We all know how to personalize a customer’s experience of shopping in a brick and mortar store. The dress code of the location, the greetings and approaches that sales staff are trained on, and the overall process of the store are all elements of that branding.
But online, it can feel more difficult to personalize the customer’s experience. After all, the customer usually isn’t interacting with a person, just a website. Here’s how to create that personal experience online.
Make branding consistent across platforms
Many companies are making inroads into social media—and if they aren’t, they should be—which is good news. Younger customers expect their online and digital shopping experience to be seamless, and they expect companies to be available for questions, comments, and reviews on social media networks.
Which social media networks? That depends on your brand and your marketing segment, although Facebook continues to be considered a very important space by most companies.
TIP: Create a consistent and high quality branding experience across social media platforms and web presence. Create a strategic marketing platform that lays out specifics of how different platforms will be tied together, and stick to it.
Give your customers what they want
In the online beauty segment, many retailers use unique greetings to say hello to their customers. We are all familiar with the “Hi, (name)” that Amazon started using many years ago, but some companies go farther, greeting return customers with “Hi, Gorgeous,” or “Welcome Back, Beautiful.” In the beauty segment, customers want to feel pampered and special, and these sorts of personalized greetings give them a smile.
Each segment is different, of course, so this approach may not work for every company, but the point stands. Finding out what your customers want and giving it to them is the key to every customer interaction. Does your target customer want a no-nonsense, no-frills shopping experience, but need a minute and immediate details about the specifications of a product?
Give them an easy way to search for what they need, and a wide variety of well-organized details. Does your customer want to feel pampered and special? Offer them personalized recommendations based on their shopping habits.
TIP: Using available data, customer surveys, and customer questions, find out what your customers want from their shopping experience, and make sure that they’re getting it. Don’t be afraid of using general data; studies have shown that most customers are willing to give away general information to get a better shopping experience.
Make special offers customized to customers
We’re all used to branding efforts that are clearly one-size fits all. A set percentage discount on something we’ve never bought and never looked at, free shipping at volumes we’ll never achieve, or credit card offers that are the same at every store we shop at.
Customers are sick of one-size fits all. Instead, find ways to use data to customize the shopping experience for your customers. If you see a pattern of a particular customer spending a consistent amount, look for a conservative increase to offer free shipping. If every company in your market segment offers the same cash back offer for the store credit card, find a different benefit to convince them to apply for a credit card.
TIP: Big data has arrived, and has the possibility of making your experience more personalized than ever. Dig deep into the available data for your company and use it to guide your company offerings, deals, and discounts for each customer.
More and more customers are consuming media on mobile devices, and they are finding video appealing. By using video, both on social media networks and on your own website, to engage and interest customers, you are giving them what they want. In many cases, you can also reduce the calls to customer care for basic issues by creating how-to videos. These are often more approachable than text based how-tos.
TIP: Video marketing is key for a growing segment of customers, but make sure that you use subtitles on your videos. This both improves accessibility for customers with hearing impairment or auditory processing disabilities, but makes it possible for people to watch your video on mute.
This can be ideal on public transportation, at work, or anywhere a person doesn’t have their headphones.
Customers are looking for new and more involved personalization from companies they shop with. Although personalization can go too far, such as the famous examples of when Target knew their female customers were pregnant before they told anyone, most customers want to see that their business matters to the company. Personalization is a way to make that happen.