ExactTarget Provides an Overseas Lesson About Consumer Love Lost

The following is an excerpt from the ExactTarget blog, in which Kyle Lacy relays analysis about why consumers in the United Kingdom have ended their online relationships with some businesses. Perhaps it can help you objectively think about how you engage your customers — or potential customers — online.

I can remember that fateful day in the Spring of 1998. Mrs. Cash’s sixth grade class had been released for the day and kids were scurrying across the schoolyard. Everyone except for me. I was shocked and petrified reading the heart shaped note from Sally, my sixth grade girlfriend.

Dear Kyle, We are breaking up. -Sally

It couldn’t be! Sally and I were going to be married. I had given her all the signals. I had showered her with compliments (messaging) and constant hugs (email). How could this have happened?

Like my sixth grade self, brands are experiencing break-ups from consumers who they “thought” they understood. Each time the consumer signs up to receive an email, Likes the brand on Facebook, or follows on Twitter, it signals the start of a beautiful relationship. The consumer is interested and “might” want a relationship.

The consumer has certain expectations and those expectations should be met with enthusiasm. They should be understood. Sally had been interested in me. I noticed and then smothered her.

As many of you know, ExactTarget is a global company with offices all over the world. We pride ourselves in our ability to understand the thought-process of the consumer. We wanted to get a better understanding of what consumers in the UK think of instances where they engaged with a company but later terminated the relationship.

What caused the consumers to lose interest? Here are a portion of the findings:

  • 46% have unsubscribed from email because they felt bombarded with messaging
  • 36% have unliked a brand on Facebook because they felt bombarded
  • 26% have unfollowed a brand on Twitter because they became disinterested in the content
  • 23% unfollow because they feel bombarded
  • 34% of active users in the UK follow a brand on Twitter

Many relationships end at some point. For the most part, consumers’ reasons for leaving a relationship is based around a brands inability to deliver on expectations. The brand did not honor permissions and bombarded the consumer with messaging.

One this is certain: the consumer-brand relationship will continue to grow and develop in the years to come. As a marketer, it’s your job to make that relationship work with clear expectations and personalized content.