Personalization: The Key to Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience

Personalization: The Key to Creating an Exceptional
Customer Experience

Personalization has come a long way from only addressing the customer by name in a direct marketing email that arrives in your inbox – of all the digital strategies being talked about in the race to better customer experience, and thereby setting your brand apart from the competitors, personalization has now grown to be the most paramount.

It has been shown time and again that personalization drives engagement and builds relationships with the customer, making it one of the most important tools in a marketer’s toolbox. A whopping 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize them by name, remember their preferences, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations1. A customer that is seen and heard and feels special is one that will return.

As opposed to the customization of products or services to suit a particular individual, personalization is the tailoring of an experience based on the customer’s previous buying behavior and preferences. The holy grail is to offer the customer an intelligent and contextual, and therefore superior customer experience, which in effect creates more value for the business.

In the past, marketing communications was mostly one-way. The new approach using data to ground insights begins a conversation with the customer.

The underpinning of personalization is data. Most of this data already exists within an organization in the form of the technology that enables every sale – sales and support information can be folded into customer data platforms (CDPs) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, unstructured data in the form of positive or negative feedback, reviews and social commentary consolidated into reputation management systems – all that data just needs to be harnessed, analyzed and put to work not just as the end of the shopping funnel but throughout the customer journey.

Here are a few paths to personalization of the customer experience:

  • Personalized home page, navigation, and copy: New visitors need to be targeted with tailored messages, pages, and navigation compared to returning visitors or regular customers because they aren’t very familiar with the brand or the website. Personalized pop-ups and greetings are one way to do this. Encouraging social sign-ins are another. By understanding target customers’ pain points, interests, and problems, you can also target relevant copy for different segments, thereby increasing conversion. Knowing device types also means mobile users can be offered a different experience compared to those using a tablet or laptop.
  • Location targeting/geofencing: Visitors from different countries are segmented and these segments to allow for personalized pages and experiences. A US apparel brand could have different sizes, not to mention currencies, compared to the UK site. Geolocation targeting also enables daily or seasonal weather-related personalization. One new development is geofencing which puts a ‘virtual fence’ around a physical location. Geofencing triggers a command to the mobile phone when an individual enters or leaves a geofence. Whole Foods launched geofences around their competitors’ locations. When a customer using the Whole Foods app came into or left the geofence, they would receive ads with store-specific offers2. The campaign is said to have had a post-click conversion rate which is more than 3x the industry average. 
  • Predictive personalization: Amazon, followed by Youtube and Netflix, made the ‘Recommended for you’ feature famous. These days, many brands suggest options while the customer is buying or even at checkout to upsell their products and increase average order value. Uniqlo measures neurotransmitters in their UMood kiosks to gauge customers’ reactions as they are shown different clothing items in kiosks. The AI algorithm then uses that data to recommend products3.
  • Retargeting: Google Ads offers brands the ability to remarket their product to visitors who visit their website in other locations. Since they have already shown interest in the brand, retargeting offers another avenue to complete the sale. Conversely, personalization also means that the transition from clicking from an ad to get to your website is seamless and the text matches to suit.
  • Category specific offers: Just as with initial contact, segmentation offers a chance to target specific offers to specific customers. One effective example is how Sephora used to announce all their products to all their customers, but now they send only relevant information with their behavioral-based email program4.
  • Gamification: Using gamification in your brand marketing strategy helps brands know their customers better through features such as quizzes or creating user profiles and avatars. Awarding points is another method can keep consumers loyal. Makeups and skincare brands such Sephora’s skincare quiz or Roadrunner Sports’ “Which Nike shoe fits your personality” are great examples of gamifying your commerce experience to drive return traffic5.
  • Video tutorials and inspiration: Offering how-to videos and tutorials post-sale turns customers into repeat customers. Technology has made it easy to offer personalization even in video and editing techniques mean that text in a video can be customized for easy consumption. Inspiration areas are used by many brands’ websites to guide customers through their product line.
  • Lead generators: Displaying offers free trials or discounts tactically are a useful feature to generate customer leads and keep them on your page. An exit discount pop-up box is one way to do this.
  • Omnichannel delivery: Features such as ‘Continue watching’ and ‘Watch from the beginning’ made popular by Netflix are also being used by retail brands that have a presence on different channels. Headless CMSes can enable shoppers to switch between devices for a seamless experience while also remembering their preferences. Neiman Marcus, for example, remembers your size when you return6.
  • Chat and customer support: AI and machine learning is being used especially with chatbots which can gather data and segment customers, especially if you don’t have the resources to offer round-the-clock support. Information and predictive analysis can be pulled up for customer-facing employees for an enhanced customer service experience. 

More brands are offering hyper-personalized experiences at every customer touchpoint. With enough data, customers can be shoehorned into each segment of one. However, personalization can make the marketing mix more complex and such complexity is both time and resource intensive. Therefore, A/B testing is a key factor to check efficacy before embarking on individual personalization strategies.  

Furthermore, using customer data for the purposes of curation and interaction is treading a fine line – brands would reap the benefits if they were to make their processes transparent, respect data privacy, and safeguard customers’ data while doing so. In the end, personalization is as much about customer behavior and their needs as it is about their data.

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Footnotes

1. Accenture 2018 Personalization Pulse Check. https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/PDF-83/Accenture-Pulse-Check-Infographic.pdf 

2. Thinknear Location Score Index, Q4 2017. http://info.thinknear.com/rs/835-JWB-681/images/Thinknear_Location_Score_Index_Q4_2017.pdf?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=&utm_term=&utm_content=

3. AI In Retail: How Tech Is Changing The Customer Experience, Forbes.com, March 26, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/03/26/ai-in-retail-how-tech-is-changing-the-customer-experience/?sh=47f31dc1958a

4. Accelerating Agility: eCommerce Marketing Lessons from Sephora, Bluecore.com, https://www.bluecore.com/blog/accelerating-agility-ecommerce-marketing-sephora/

5. Roadrunnersports.com, https://www.roadrunnersports.com/blog/quiz-which-nike-shoe-best-fits-your-personality-free-rn-or-free-rn-flyknit/

6.  5 Outstanding Omnichannel Retail Examples In Fashion, Intelistyle.com, https://www.intelistyle.com/omnichannel-retail-best-examples-fashion/

Insights, Trends, and Predictions for 2021

Insights, Trends, and Predictions for 2021

The next few months should see us at the cusp of a post-pandemic economy – with multiple vaccines looming over the horizon, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for another tumultuous year globally – a new US President and people adjusting to a post pandemic world. There’s a few trends born out of the disruptions over the year to note when considering the state of eCommerce moving into 2021, and I’ve decided to highlight what we believe are the five most important trends. Of course, I hasten to add, every single one of my predictions could be wrong. I have learned at a very young age that I have no orbuculum at my disposal and my scrying is a game of dice!  

Each trend connects with a greater cluster of users, from the consumer all the way to the integrity of the digital economy, so understanding each pillar of these predictions can go a long way in preparing for future disruptions and innovations ahead.

Hyper-personalizations: Considering the Consumer Alone

As buyer profiles grow more and more distinct with the aggregation of big data and the development of machine learning, hyper-personalization is a vital component of building modern customer experience. The world will move from broad segmentation to one to one marketing as the technology to further target content to the individual advances. We’ve begun to see this already to great effect in social media eCommerce as platforms like TikTok and Instagram have mastered the endless scroll via tailoring content specific to the individual, and now we see clear opportunities for early adopters in both B2B and B2C spaces to capture significant growth. Marketing to broad segments like Millennials or Baby Boomers won’t do. Everyone in these segments is unique so think about how you deliver 1:1 personalization. 

The Elastic Enterprise: Reevaluating Business Models

With demand and supply becoming global, business models will change. We will see more Direct to Consumer (DTC) and composite hybrids – B2B, B2C and B2B2C power the digital economy. Both DTC and B2B2C are now proven business models that have challenged conventional wisdoms in eCommerce and thrived in the wake of their disruption. Throughout the pandemic, DTC models have transformed household essentials into subscription based services that are tailored to one’s needs and personalized to their wants. B2B2C models on the other hand have allowed businesses to specialize in providing services to other smaller businesses who you may engage – like an air conditioning supplier (B) who works with the small business contractor (b) you (c) trust. 

The Longitudinal Book of Record: Understanding Connected Data Science

So I know your name and email. Over time I get to know your preferences.I keep building the small stub of information I have on you- like building a longitudinal book of record. Omnichannel has long been an established pillar of the digital economy, but going into the next decade, connected channels and the data science behind them will only skyrocket in significance. Companies will rely on building an infinitely extendable longitudinal book of record by collecting and compiling data from various channels – connected channels will be the next big thing. Efficient and effective CRMs, OMS’, and ERP solutions will help ensure that a business has that central node by which all customer interactions can connect towards. Building that book of record is the key piece in accumulating and executing the data to accomplish the sort of CX transformations like hyper-personalization that distinguish one commerce practice from another.

The Speed of the Human Mind: Powering Mass Consumption Instantly via 5G

Infrastructure across nations, cities, homes and businesses will upgrade to 5G to cater to mass consumption of information, instantly, everywhere, and as a result, the consequences to the digital economy will be staggering. Already we’ve seen brick and mortar rapidly erode from its conventional use-case as the nexus of shopping into a portal of customer experiences and tailored moments to match robust eCommerce solutions. 5G and the ensuing wave of digital infrastructure will only accelerate those trends further as it becomes even easier to search, engage, and purchase via any electronic device. Furthermore, that digital infrastructure can capture new consumer markets globally, putting more emphasis on useful technologies that can ensure fulfillment and tax liability across the world. So are you ready to deliver rich media. Chips, computers, phones, infra and 5G are ready to deliver it. 

Resilience: Safeguarding Your Business and the Digital Economy

All it took is one pandemic to change the nature of business irrevocably. Companies will seek to protect themselves from such events – a mindset to be battle ready in all circumstances has emerged. Both digital security protocols and multiple routes of fulfillment will be top of mind for businesses as the world moves closer to a pandemic vaccine. Tools to ensure credit monitoring and ID theft protection will find more and more value as we tilt even further into a digital first economy.

All in all, these insights reveal a commanding trend towards leveraging new technologies to heighten CX in the space. Between personalization, distribution, speed, and safety, disruption comes in many waves that each elevate a business towards the most efficient and effective commerce experience. We’re excited to implement these insights and heighten the brands we work with over the next years, and capture our onwards and upwards sentiment with the changing digital economy. In short: is your business capable of change. Rapidly.