Personalization and what it means for today’s marketers
by Erica Skelly
Personalization has been a buzz word within the marketing world for years. However, the concept of utilizing data to customize user experiences and increase relevancy for the customer is a marketing tactic businesses of all sizes can no longer ignore.
In the past, we’ve seen tech leaders like Tesla, Apple and Amazon show customers what it feels like to be known. Their deep pockets of data and in-house systems make it possible to utilize every element of the customer journey to enhance it for future interactions.
But how do others achieve a similar end? Don’t all customers deserve this type of digital experience even if they aren’t all tech giants?
Simply put, yes.
The power behind personalization
In a time where everyone’s individual newsfeeds are based on their own interests and actions (views, clicks, likes, etc.), this mindset has elevated customer expectations for digital experiences raising the bar for everyone. As companies work to increase the number of brand loyalists, knowing what is important to their customers and being ready with relevant content at every touchpoint can often be the deciding factor.
The development of personalization has required our technology stacks to truly work together connecting key consumer data powering the next experience for the customer.
It’s forced companies to look at their data sources they have (or consider building them) to ensure they aren’t leaving customers behind in this evolution. The impending sunset of 3rd party cookies in 2023 will only accelerate this seismic shift with businesses. A comprehensive suite of solutions bringing together a 360 view of the customer will be table stakes in the future.
Using existing architecture and data streams to reach the desired level of personalized connection for your business often presents a formidable challenge. Luckily, there are several tools available to fill in gaps or to be part of a complete rebuild.
Enhancing the power of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Interaction Studio is a real-time interaction management (RTIM) solution that provides powerful segmentation and sophisticated AI to deliver contextually relevant experiences that inspire customers to act. Marketers can visualize, track, and manage customer experiences to drive valuable engagement at the right moment — in the way customers and prospects prefer — to increase loyalty, engagement, and conversions.
Regardless of the path you choose, putting in the time to construct a fully functional connective back-end system will pay off in achieving your business’ goals faster and more efficiently in the future.
It’s not all about technology
Good technology doesn’t stand on its own. How a business is personalizing should be based on their business goals, performance KPIs and asking key questions to bring a laser focus:
- What drives your business?
- What are the key touchpoints (Digital & IRL) that drive conversion?
- What puts your “high-value customer” in that audience category?
- How can you drive more business through them?
- How can you elevate other customer segments to increase business impact?
- How connected, from end-to-end, is the experience you’re creating for your customers?
For example, one business may implement a location-based personalization strategy to drive impact to the brick & mortar location while another looks to provide their customers with a carousel of ‘Favorites’ or ‘Buy Again’ offerings digitally increasing sales, but with differentiated tactics. Both tactics could be beneficial to the same business but utilized for specific customer segments based on how they interact with the business. Aligning goals and strategy ahead of any implementation will ultimately lead to better measured results for your customer.
Personalization should also exist throughout the customer journey. Understanding how each key customer segment navigates your digital space creates opportunities for ways to personalize to keep users engaged in the funnel. A simplistic example of this is alerting customers when they have abandoned their cart.
The elevated experience provided to the customer through personalization rules and use cases itself could be the driver of additional visits or purchases — ultimately building retention and loyalty for the business. Staying vigilant when it comes to regular reporting to ensure learnings from customers are being utilized for similar audiences driving future business impact.
The customer is the channel
While a solid technology platform and business strategy are important, customers should play THE central role when developing the strategy informing personalized experiences.
They can be a central determinant as to which data a company can collect. How a business secures and utilizes key customer data can require a customer’s permission like capturing cookies, opting into email, text messages, or any other offsite communication. As regulations continue to tighten and evolve to keep the customer’s data safe, individual allowances from the customer will likely do the same. Proving your business is trustworthy with this type of information will be key for future evolution in this space.
This makes Brand Trust another key piece of the puzzle. A customer’s level of trust in a business can directly impact how much communication they opt into. Building up a customer’s trust can take time and can be earned by providing a seamless, reliable experience — both digitally and in person.
Simple details of a customer’s experience can drive brand trust and it’s not a one size fits all. Some customers are motivated by speed and convenience while others are dazzled by low pricing. But everyone wants a positive customer service experience to ensure they come back. As each successful encounter with a customer is collected, your tech stack should be able to analyze and derive insights to determine what is needed for the next successful encounter with that customer.
Don’t just “set it and forget it”
While elements of personalization can be automated, keeping up with customers’ needs and interests will need to be managed, tracked and updated. For continued success, it’s critical to manage this as an iterative process: test, learn and adapt to build on what you know with what you learn to inform the best way to move forward.
It’s exciting to know that we have access to so much of what our customers want and need from our businesses. Working to continually evolve the story for them is our job as marketers and our duty to give every customer the joy of being known, heard and spoken to exactly as they want to be.
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