Research suggests that 46 per cent of consumers now feel overwhelmed by the sheer choice of products and services aimed at them through digital channels. Personalization can help make marketing communication more meaningful and give people a better sense of control by ensuring that they only receive content that is relevant to them.
It also makes perfect business sense. A study of 1,000 consumers revealed that 80 per cent of us are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences, with 90 per cent saying they find personalization appealing.
Personalization itself is becoming increasingly sophisticated, making use of in-depth customer data, analytics and profiling, combined with large doses of automation. Here are four examples of innovative personalization techniques that can help consumers feel less overwhelmed – by ensuring that the information they’re seeing is tailored to their individual needs and preferences.
1. Personalized web experiences
Delivering fully personalized experiences to people who visit your website makes their lives easier by filtering out content that’s not relevant and showing them the information that really matters to them instead. This is even more important today with the majority of web visitors using a mobile device and having to contend with finding what they want on a small screen with trickier site navigation – usually in shorter browsing sessions.
Thanks to dynamic website personalization (DWP) techniques it’s now possible to personalize everything on a website from images and text to navigation bars and recommended products shown to individual visitors, in real-time. Using machine learning and predictive techniques you can personalize the online experience based on individual visitors’ current and past behaviors, including their browsing patterns, purchase histories, and social networking cues such as ‘likes’ and ‘favorites’.
Sites such as Amazon, Netflix and Spotify are the ‘poster boys’ of this kind of website personalization, customizing their content to deliver completely individualized experiences, populated with the products and services most likely to interest each customer. At the heart of this is a powerful recommendation algorithm designed to identify the products and content that appeal to each individual.
2. Using white space on bills and statements
Because consumers are bombarded with marketing and sales messages at every turn, even expertly targeted, highly personalized content can be overlooked amid all the other marketing ‘chatter’. That’s why marketers engage in transpromotional or ‘transpromo’ communications.
This involves adding personalized messages to the white space on transactional documents such as customer bills and statements (whether they are online or on paper). These are the documents that customers are most likely to look at and engage with on a regular basis.
Rather than always peppering documents with overt sales messages, a subtler approach is to include a mix of personalized information and advice. A power company might display charts highlighting a household’s daily consumption patterns or insert a link or QR code to an energy saving guide, or provide offers based on each customer’s particular circumstances, for example.
Transpromo has great potential as a tool for long-term relationship and brand building as well as for the more direct ‘hard sell’.
3. Event-based personalization
This is about delivering maximum (positive) impact by delivering in-the-moment personalized communications – emails, social interactions, SMS messages, and so on – at the time that’s most relevant and convenient for your customers. It serves to strengthen the customer relationship at key points or events in the customer journey.
Google’s concept of micro-moments points to specific moments in a consumer’s day when they are most likely to be receptive to a communication from your brand. Examples include dispatching a thank you or welcome email the moment a customer places an order or signs up for a service; sending a personalized offer to a web visitor who has spent a period of time visiting certain product pages or has abandoned a shopping cart; or sending an SMS to a customer who is close to an agreed credit limit.
It may sound complex to achieve, but the good news is that specialist customer communications management software can work with your CRM and other business applications to automate the processes involved. For example, the generation of personalized documents, and delivery to the customer’s preferred communications channels (such as email, website, apps and SMS), can be automatically triggered by business rules.
4. Cross-device tracking and targeting
We live in a multi-device world, with consumers using their smartphones, tablets, PCs, smart TVs, voice assistants and more during different stages of the customer journey. Data from GlobalWebIndex suggests, for example, that the average consumer today owns around 3.2 interconnected devices.
By connecting the dots between these separate interactions that happen across the various devices, you can create a holistic picture of the customer that allows you to deliver highly individualized offers, content and advertising. It means that an ecommerce site, for example, can show its visitors ads, offers and content on their laptops or desktops that are related to the pages they browsed when they visited the site on their smartphone during their morning commute.
After all, brand experiences should be consistent, allowing for people to begin an activity on one device and finish on another.
This is an area that’s still evolving. There are currently two main approaches to cross-device ID tracking. The first is the deterministic model championed by the likes of Google and Facebook which relies on users being logged in on multiple devices in order to allow their activity to be tracked as they switch between smartphone, laptop, desktop and smart TV. The other is the probabilistic model, which collects a variety of non-permanent, user-resettable data points such as device type, operating system, IP address, WiFi network, cookies, and so on, and uses machine learning and big data systems to algorithmically match a person or household across devices.
In a world where we are bombarded by information from all sides, it’s essential to find ways to cut through the noise and engage more meaningfully. So it’s hugely encouraging to see businesses delivering more of what customers actually want by using new technology to act on individual preferences and behaviors. The stars are now aligned for personalization at scale, heralding a new era of customer relationships based on genuine understanding, easier communication and mutual benefit.