Today’s “3X Effect” and What It Means for Your Marketing

In the old-school, Madison Avenue days of advertising, forceful repetition as a tactic was not only in vogue, it was sacrosanct. To hit the largest segment at the same the time, the formula was simple: serve up your :30 TV spot 3 times to your audience and the message likely stuck. Now the (insert type) product is top of mind for their next visit to the (insert type) store. Sometimes referred to as the “3X effect,” the reason it can work is because it activates our lizard brains and tricks us into thinking that repetition equals importance. And while this tactic hasn’t entirely disappeared, (just tune into any primetime network television program) it has evolved substantially. Today’s “3X effect” is an always-on CRM strategy that requires using the power of multiple channels to meet your customer where they are (or where they prefer). Below are four ways to do just that:

1. Embrace your inner marketing mixologist.

Marketing isn’t about employing a catch-all tactic, strategy, channel, cadence, and/or offer anymore because not all customers are the same (even if they are in the same segment — gasp!). And, because there are more detours than ever on the path to purchase, it’s important to employ a test-and-learn strategy to identify the most impactful approach based on customer preference and behavior. For example, we worked with one of our clients recently to supplement their transactional data with lifestyle segmentation and found the majority of their customers over-indexed in direct mail as a preferred channel. They changed their approach, applied a multi-channel strategy by adding direct mail with a mix of social and email communications, and saw a 20% lift in incremental sales. But it doesn’t stop there — optimization requires revisiting and retesting, from segments and channels to campaigns and customers.

2. Right place (channel), right time.

We all know that relevancy equals engagement, but relevance can vary from customer to customer, segment to segment, channel to channel. And engagement increases when you communicate to customers based on their preferences. It all starts with asking the question, “Why?”  For instance, mobile is often a preferred channel for delivering urgent, contextual, and useful messages (Oh, there’s a sale from 11am to 1pm today only? Text me!) Email is a hardworking channel for sure, however the urgency can get lost. For example, that same message might not be seen until that night’s binge session on Netflix. Opportunity gone. Not to mention that 90% of text messages are opened within 3 minutes of delivery. How’s that for an open rate?

3. Rethink print.

Eye rolls, aside, print is powerful. Things have come full circle, and print, operating quietly under the radar for years, now has a growing opportunity to stand out amongst the digital crowd as its use is increasingly under reconsideration. Direct mail, in particular, is seeing resurgence in higher customer response. A recent study by USPS’ International Priority Airmail suggests that 38% of people buy or order something after reading their mail, and 87% of people keep certain pieces of mail for longer than a month. Imagine someone going back to the same email every day for a month.  Surely, the permanence of print and its static nature lends itself an unmistakable prominence, like a spread in The Wall Street Journal, or Mark Zuckerberg’s recent full-page apology post-data security debacle. Is print more authentic? More genuine? Has more staying power? Regardless, if done right, it elicits a response. 

4. Sometimes less is a whole lot more.

Successful customer engagement isn’t simply about activating the lizard brain, it’s about connecting with the human one, while being able to excel in multiple channels. Let’s face it, aggressive retargeting doesn’t necessarily give customers a reason to brim with excitement from a passing brand, nor does it mean you’re winning at multichannel. Inundating consumers with unwanted, high-frequency, irrelevant messaging is most certainly a good reason for them to consider why they came to a particular brand in the first place — and potentially look elsewhere. In fact, according to Campaign Monitor, nearly 46% customers unsubscribe because a brand emails too often. And nearly 32% because of irrelevant content. In other words, customers expect value in exchange for their attention. And just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should.