As a father of three School-aged children who participate in extracurricular programs, I can appreciate the value of repetition. Whether it's the opening stretch routine at tae kwon do or performing scales during each piano lesson, those recurring activities develop muscle memory that allows the body and brain to perform on autopilot eventually. The same holds true in education, where concepts like spaced repetition--a technique that increases intervals of time between reviews of previously learned material--to help a student master the information, are becoming ubiquitous.
For decades, repetition has been a widely employed tactic within marketing and advertising, as evidenced by that TV commercial shown 10 times during a football game, or the flyer I get in the mail every month about switching to Verizon Fios for my Internet, cable and phone. Marketing guru Dan Kennedy has long been a proponent of sequential marketing and recurring contact, based on the fact that people tend to have short attention spans and are forgetful. "Most business people 'miss the boat' by failing to maintain frequent contact with their customers," he blogged recently. "There is a need to stay on the top of your customer's consciousness--after all, out of sight; out of mind."
Nevertheless, when I talk with marketers in the financial services space, there's a lot of apprehension about sending recurring messages or conducting a lengthy marketing campaign. In the last six months, I've heard a dozen executives say, "We want to be careful not to harass people." Harassing people is indeed a poor marketing strategy. But some of this sentiment is an overreaction to digital marketing overload, which first became a real concern back in 2003 with the passage of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, or CAN-SPAM. While the law curbed some egregious practices, it couldn't restrain the volume of email marketing, which continues to grow exponentially. The Radicati Group, a research firm, forecasts that by 2016 the world's email machine will be cranking out 192 billion per day. Add in social media marketing, mobile ads and new, intrusive digital ad spots, and it's not surprising to see financial services companies investing more heavily in email-filtering.
Despite those challenges, repetitive marketing is still a viable approach, provided the content and the messaging are relevant. Here are a few examples that have worked for SourceMedia and our clients:
* Expert video series: Our Ask The Experts video program has resonated with our audiences for two primary reasons: It is presented as a series, vs. a 'one and done' video; and the spots provide brief, targeted answers to questions our online readers are wrestling with vs. droning on about company values.
* E-newsletter series: E-newsletters are one of the best tools SourceMedia employs to engage our audience. We recently launched a custom e-newsletter program on behalf of a client that polls the readership to determine which topic we'll cover in the next e-newsletter.
* Repetitive digital advertising coupled with thought leadership: Another trend is the growing dissatisfaction with online banner ads, based partly on the notion that they're so pervasive, the viewer doesn't really see them anymore. But more advertisers are realizing that getting a click-through isn't nearly as important as using the ad spot to create another level of commitment. That's why more of our clients are using digital ads to drive downloads of white papers and web seminar attendance. "Learn more" is more compelling than "Visit our site."
Lastly, make sure you know your audience when you set up any campaign. That Fios mailer I mentioned earlier in this column has been coming to my mailbox for three years now, every month, but unfortunately my zip code doesn't qualify. It's not relevant. It's just annoying.