You’ve seen “The Matrix,” right? (If you haven’t, watch the trailer.) At its core, it’s a film about the difference between perception and reality. The plot turns when the main character, Neo (played by Keanu Reeves), is offered a choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The red pill will let him see the world as it is, in all its dystopian horror. The blue pill will allow him to live in blissful (though empty) ignorance.

Neo opts for the red pill. And all hell breaks loose.

At PebblePost, we would like to offer a red pill for all the CMOs in the digital world.

“It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from truth.”

From its outset, digital marketing has been oversold. It sounds so simple (and tempting) in theory. You run a display ad or email campaign. Prospects click through by the thousands to your site where they are so blown away by your wonderful wares that they immediately buy something. It’s as easy as 1-2-3, a path to purchase as short and straight as Main Street in a Norman Rockwell small town.

That’s the blue pill version of digital marketing.

Once you take the red pill, you’ll see that the path to purchase is actually as challenging to navigate as LA’s Four-Level Freeway Interchange. To start with, it’s a mistake to think that there are separate paths to purchase for digital and for physical retail and that never the twain shall meet.

In truth, there’s plenty of overlap and double back along with U-turns and dead ends. In the real world, consumers are walking around with a smartphone in their hands and they have a laptop on their desk and a tablet in their lap because the tablet is the new laptop and the laptop is the new PC. (Maybe they should remake these ads to reflect this.) Meanwhile, they’re also going to the store to buy things or they’re showrooming and then they’re going back online to do more research. And in the end, they’ll probably go back to the store to make their final buy rather than compete the purchase online.

Why do I say that with such confidence? Because, despite the media’s Amazon obsession, e-commerce still accounts for only about 13% of total retail sales in the U.S.

Let me repeat that using all caps and a larger font size because it really is worth shouting this from the virtual rooftop (even though that rooftop isn’t very high): E-COMMERCE ACCOUNTS FOR ONLY ABOUT 13% OF TOTAL RETAIL SALES IN THE U.S.

Once you take the red pill, you see the significance of that so clearly.

“You know, I know this steak doesn't exist.”

We’ve already said plenty about the foibles of digital in the past so I won’t rehash them all here. But what’s fascinating has been the response to the overwhelming body of evidence that many digital ad campaigns simply don’t work. Rather than take a step back and try to understand why consumers responded so poorly to digital marketing (when they respond at all), a lot of digital marketers devote their energy instead to trying to figure out the mechanics of ad tech. They’re working hard to dive into Google Analytics and device IDs and page views and cookies and all this stuff that has nothing to do with how people behave in the real world.

Instead of Google Analytics, what we do at PebblePost is more like Google Earth. We’ve meticulously mapped out the path to purchase, with all its convoluted meanderings, so we can better serve our brands with their Programmatic Direct Mail® campaigns. We want to work with brands and help them enrich their view into how consumers are interacting with their touch points — from online to Programmatic Direct Mail® at home to consumers converting either online or offline.

“I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end.
I came here to tell you how it's going to begin.”

Because the process is so involved, we’ve broken it down into a series of steps and explained the significance of each in a separate post. And not every step has the same significance for each brand. To achieve the best results, we work with brands to customize the best road to customer success with Programmatic Direct Mail®.

The first fork in that road is Programmatic Direct Mail® for customer acquisition or retention. Stay tuned for our next installment.

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PebblePost's Guide to Programmatic Direct Mail

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