Disrupting Your Own Marketing Plan: How Home Depot Got It Right

Disrupting Your Own Marketing Plan: How Home Depot Got It Right

by Berna Hakimi

I recently admitted to a room full of CMOs that I have a specific email account that I give stores when making a purchase, but it’s not my primary email. Emails from those stores pile up quickly, dozens of emails a day, many times from the same company and those emails never get opened. I let them pile up until that email inbox reaches 1000, then I delete. Current count is 561 and I deleted two weeks ago! I, like other consumers, feel overwhelmed by the amount of emails I receive. When I do occasionally open one up they don’t even relate to me. For example, I purchased a gift certificate from a doll clothing store 8 years ago for my niece. That is the only purchase I ever made from that store and yet I continue to get emails from them several times a week.

CMOs are now tasked with tailoring those marketing messages specific to every consumer’s individual needs. They’re studying petabytes of data and are learning more about you and me then our wives or husbands know about us.

Trish Mueller, the former CMO of Home Depot knows a thing or two about great marketing plans and led the hardware chain away from traditional marketing practices towards a more insightful digital plan.

“Myself and a lot of hard working people at Home Depot ditched a lot of print spin, ditched a lot of TV spin and reinvested in digital channels” Mueller said. “And the outcome? The stock continued to rise.”

Mueller was discussing this digital transformation at a GDS summit for CMOs. The brick and mortar hardware chain disrupted their own messaging system to meet the needs of a whole new consumer, specifically the mobile consumer.

“95% of Americans own a cell phone and 77% are smart phones,” says Mueller, “and mobile and digital influence about 50% of store sales.”

Mueller told the room if they as CMOs haven’t admitted they need to be mobile phone focused then they need to rethink their marketing plans immediately.

According to Marketing Land by 2019 mobile advertising will represent 72% of all US digital ad spending.

Mueller was definitely following the data about Home Depot’s consumers for the move to digital but she says it’s not where she started.

“The reality is it doesn’t start with data, its starts with the customer and what you want to know about the customer and then you can move to product and what you want to sell.”

Starting with the consumer helped Mueller tailor the customer experience and a walkie talkie app to do that. Those marketing messages could be sent via mobile phone, email or print ad depending on who the message was for.

Data is changing everything about what is happening in retail and the way we buy and sell is rapidly evolving. Digital influence on stores is increasing.

For those of you reading this saying, oh email marketing is the dinosaur of the digital age, consider this. According to Email Monday mobile email opens have grown by 180% in the last three years and according to Gartner predictions by 2020 there will be over 1-billion g-mail users.

As for my “store only” email account. I’m waiting for these retailers to start studying their data better and customizing their messages based on my needs. The retailers who get it right will get my primary g-mail account, others will continue to get my “store only” account and be deleted. And it’s almost time to start deleting again, that inbox is now at 631!

Berna Hakimi