By Ryan Kosanic
Somewhere along the way, as campaign management solutions have grown increasingly sophisticated in their ability to communicate with customers across the expanding channel universe, the all-important offer hasn’t received the attention it deserves. This is wrong, because the campaign is just a wrapper for the offer, and and it’s pretty hard to be genuinely customer-centric without understanding the role the offer plays in marketing.
As customer preferences have evolved, so too have offers. As marketers try to have a relevant and compelling conversation with their customers, now is an important time to take another look at the role of the offer.
What is an Offer?
There are many preconceived notions of what an offer can or cannot be. At the same time, there’s no absolute, single definition of an offer. Still, we can start to say what it is and what it is not:
Offers are: specific marketing messages, intended to create purposeful engagement, that are delivered to a particular group of customers or prospects, using one or more channels.
Offers are not: solely a promotion or discount given to specific customers or prospects. They can refer to a service or informational message as well.
Regardless of the industry or what they call these messages, all marketers use offers. The level of complexity depends on the goals and resources of each organization’s marketing group.
Offer Management: Getting its Due
Offer management has become an increasingly important function within the marketing organization, especially as customer channels have proliferated. For this purpose, it’s defined as a process and system by which the marketing organization manages data related to offers and messages across channels. If you’re only using your campaign management tools for segmentation and list generation, you’re missing a great opportunity for higher ROI.
Offer management, in many ways, is more important than managing the campaign itself, since the offer drives the campaign and the customer response. With offer management, marketers can start simple and increase offer complexity over time, gaining progressively sharper insights into customer behavior. The more information you collect that describes the offer, the clearer the view and understanding—and the bigger the opportunity to connect dead-on with customers according to their interests and preferences.
The Offer Manager
The increased need for better offer management is pushing a new role to the surface—the Offer Manager. More organizations are realizing that this is a critical position to protect and push ROI on their offers. For this role to work, candidates need to deeply understand the marketing cycle from intake through measurement. They also need to understand decision tree methods and hierarchical application of rule sets, plus the central concepts of campaign test design. Finally, they need to wrap it all together with the ability to translate marketing strategy into campaign design seamlessly.
Attention to the offer is on the rise as marketers look under the campaign management hood to see how technology can help power this critical element of their customer communications. Without an offer that works—whether it is 10% off a shirt or inviting feedback on airline service to encourage loyalty—no matter what point of contact, there won’t be a customer responding on the other end.
Ryan Kosanic is CEO at Covalent Marketing.