Suppression Explained: Snail-Paced Data Onboarding Dooms Marketing

Sometimes, the ads your brand doesn’t send are just as important as the ads it does.

Think about how consumers shop. A young woman may spend days, even weeks, hunting for the perfect bicycle. She scours the web at night, prowls local stores during her lunch hour and pores over mobile shopping apps on her commute home. Finally, she finds THE bike — and it’s for sale on your website. She buys it, you ship it, and within a matter of days, she’s pedaling all over town.

As a matter of fact, she loves the bike so much that she’s riding it at this very moment. So why are you still sending her ads promoting this very same two-wheeler?

You’re not only squandering vital advertising budget, after all. You’re also testing her patience — and disclosing that you don’t know her nearly as well as she expects you to, jeopardizing the odds she’ll come back to your site or store when she’s hunting for a new bike helmet or lock.

This scenario (or a version of it) plays out all the time. Eighty-eight percent of consumers receive ads for products they’ve already purchased, according to a recent survey of U.S. digital shoppers. Blame the glacial pace of legacy data onboarders: Some vendors require between five and seven days to upload offline customer data to the online environment to match with digital identifiers… which explains why so many brands are still inundating customers five to seven days later (or even longer) with pointless ads for products they already purchased.

The contextually relevant experiences that customers demand hinge on understanding and meeting their needs at that precise moment. And whether it’s passing along a promotional offer or product recommendation based on that consumer’s established interests and preferences, or shutting up and suppressing messages that don’t matter to her at all, real-time marketing, enabled by onboarding and activating customer data in the moment, is the only way to know for certain what she wants — and how to act accordingly.

With real-time data onboarding — the foundation of persistent identity resolution across devices and channels — a retailer knows instantly when a shopper buys a new bicycle (or a new couch, or a new lawnmower, or a new anything), meaning there’s no risk of disrupting and compromising the customer experience with redundant retargeting or outdated, irrelevant messaging. A brand can respond to the latest customer activity and behavioral cues by immediately suppressing ads that miss the mark in favor of activating ads that resonate (for example, an email displaying highly rated cycling accessories).

As identity-driven strategies grow more deeply entrenched in modern marketing philosophies, the speed at which brands are able to onboard data for media activation and suppression, personalization and myriad other use cases increasingly will separate contenders from pretenders. Brands waste an average of 26 percent of their marketing budgets on ineffective channels and strategies; marketers with the insights and tools to suppress customers who don’t fit their campaign criteria (like shoppers who already converted, or who opted out of a brand’s advertising for other reasons) effectively immunize themselves from this wastefulness, empowering them to redirect spend to more impactful, rewarding purposes. Maybe that bicycle won’t ever crack the 25 mph benchmark, but real-time onboarding — and the immediate, actionable insights it generates — will more than satisfy your brand’s need for speed.

Originally published April 22, 2019

Jen Bassik

Jen is Signal’s Director of Product Strategy, leveraging a background in product and integrated marketing to define, build and launch the company’s newest data onboarding products. Before joining Signal, Jen led product marketing teams at Centro; she previously helmed strategy and planning efforts at Burson Cohn & Wolfe, running GTM campaigns in the digital, content and experiential marketing spaces.

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