We talk about proactive and reactive behavior in many areas of life – driving, parenting, relationships (guys, buy the flowers before she asks). And as marketers, we see – and dish out – a lot of both. And to some degree, that will always be the case. But there are some areas for improvement in how we handle the balance.
When we talk about messaging on time and on target, we have a little bit of both going on. Sure, you’re using data to inform your targeting. But the point in understanding those targets is to proactively engage them based on their preferences. That’s where the magic happens.
Walmart is an interesting case, using marketing data to inform inventory. They’re looking at what people are asking for and stocking based on that feedback. They’re allowing marketing data to inform their business planning, and that’s a really smart way of using their marketing assets.
Other brands aren’t performing as well. The magic falls apart in times where I leave a store unsatisfied – or abandon my cart – and then the offer arrives. It’s like leaving a bad date and then getting a “where are we going for dinner on Friday?” text. It’s awkward to assume that I’ll be back, and worse to ignore why I left.
Email is another example of brands failing to listen and proactively engage. And in some cases, they just give up. Instead of troubleshooting what makes your email offer feel spammy, are you just abandoning the platform altogether when you see your low open rates? Or worse—persisting despite them?
Social is where proactive and reactive marketing converge. On the one hand, you’re proactively driving your brand’s image through the seeds you plant there. Alternately, social media has become a space for voicing and handling grievances, so no matter how much AI and how many algorithms are driving your Facebook presence, you’re still at the mercy of public opinion.
It really all comes back to planning. Make time for it. And it’s not enough to just look at the data. You have to let it inform your strategy, your offers, and cadence. And then listen and make adjustments.