March 22, 2016

Marketing Research: Tactics marketers use to reach customers who are on the go

SUMMARY: While our team is preparing for the 2017 MarketingSherpa Summit in Las Vegas, we continue to explore the results of the MarketingSherpa Marketing Practices Survey. Read on to discover how marketers communicate with customers when customers are away from computers, and what lessons marketers have learned along the way.
by Dr. Liva LaMontagne , Editorial Research Manager

As you may already know, we have conducted two surveys — a marketer survey and a consumer survey — looking to compare what consumers say they want and what marketers actually do, to help us build content for MarketingSherpa Summit.


Through September 15-28, 2015, MarketingSherpa conducted an online survey with 455 marketers from its subscriber list.

We asked marketers, "Which of the following methods do you use to reach customers when they are not at a computer? Please select all that apply."

The top five ways marketers chose were:
  • Email on their customers’ smartphones (65%)

  • Print ads (38%)

  • In-person conversations (35%)

  • Mobile apps from their brands (22%)

  • Text messages (18%)

View Chart Online

Click here to see a printable version of this chart

We also asked marketers, "What have you learned about reaching customers when they are not at a computer?" Some of them allowed us to quote them with their names and titles, but others will be unattributed.

The following four main themes emerged from their answers:

Mobile is important, but also a challenge

“Mobile optimization is essential. If it is not easy for customers to read/watch our content from their phone, we lose a lot of engagement/leads.”

"We are just delving into the world of mobile email. This has not been a focus in the past. In fact, we found it a little bit difficult to even measure how many people were receiving/opening their email on a phone."

"Customers are available on multiple screens and reaching them at the right time with right message customized for the screens is very important."

"It is important to accurately assess the best form of interacting with mobile clients. Sometimes it's an email on their phone, sometimes a quick text, and very often they prefer a phone conversation to actually save time going back and forth in digital paths."

Digital and offline methods enhance each other’s effectiveness

"We did very little until this year with print only because we thought digital was the only way to go. However, digital works best for us as a brand awareness tool and the print really drives it home with a call-to-action they can get on board with."

"It is really all about the layering effect. When we can tap a customer with radio, print and email on their mobile device — that is the golden ticket."

"We still use direct mail and a full product catalog to reach customers. You have to be ready to go where they prefer to be. For us, sometimes that means customers with little to no Internet access, so keeping print campaigns going is important to our success."

"Direct mail is still important and the inbox online is [so] crowded." (Karen Post, President, Brain Tattoo Branding)

"Offline conversations to online research pushes more qualified Web visitors." (Toby Gonzales, Partner/Marketing and Business Development, Ten O Six Beach Road Bistro)

Track the customer journey between online and offline channels

"It's not as easy to track offline reach as it is for online campaigns, but by using promo codes, dedicated URLs and phone numbers, etc. it can be done."

"You must be on a person's path and deliver the right message at the right time. Digital messages are becoming more effective as not only is it the preferred method of reaching a client but it's also the easiest to measure end-to-end conversion."

Face–to–face interactions still important

"I still find face-to-face conversations very powerful — prospective clients also appreciate the effort taken to meet with them, especially now that you can flick and email or text message instead." (Bob Singh, Business Owner/Director, Bloomtools)

"In-person conversions work well for us. They are an opportunity to have good dialogue about the product and allow us to further understand the trend of our customers’ needs by paying attention to the questions they ask or solutions they are looking for. In return the customer is learning about our solutions and getting answers to their specific questions."

"Although we live in a digital age, not every customer is digital. We have a large outside sales force who are instrumental in keeping our customers engaged." (Jill Henry, Email Marketing Manager, DENTSPLY)

To sum up, marketers are trying to reach their customers who are away from computers by email on their smartphones, investing in print ads and fostering in-person conversations. To a lesser degree marketers (22%) are also starting to invest in mobile apps and sending text messages (18%).

How does this compare to what customers would like marketers to do? Find out how customers want to receive messages when they are away from computers next week, when we look at the results of our Consumer Purchase Preference Survey.

Related Resources

Subscribe to MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week — Get data and discoveries delivered to your inbox

Marketing Research Chart: How Millennials and Baby Boomers want you to introduce them to new products

Email Marketing: Furniture retail chain uses omni-channel experience to reach 55% more online shoppers

How Microsoft Store Turned Its Receipts Into a Personalized Customer Touchpoint [From the MarketingSherpa blog]

MECLABS Email Messaging Online Course

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