Faced with a rapidly transitioning media landscape and customers who are more selective in what they read and watch, brands are competing for attention more than ever. Armed with an arsenal of useful data, marketers are vying to convert their knowledge of customer behavior, search patterns and individual preferences into personalized messages. They are informed by polling institutes and market researchers that almost half of all consumers will only spend time with branded content if it is relevant for them. And 88 percent of customers, according to the Marketing Insider Group, claim that personally relevant content will positively influence how they feel about a brand.
A well-known marketing technology platform has even developed a “Personalization Index” for the retail industry. But no matter if you are retail, manufacturing or a service provider, in the age of customer-centric digital marketing it has become indispensable to create a connected experience for meticulously selected target groups or individual customers, if you want to stand out from the competition and make all the difference. Thanks to the digital transformation revolutionizing the business world the technology and the tools necessary to launch personalized campaigns are more accessible and effective than ever.
Why it is important to deliver personalized messages
According to MarketingProfs, companies that personalize web experiences for their customers can expect to increase sales by 19 percent on average, mostly because personalized content makes the shopping experience more relevant and the connection more meaningful. As a consequence it increases brand loyalty. Personalized campaigns and conversations create positive associations. According to a study published by Temple University in Philadelphia, 98 percent of customers experience positive feelings when they get suggestions for products based on previous purchases.
But there are important benefits beyond pure sales numbers. If personalization is deployed correctly, it will help to increase lifetime value and retention within your customer base. Invesp, a conversion rate optimization expert, reports that slightly more than half of online shoppers are more likely to return to a website if it offers personalized recommendations. Besides that, with personalized messages you will meet a growing and important demand. With a flood of additional information out there in the digital universe, buyers want to know who they are dealing with. They want to know who´s behind the product. They want to know the brand´s purpose. And as we can all observe on several social media platforms, users have become more willing to share personal data that can be used to design personalized messages. Last but not least, a well-designed approach helps brands to deliver consistency for their customers. They want to know what to expect, like in a trusted long-term personal relationship.
Segmentation is key
You need to know who you are targeting. Analyzing the available data is an essential first step in order to identify the most lucrative segments. This segmentation, though, is only the first step before you begin profiling in order to get a basic grasp of your customer base. And this still is not enough to make a personalized appeal. In a second step you need to establish personas which facilitate a personal understanding of your respective segment. Only then you will have the bedrock for your campaign and can start with a personalized key messaging. In this context, interviewing customers is an important measure since it will help you to add quality to the mere statistical segmentation.
In social media terms try to find out which platforms your audience prefers and where they come from. More experienced and data-driven marketers are also looking at social sentiments, IP addresses, contextual behavior, or the largest sources of traffic visitors to their website come from in order to optimize the personalization campaign. Once you have collected the information you are looking for, you need a rigorous segmentation that allows you to get close to the group of customers or potential buyers you want to approach. Otherwise you don´t get your campaign off the ground. Very rarely your campaign will be a true one-to-one effort. Most of the time, it will serve a defined extract of your audience. If there is no clear assessment of personal preferences, recent actions, or other predefined key attributes, you won´t be able to win the desired attention. It is important to customize your landing pages in order to support the campaign.
A premium lifestyle brand recently discovered that Facebook users who described themselves as “engineers” engaged 300 percent more often with their ads than other Facebook users. The brand directed its focus towards this group and conversion rates on social campaigns subsequently increased sharply. A zoo in Washington analyzed the available data in order to identify the postcodes of the zoo´s most frequent guests. Their following campaigns targeted people in these catchment areas and increased membership distinctly.
Profiling your audience and segmenting your customer base is the first important step. It enables you to offer the most relevant products to the right customers. The more data you collect and the more efficiently you use it, the bigger the push behind the personalization campaign. But it is not only about data. Your employees are critically important in this respect. They are ambassadors of the brand and can incarnate its values. Let them address your customers as well, match them with their interests to specific interests and needs of selected target groups by producing video testimonials or writing personal newsletters.
How to get personal
A study published by Adobe titled “Digital Roadblock: Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves” reveals that embracing personalization is one of the best ways for brands to reinvent themselves. According to social media marketing specialist MarketingLand, personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates. When easyJet celebrated its 20th anniversary it looked into each customer´s travel history with the airline and created individual stories, using 28 key data points. Among other experiences the stories highlighted first flights and some of the chosen destinations (“Remember your first ever trip? It was 8th July when you left Luton behind and stepped off the plane in Faro”). easyJet sent out almost twelve and a half million unique emails with statements like this and observed that open rates for the mails more than doubled compared to earlier campaigns.
Customers not only value personalization, they expect it. Remember Dale Carnegie? He taught us that to every human being the sweetest sound in any language is its name. Use the customer name as often as you can. But that´s only where personalization starts. Once you replaced the “Hello” by a specific name you should start personalizing websites, apps, experiences and choices. After a loyal customer sent a Facebook message to Samsung requesting the name of the next to be released phone, and included a picture of a fire breathing dragon, Samsung politely said no, sending the customer a drawing with a kangaroo riding on a unicycle. The customer shared the response on social media platforms, where it went viral. Samsung thanked him and sent him the brand new phone he had requested. It was personalized with the dragon the customer had sent initially. This is a great example of how brands can communicate on a personalized level and even create a media sensation in the process.
Successful retailers and manufacturers have taught us already that there is much more to personalize than emails and websites. You can give recommendations based on what else people bought who purchased the same product. You can remind customers of products they put into their shopping cart but didn´t buy them before they left the website. This can be done by triggering an email as a reminder showing the items. You can remind somebody of a product he watched for some time but didn´t purchase. Amazon has done a great job tailoring its complete homepage to each user and his or her individual browsing and purchasing history. With the right strategy and roadmap you can personalize the whole customer journey. But remember: The campaign to personalize and improve the customer experience is a cross-functional effort. This means that the silo mentality prevailing in most enterprises needs to be eliminated.