Convenience vs personalisation – why the latter wins every time

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In the past, convenience has always been the ultimate goal for businesses. After all, making things easier for customers is a surefire way to keep them coming back for more. However, as the world of eCommerce has changed, consumer expectations have changed with it. In turn, we’ve entered a new era in marketing that places personalisation over convenience.

Today, customers are increasingly valuing personalisation. In short, personalisation allows for a more customised, tailored experience that feels more authentic and meaningful to the customer. Many eCommerce businesses now use personalisation to create a more unique shopping experience for their customers. By using data about a customer’s previous purchases, browsing history and preferences, businesses can recommend products and services that are more likely to appeal to that specific customer.

In addition, businesses can use personalisation to enhance the customer experience by using personalised communication and marketing automation. This can include things like personalised emails or targeted ads that are tailored to a specific customer’s interests and needs. This level of effective customer intimacy can help businesses build a stronger, more meaningful relationship with their customers, which is essential for long-term success.

Of course, convenience is still important to customers, and businesses should not neglect this aspect of the customer experience. But as we approach the recession, personalisation can be more valuable to customers and businesses, especially when it comes to building a long-term relationship.

So how did personalisation come to rule the roost? And how can businesses create and use it to build long-term success?

How the eCommerce industry’s growth made the value of convenience diminish

The convenience store. A stalwart of the community, it’s been a hub for all the essential items one could need – and it still remains that way. It represented an idea that could be adapted and advanced by eCommerce brands: give customers quick and easy access to any items they may desire. But convenience has been overshadowed by the subsequent growth of the eCommerce industry, which has ushered in a new era of customer expectations.

Convenience has generally become the norm. Therefore, its appeal and value has shifted. Customers know they can – or should be able to – browse products easily, choose how to deliver or where to pick up items and pay. What takes the experience to the next level is having the ability to offer a personalised one. Just as Spotify creates a wholly personal profile for users with a host of recommended playlists based on their interests, so too can eCommerce with suggested products, hints and tailored communication.

The rise of personalisation: technology is making personalisation a must-have

In the past, marketers often adopted the broad brushstroke technique – hit as many people at once with a generalised campaign. Then the introduction and rise of third-party cookies enabled brands to create more targeted ad campaigns to hone in on certain demographics and tailor content.

But this approach overlooked information that the customer was willing to share and therefore missed out on opportunities to achieve true intimacy. That, and the upcoming end of third-party cookies and data, has triggered further developments in marketing technology.

Advancements with AI, modern Customer Engagement Platforms (CEPs) and zero-party data have changed the game. The process involves CEPs collecting, managing and using first and zero-party data that customers are willing to share about themselves. By understanding customer behaviour, brands can create a well-rounded customer profile to personalise aspects such as website offerings, content and communication.

It’s a trend that is quickly taking hold – 90% of marketers were expected to capture zero-party data over the last year. So brands failing to capitalise on these techniques will simply fall further behind the pack. But it’s also telling that the same study showed less than half of marketers know how to use zero-party data effectively.

So how exactly can brands use this data and personalisation to build meaningful relationships with customers?

A truly personal experience

The use of zero-party data, integration of CEPs and marketing automation opens up many avenues to hyper-personalise the customer experience. Devices such as web push notifications and emails can create open and direct communication with your audience while collecting zero-party data. Brands can gather a range of data points, such as how often customers want to hear from them and what news and products they wish to see.

Equipped with the relevant information provided by your audience and their behaviour, brands can adapt their websites based on their preferences. For example, this can take the form of customised pop-up displays with product offers and discounts (in exchange for more user data). The best way to carry out the process is to accrue data gradually. It may take a bit longer, but trust will build and you will form longer-term relationships.

But the modern eCommerce website acts in real-time to customer activity. Real-time personalisation, for example, allows you to retain clients’ interest in watched products and offer suggestions for similar items while they browse. If customers can trust the recommendations you provide, they’ll be inclined to return again and again. The greater the trust, the greater the mutual benefit.

Personalisation, it’s a no brainer

It’s starting to feel out of place if you shop on a website and it doesn’t provide a personalised approach – it’s becoming an expected characteristic. As a recession closes in, the margins of being able to provide a genuine and tailored shopping experience can make all the difference in both building trust with customers and meeting business expectations.

In some ways, personalisation can be seen as a new form of heightened convenience. It gives the customer what they want – even what they didn’t know they wanted – at the optimum moment. Convenience is the minimum. Personalisation takes convenience and places it on a whole new level. It’s why it wins every time.

Greg Blazewicz
An entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in marketing and management Greg has worked in marketing agencies in New York and London, was CMO of Comarch, one of the largest IT companies in Europe (2000-2006), and CEO of Interia, Poland’s 3rd largest Internet portal. In 2011, Greg founded SALESmanago and has been running the company since then. He is a marathon runner, academic lecturer, startup mentor and author of the popular book “Marketing Automation. Towards Artificial Intelligence and Hyperpersonalization”. Greg was a finalist in the 2014 EY Entrepreneur of the Year award.

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