Personalisation in a Digital Marketplace
If you owned a local shop, it would be natural to tailor the experience to your customer. You know that Bob always likes the crispiest fish in the fryer, or that Sue would be interested in a deal on pastries. You chatter away with customer X, but you know to leave customer Z to browse.
The ability to provide such great customer service is based on understanding your customer and responding to their specific, individual needs.
When you think about traditional shop fronts or market stalls, it’s easy to realise that personalisation has always been a part of business. The desire to be treated like an individual doesn’t stop when a person shops online. Though online shopping involves physical distance from the business owner, consumers still interact with brands (digital or otherwise) on a personal level, as if online stores were humble local shop fronts.
They expect the same personal touch back in return.
Where the digital marketplace is concerned, customers can communicate with companies over social media and a variety of other channels. They can voice concerns or sing praises to a wide audience with online reviews. They can pull out their smartphone and search for whatever they want, and they expect to get it on time and in the right context.
All of this has created a shift in consumer behaviour. The same desire for personalisation and customer service is still there, but now expectations are higher than ever when it comes to how a company should respond and communicate with their customers.
Personalisation allows you to give your customer more of what they want, and less of what they don’t want. You can address them by name, yes, but you can also customise the tone of emails, vary the offers that you send, and adapt the frequency and subject matter of the content that they receive from you.
This is easy enough when you only have 10 customers and you can manually recall their preferences and personalities. But how do you keep up with the growing demand for a personalised buying experience as you scale your business?
Personalisation in a Digital Marketplace
The answer is at-scale personalisation. You need to be able to provide a fully tailored experience to a large customer base.
There are simple technologies out there that can insert the correct name of recipients when you send out masses of emails or recommend products based on past purchases, but the truth is the growing expectations of the consumer demand a more in-depth kind of personalisation.
You need to be able to send out personalised multiple-interaction messages to thousands of customers at once, based not only on their needs and preferences, but also on their actions and triggers in the buying process.
Thankfully, technology has unlocked the true power of personalisation, making it possible at scale. Using data analytics combined with an agile business structure and excellent content distribution, your business can offer a hyper-personalised experience for every customer from start to finish by working with data they already have.
The key is to get to know your audience, and apply this knowledge to send out only the most relevant recommendations, super-personalised marketing and ads, and custom emails and messages. Tailor the entire buying experience to their needs.
Unlocking the Power Within
To unlock the power of personalisation, you need to follow a few major steps based on delivering the most tailored buying experience possible to your customer:
Identify and Collect Relevant Data
The first step is to collect customer data. Eventually, the goal is to have a full customer data platform. Don’t let that put you off getting started. Even basic information is useful, and it’s more important to work with what you have than to go out and collect masses of pointless, unworkable data.
Keep it relevant. Customer data sets such as demographic, transaction and product history, web data and interactions, can all help you to form a well-rounded picture of your customer and their needs.
Using the data you have available, the next step is to identify sub-segments based on who your customers are and their key markers of value. For at-scale personalisation, this will involve the use of a computer program that makes decisions based on signals in the customer’s journey through the buying process.
For example, when they show enough interest in product X, they are sent email Y.
Using the outcomes of your decisioning, which are derived from your customer data, you can distribute content across relevant channels to reach and communicate with your audience.
Remember, timing is everything when it comes to personalised marketing, so use trigger-based actions to maximize returns.
For example, when a person moves house, they might receive an offer for an internet provider. Content is sent based on what you anticipate the customer to need, or what is likely to cause a positive response.
Agile Response Strategy
This data and tech-driven approach should be combined with an agile response strategy within your business. You will be testing approaches and learning from customer responses. This requires cross-functional teams rather than departments in silos.
Be willing to learn and grow, and you will be able to adapt and change as quickly as your audience.
Everyone’s a Winner
When it comes to sales, research by Accenture revealed that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that addresses them by name, knows their preferences, and recommends products based on previous purchases, and this is only a very simple level of personalisation. With a fully personalised buying experience, you will see huge boosts to your customer satisfaction and retention rates.
Personalisation makes your customer feel valued and, as a result, they will feel a stronger sense of loyalty toward your company. You become the friendly baker down the road who bakes the best bread and always knows how to please everyone.
When done well, personalisation has a positive impact throughout the entire customer lifecycle, from acquisition and engagement, to basket size and purchase frequency. The long term effect is greatly increased customer retention, which is absolutely crucial for your bottom line. Put simply, personalisation increases profits, while leaving your customer feeling happy.
Adapting to the demands of digital consumers requires constant effort, but the results are well worth it.
These days, you need to use more than just the customer’s name in emails. You need to have a full understanding of who they are, what they want, and what and when they will respond to certain marketing messages.
Using customer data and decisioning, you can drive content that is highly relevant and well-timed, moving customers gently and willingly down the sales funnel.