So what exactly do we mean by dynamic real-time personalization, how does it work, and what are the real benefits?
There’s Personalization, and Then There’s Personalization
You know when you get a “personalized” email?
“Dear YourName, we’d like to offer you 20% off YourFavourite brand. Head over to our website!”
And you do. And you get... their homepage. And you spend all of four minutes looking for YourFavourite brand and your 20% discount... before wandering over to Amazon to pay full price.
Well, guess what? So does your customer. Because Amazon knows what she likes. And what you like. And what I like. And they’re all different.
The e-commerce giant goes way beyond basic personalization, with machine learning helping to predict consumer behavior in real time and shape their experience with contextually relevant messages that maximize conversions throughout their journey.
Let’s face it. All our customers are having an affair with Amazon. Because Amazon is the very answer to the question “What is a personalized web page?”
It is a page on which content automatically changes in real time according to who’s visiting. Copy, images, and recommendations are all tailored according to customer data, like: customer segment, gender, location, job title, preferences, browsing history, past interactions, most-recent event, lead score, and purchasing history.
It’s a page to which our customers feel welcomed and on which they are understood. It’s a page that leads them down their own personalized conversion funnel. It’s a page that creates that fuzzy-wuzzy feeling we all get just before clicking “Buy Now”.
Does Personalization Really Work?
91% of consumers are more likely to shop at brands that provide relevant recommendations and offers. But on average, 71% of consumers are frustrated by an impersonal shopping experience.
I mean, can you blame them? Every brand out there worth their salt is getting personal. If you’re not, you’re losing to those that are. A website without personalization is like Harry Potter without a wand; Ron Weasley.
By providing pages tailored specifically to your customer’s interest and desires, you can boost impulse buys, total spend, and repeat business, and also increase brand loyalty! Adweek’s research shows that personalization can reduce acquisition costs by 50% and boost revenue by between 5% and 15%, while increasing marketing spend efficiency up to 30%.
First Things First: Technology
That’s right, the journey to a customer’s heart starts with technology. Personalization is sophisticated stuff. And to do it well, you need software that’s up to the task.
Your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution or integrated DXP (Digital Experience Platform) should be able to collect user data (demographics and behavior) from multiple channels (website, mobile site, Chatbot, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and store it all under one customer profile.
This is key. Disparate technologies can lead to information silos and a disconnected and disrupted customer experience. And before you know it, you’re finding Amazon lipstick on that collar again.
A linear customer path in today’s world is a rare one. You need to ensure a unified cross-channel experience whereby a customer who abandons a session on his desktop at home, can pick up from the same place on his mobile a week later and be presented with the same message.
You need to be able to track all touch points through his journey and what happened at each; even in store! And then all that information needs to be stored in one place! Did I say that already? Perhaps not.
One customer + multiple touchpoints = one profile.
You don’t want to continue advertising your deluxe mattress to the customer that just purchased it in store! Not only might you appear ungrateful, but you’re wasting money and missing your opportunity to promote your mattress protectors.
Nor do you want to be sending cheery “Upgrade to version three” emails to the disgruntled customer who’s still waiting for version one.
And that’s why one integrated solution will be your best friend. I guess I mentioned the “one profile across all channels” thing?
Only when all data is in one place can a true 360° view of the customer emerge and you can start responding to things like:
- engagement levels
- journey stage
- lifetime value
- purchase frequency
- price sensitivity
- overall satisfaction
Personalization should enable you to react instantly, as if you were talking to your customer face to face.
We all know Netflix personalizes its recommendations based on your viewing tastes, but they also adjust the artwork they use in them! If you’re into action, the image used to promote Superman could be dangerous and heroic. If you love romantic comedies, it might be a smooch with Lois Lane.
The Power of Understanding Your Customer’s Context
Once you get a sense of your 360° customer and you’ve started adding colors, like lifestyle, personality, values, interests, opinions, and attitudes to their profile, you realize there’s even more to it.
It’s important to understand the context of your products and how that fits into the context of your customers’ lives.
Product context: Does your product fall into the need-to-have or nice-to-have category? Does it come with a high price tag? Does it need to be replaced/replenished frequently? Is it typically bought as a gift? How is it used? What role is it playing in your customer's life?
Customer’s context: What season is it? What is the local weather? What events are going on nearby? What time of day is she usually working/ traveling/ relaxing? Is it Monday morning, or Friday afternoon? Is she likely sitting on a cramped train? Or comfortably browsing at home?
Mindset matters. Time of year and weather have been shown to greatly impact buying behavior. As have time of day, situational factors, and mood.
Hair Care company, Pantene, knew that most bad hair days were caused by weather; frizz in the humidity of summer, and lack of moisture in winter. So it launched its HairCast campaign in which it advertised its various shampoos according to customers’ local weather. They saw a sales increase of 24% at Walgreens during July and August.
Ok, So What Does Successful Personalization Look Like?
Let’s imagine we’re the marketing magician for a sports shop called FASTER.
Emma is a mortgage advisor from Queens who is training for the New York Marathon. It’s her first time and it’s the hottest summer on record.
Thursday 4pm - On foot
Mobile search: Best Sneakers for Marathon
She finds your website, but she loses signal.
Thursday 5pm - Manhattan Coffee House
Friend is late for ice-tea date. Where is he? Opens messenger.
Messenger ad: “FASTER sneakers: keeping you cool in the heat, find us as Manhattan Mall - 5 minute walk!”
She’s impressed. But busy.
Thursday 9pm - At home
Browsing her feed, checking out Marathon page.
Facebook ad: “Running the New York Marathon? You bring the heart, we’ll bring the sole - 20% off for new customers.”
Super impressed. Click-through. The 20% discount is front and center, along with marathon-training must-haves for women and links to running groups in Queens. Browse. Create Account. Add sneakers to wish list. Flick through recommendations. Add socks and light-weight t-shirt.
Friday 3pm - Office
Email: “Hi Emma, Why not try before you buy? FASTER sneakers in stock at Queens Shopping park, open all weekend!”
Shame she’ll be out of town.
Monday 10am - Office
Email: “Sick of mortgages? Then run! Your FASTER shoes are ready and waiting!”
Oh, go on then.
(Never underestimate the value of after-sales service. You should see it as between-sales service!)
Day of marathon:
SMS: “Enjoy the marathon, Emma. We’re rooting for you!”
Her Fuzzy wuzzy is. Off. The. Charts. And your customer is a customer for life.
Want to be the marketing magician? Learn more about Content Personalization in Kentico.