The rules of engagement between brands and their customers are changing. We are now living and working in a connected world, in which customers expect their contact with a brand to always be consistent, whether that’s online, via mobile or in person. As connectivity increases, so too will the level to which consumers expect a personal, and personalised, service. Marketers and their organisations that don’t develop personal experiences for their customers could be at risk of losing out to more engaging competitors.
One size or made to measure?
The ‘one size fits all’ approach to marketing is no longer satisfactory as customers become more discerning, and increasingly fickle, about which brands they engage with. By making use of the available customer data via personalisation tools, brands can create a ‘made to measure’ campaign, sending the right message to the right customer at the right time. The ability to harness their data to an extent that allows them to present consistent, personalised interactions with their customers via the right channel allows brands to successfully meet buyer expectations and gain a competitive advantage.
For those companies, across all markets, who have the ability to capture individual customer data via a sign-in page, subscription or similar, then highly targeted personalisation is very much within grasp. By building up a profile of each customer based on browsing, purchase history and demographic data, organisations have access to the information they need to create a truly individual personalised experience.
In these cases inspiration can be taken from organisations such as Netflix and Amazon, who are already operating hugely personalised experiences. Netflix uses customer data to personalise the user experience, creating individual bespoke offerings to choose from and allowing their chosen content to be streamed seamlessly across devices and channels. The chosen content can even be left in one place and then picked up elsewhere at a later date, for example moving from viewing a film via the web to continue the same film at the same point on a mobile device.
As has been shown with the success of Netflix and the apparent drop in illegal downloading, consumers are willing to not only part with their data, but also their cash for these type of personalised value added services. This gives us a clear insight into how customers wish to engage and consume services, underlining the opportunities presented by creating a strong, personalised customer experience. It may not be appropriate for all organisations to have this type of one-to-one relationship with their customers, but for the majority of organisations, there is real value in better targeting and engaging with their customers.
Making the most of what you know
The idea of personalising marketing campaigns is not a new concept. Brands have been segmenting their own consumer data in order to connect with prospects for a long time. Previously, this often involved marketers creating manual customer segments and rules in order to facilitate these campaigns. This approach works if you are only targeting a few specific customer segments, but it doesn’t allow for the scale of customisation needed in order to create the type of one-to-one personalisation found with Amazon and Netflix. To create a higher level of engagement without spending multiple man-hours on manual testing and segmentation, organisations should look to platforms that allow automated personalised digital experiences with adaptive virtual learning. This gives companies the ability to more easily calculate the right digital experience to deliver to each user.
What about those organisations who cannot capture individual personal data? Or brands that need to personalise to unknown and new site visitors? Without the precision that individual customer data delivers, the process becomes more complex. Here, brands should combine data from multiple sources such as location, browsing behaviour, time of day, weather, etc and constantly analyse which combinations work best to create a bespoke experience, even for entirely new visitors.
Personalisation platforms can help to automate the tools that all organisations, whether targeting known customers or new prospects, need to use in order to begin creating a truly engaging and relevant experience. A/B and Multivariate testing, user profiling, segmentation and targeting can all be automated, allowing marketers to drill deeply and effectively into their available data without the need for extra staffing resources. Marketing departments now have the ability to create dynamic and engaging content based upon information available to them about each user.
Personalisation tools that adapt as users interact with a site, creating ever-more tailored content, draw consumers in, increase conversions and keeps them coming back. With the latest technology being affordable and readily available, personalisation can become something that is in the reach of all organisations regardless of the sector they are operating within.
By Emma Acton, Senior Director of Marketing, EMEA & APAC at Acquia.
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