Categories
Marketing & Advertising

Customer Data, Personalization & The Customer Experience

There’s a difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer, says Shep Hyken, customer service expert.

These days, consumers are accustomed to being pampered and treated like royalty, which means you have to go out of your way to attract and keep them.

But what’s the X factor, the secret sauce that makes all the difference, and turns your happy customers into loyal ones?

The answer is pretty straightforward and a bit surprising – personalization.

This useful practice can make a world of difference when it comes to building brand loyalty and getting your customers to pick you over your competitors (even if they offer more for less.)

I know that sounds like an overstatement, but recent surveys corroborate my superlative; 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer who addresses them by their name, offers items based on their past purchases, or knows their purchase history – and packages this offer well.

Let’s discuss how personalization (powered by big data) can give you a competitive edge when it comes to creating unique customer experiences.

 

What Is Customer Experience?

Before we delve into the topic of improving your customer experiences, it’s essential first to define this concept.

In layman’s terms, customer experience is the long-term impression your brand leaves on your customers. It results from all the interactions they have with your brand and products or services. So, every time a customer or a prospect interacts and engages with you, they asses and analyze whether their expectations have been met or surpassed, thus adding different nuances to their overall perception of your company.

These customer touchpoints can be your logo, social media posts, website content, graphic design, product offers, newsletters, purchases, or chats with your sales or customer service reps. Content marketing for smaller businesses is even more relevant than the others.

It’s more than evident that you have to deliver at all times if you want to keep a perfect score and win your customers over.

 

Go Big or Go Home

To personalize your customer experiences, you need to know as much as possible about your prospects, their issues, needs, and interests, and implement this knowledge into your marketing and sales strategies.

In other words, what you need is big data, that is, vast and diverse sets of data which you then also have to process, analyze, structure, and make sense of. This data can refer to information from Twitter feeds, explainer videos, webpages, video interviews, video editors, mobile apps or audio recordings, among many other sources and formats.

A couple of years ago, it was virtually impossible to store and process such huge volumes of data, but today, the latest analytics tools allow you to handle these vast amounts of unstructured data and use them to get to know your customers better and tailor your offer to best fit their needs.

 

How to Collect Customer Data?

Although this seems like a difficult undertaking, in reality, approximately 70% of people are more than willing to share their personal information if this will improve their customer experience.

Although GDPR has introduced limitations when it comes to collecting and using personal and sensitive information, there are numerous effective methods to obtain these valuable insights and still comply with regulations.

  • Incentivize your customers. It’s a good idea to offer your prospects a discount or additional features for free, in exchange for their first name, birthday, preferred communication channel, phone number, and list of products they’re interested in.
  • Gate your valuable content. Show only a sneak peek of your most relevant content, such as e-books, reports or how-to guides, and allow your customers to download it after they sign up for your newsletter. This is a great tactic, and the fact that a prospect decides to leave their email address suggests that they’re genuinely interested in your content, which means they might be a good fit for your company. From there you just need a good email marketing solution to deliver the content, as well as a robust content distribution strategy. If you don’t want to use the most popular tool sout there then check out some of the best Mailchimp alternatives to find the one that works best for your business.
  • Implement chatbots. According to Gartner, by 2020, 85% of all customer service interactions will be powered by these smart algorithms without any human interference. Chatbots can provide 24/7 support, collect customer information, and obtain valuable feedback in a conversational manner. Such always available customer service will engage your prospects and improve their experiences with your brand – they won’t have to wait for their turn to talk to a human agent or your regular working hours to get an answer to their product-related questions. Chatbots never sleep, and they can serve several customers at the same time. Find out how to build a Facebook chatbot and take advantage today.
  • Create surveys. Customer surveys are another easy and legal way of getting the information you need directly from your customers. Make them easy to fill and do take into consideration what you learn. People love to see some of their ideas implemented.
  • Remember that consumer data can exist on your other channels. For example, let’s say that you have started a podcast. This is valuable customer data for your business as it can help you to learn more about your customer’s needs. Of course, you’ll need a podcast hosting service that supports the collection of listening data.

 

How to Make the Most of Customer Data?

Now that you’ve managed to gather relevant information on your prospects, it’s essential to put it to good use.

Successful personalization goes well beyond first name basis, so here’s what you can do with all the information you’ve got.

  • Segment your email lists. If you are using email marketing (and you should because this somewhat traditional strategy boasts a 4,400% ROI), you need to segment your contact list based on different parameters and personalize your outreach to the fullest. Email analytics and marketing software like Moosend which is a great MailChimp alternative allows you to do just that. While it’s true that all your prospects are interested in your brand, they might not be interested in the same products or services. For example, if you’re offering a 50% discount for womenswear, your male recipients will consider an email with such a deal to be spam. The same goes for your Facebook and other ads. Targeting will be successful only if you hyper-personalize your offer. You can visit LiveAgent to learn more.
  • Use product recommendations. Amazon generates 35% of its revenue through personalized customer recommendations. By offering your prospects items similar to those they have already bought or viewed, you’re increasing the odds that they’ll make a purchase. This tactic removes friction from the buyer’s journey and streamlines their search for the products they’re interested in.
  • Speed up your checkout process. A complicated checkout process is one of the main culprits behind shopping cart abandonment. Namely, if your potential customers always have to provide their personal information when making a purchase and paying for the items they want to buy, they’ll be more likely to churn and leave without buying. But, if you ask for the information necessary for making a purchase only once and store it for speeding up the checkout process in future, you’ll improve their user experience and get them to make their purchasing decision faster.
  • Tap into geotargeting. By using your customers’ location information, you can additionally personalize their experience. For example, Booking.com offers different currencies on their website, so their users can see how much a particular accommodation option costs in their local currency, thus adding to pricing transparency and preventing hidden expenses.
  • Create a customer loyalty program. Your aim shouldn’t be to generate one-time sales alone. Loyal customers spend more money and take less time to make a purchasing decision. A customer loyalty program will result in recurring purchases, which will make it easier for you to predict your revenue. It’s a good idea to offer a reward, a discount, or a freebie after a predefined number of purchases. You can personalize the entire process additionally and introduce spending-based tiers so that, for example, customers who are your biggest spenders get the most valuable rewards.

Personalization is an indispensable sales and marketing tactic and a vital differentiator which helps you gain a competitive advantage over your competitors. Given that most markets are highly saturated and that your customers have a wide range of options to choose from, you have to reach out to them on a personal and meaningful level if you want to attract and keep them. That’s where personalization comes in to build loyalty and make your customers happy.

 

Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.

Categories
Marketing & Advertising

The Future of Personalization – Data Personlized Marketing

Personalization is one of the most exciting areas in the world of advertising and marketing. Today’s consumers expect a much higher level of customization, with companies like Netflix and Spotify raising the bar in terms of what the average consumer expects.

In a year with the advent of GDPR – it’s reassuring to realize that personalized marketing and advertising can be done in an intelligent and insightful way. This is all possible while complying with privacy legislation.

Customer data and insights are at the heart of the future of personalization. We’re beginning to see the benefits of bringing vast amounts of data together to asses analyze and make the right, informed decisions.

For businesses, this translates into a more personalized marketing strategy, product personalization and the ability to adapt to ever-changing trends.

 

What is personalization?

Lack of contextual understanding for consumers’ behavior has long held back the effectiveness of personalization in spite of a wealth of data, but marketers are finally starting to get a grip on it.

Consumers are demanding more personal experiences, and everyone from retailers to advertisers, marketers and product designers now understand the benefits that personalization can bring for their bottom line.

A lack of context around consumer behavior has previously limited the level of personalization available. Data has increased, but actionable data has often been harder to identify.

As datasets have improved, businesses have become better at understanding what makes good data and how they can use this to fuel cutting edge innovation in personalization.

This ultimately provides better marketing, improved one to one experiences and the ability to predict trends and consumer needs to deliver personalized experiences across the consumer journey.

 

Understanding your business is the first step of personalization

Personalizing the consumer experience first involves understanding your business. You have to know who your customers are. You have to know what they look like, what they like to do and how they behave in different contexts.

 

Understanding the context of engagement

The first step involves understanding the context of engagement. Personalization has improved, but with some datasets, context can be hard to discern.

Without this understanding of context business risk poor personalization that consumers will reject and struggle to engage with.

Building a detailed view of how your customers use your products, engage with your various touch points and illustrates why they are doing this will provide a solid base for highly effective personalization strategy. It’s also a great case for POS integration, helping you to get a unified view of ever point of customer interaction.

An example of this involves combining data to create a holistic view of your customers. If you are looking at personalizing your brand marketing, it’s not just enough to identify that a consumer fits within the profile of your target audience.

They might not be in the right frame of mind for engagement. Combining profile data with other data sets that can signify intent is a much better way to achieve great personalization.

For example, combining profile data with precise visits data to similar categories of a store can help you to understand the context. From here it’s possible to create highly personalized communication based on real-time consumer behavior.

 

Understanding your area and target audiences

It’s essential to maintain your personalization strategy so that as things change, you can adapt your personalization strategy.

If you have a physical consumer touch point, changing trends in your area can occur quickly. Understanding these changes can give you an advantage over other brands and retailers in the area.

Visits data combined with demographic data can help to identify who visits your store, your competitor’s store, the area and where they come from.

For example, identifying that Chinese nationals visits to the area are growing month on month can be valuable for your physical retail personalization strategy. You can personalize your retail environment to drive revenue and visits.

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Get in touch to see how data can transform your personlization strategy

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Fully personalized marketing strategies

Offers, incentives and one to one marketing in retail

The challenge with many marketing strategies is that offers, promotions, and incentives are developed to be one size fits all. Many retailers, for example, will have a single offer aimed at every store visitor.

But each consumer is unique with different personalities, profiles, motivations and brand history. Personalization is valuable in these instances as it helps to deliver the desired offer to the relevant customers.

The aim with marketing personalization is to get get the ideal offer which is most likely to convert a specific customer to the customer is the right moment.

Data is enabling this process already. But using intent data such as consumer location or interaction history and matching this to the ideal offer is improving the level of personalization marketers can deliver.

By combining intent data with other datasets such as store visits or purchase data, retailers can see how each offer affects purchases. This combination means that marketers can understand the impact that each offer has physical store visits or purchases.

With data, retailers can begin to respond to each consumer at an individual level. The data that they use to achieve this will help them to simultaneously optimize these offers and the delivery of these offers to improve their marketing and their bottom line.

 

Media buying & personalization

It’s hard to talk about personalization without focusing on digital marketing personalization, and more specifically media buying.

For paid media, the ultimate goal is to achieve a one to one marketing strategy. With the rise of technology, it’s now easier and quicker to deliver personalized marketing at scale.

New datasets have developed a deeper understanding of consumers and how they behave in both the online and offline worlds. Using data allows brands to reach consumers with personalized marketing, across many different channels and touchpoints.

Understanding where and how consumers move can help brands to personalize their marketing activity. Location-based segmentation, for example, allows marketers to build more specific audiences, optimize ROI and reduce wasted ad impressions.

Media buying platforms offer many ways to segment audiences, but a rise in unique third party datasets have meant that marketers can segment and fine-tune audiences better than ever before.

 

Predictive personlization

The data that marketers now have at their disposal has enabled them to do more than just personalize based on past consumer behavior.

Advanced datasets can take personalization to the next level. Marketing personalization is becoming predictive. Brands and advertisers can now combine multiple data sources to understand how consumers behave on both a micro and a macro level.

Using this information, it’s possible for marketers to become predictive with their personalization.

Marketers can continuously update their perceived customer profiles with data that explains a consumers profile clearly. This helps the business to personalize the consumer journey and remove potential barriers to purchase.

Data is enabling businesses to understand which areas to invest in the future to deliver personalization.

 

The personalization power of unified datasets

As we’ve already alluded to – the future of marketing personalization doesn’t just involve a single dataset. It’s the combination of many which will bring new levels of personal marketing and brand interactions.

As data increases the trend for unified datasets will do so as well. To create high levels of personalization we need to find an effective way to consolidate the data sets that can fuel personalization.

Data platforms are catching up with the personalization needs of the modern marketer. The infrastructure is advancing to support the staggering growth of data that is available for marketers to drive personalized marketing efforts.

The data is useful to drive marketing personalization, but it will soon extend beyond this into other areas of the business. Data platforms are delivering highly personalized marketing to customers, but they are also having an impact in other areas such as logistics, the supply chain, and product development.