This modern world of social media, smart phones and increasingly sophisticated digital technology has created a marketplace of consumer choice. Today, customers have a range of options at their fingertips – meaning that with the daintiest of touches on a screen they can leave one website and jump to another.
That’s why it’s crucial to get the attention of your desired customers and keep it. Customer experience has become the commercial battlefield of modern business. It is in the way we interact, communicate and service our customers that we distinguish ourselves from the competition. Consumers are demanding, picky and quick to express discontent. As marketers we need to make each and every customer journey as seamless as possible.
The state of personalisation
It’s a well-known fact among marketers that every customer is an individual - a different person with different needs, desires and preferences. Whether it’s the reason they’re buying a product or the manner in which they prefer to be contacted – no two people are the same. As marketers, to better communicate with customers we need to speak to each person as an individual - make it relevant to their situation and who they are. Treating each customer as an individual is key.
According to our 2018 Experian Digital Marketer Report, a total of 84% said they personalised their email campaigns – but this could be as simple as changing a first name. This communication channel is clearly the most popular, because if we look at the other channels available, the numbers start to drop significantly.
30% personalise re-targeting, 28% personalise website experience and 20% personalise display advertising. Of course, percentages aren’t everything as personalisation won’t be a major priority for every brand, and not every brand will use every channel. However, the numbers do lead us to question the sophistication of personalisation being attempted.
But for that we need to look at the types of data and inputs being used to inform personalisation. Over half (55%) of the respondents said basic demographic data, for example, first name, gender or age. This was closely followed by geo location data (35%). Loyalty programme data and/or first party interaction data, for example, email clicks, web browser behaviour or past purchases is being used by 28% of respondents.
These are useful, but rather limited data sets, more suited to making sure you don’t make a mistake than making the experience more relevant. Only 16% use preference centre data to personalise, which seems like a huge missed opportunity – this is information people have willingly gone and told you about themselves. Yes, it could mean that these brands don’t have preference centres – to which I ask – why not?
At one of Experian’s sessions at Festival of Marketing, we will be discussing the importance of consistent personalisation. Consistency is essential for any personalised marketing strategy because customers expect to have the same experience across every channel.
This means having data on every customer and prospect, whether they’ve interacted with you before or not, and having that data available throughout the user journey, wherever and however they engage with you.
From that very first branding advert, all the way through to conversion and beyond, it’s important to apply all data consistently. However, that can be tricky given that typically up to 40% of visitors to ecommerce websites are unknown or unrecognised until they actually transact. By this point it’s often too late as you’ll have missed the opportunity to influence that transaction, or to convert a visitor earlier, who may otherwise have clicked away from the site.
Unfortunately, marketers are often finding that they don’t have enough data to combat this or that the data that they do have is inaccurate. This all boils down to identity. If you don’t know who someone is, it’s very hard for you to determine what data you have on them and how it can be applied.
Make sure you get it right
There are dangers out there. Being too personal or delivering the wrong message to the wrong person will damage the customer’s experience and their opinion of your brand. Remember it’s all about customer experience, our aim here is to deliver better, more relevant interactions.
So be realistic and ensure you are working within your capabilities. Start with easier and higher return initiatives and prove the worth of personalisation. Once you have these foundations you should develop, upgrade and test. And, above all, don’t get caught standing still. If one thing is for sure when it comes to interacting with customers in the digital world, it’s that things will continue to evolve, and they can change quickly – so don’t get caught napping.
For me, marketers should refrain from using personalisation for personalisation’s sake. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Personalisation strategies need to be well thought out and considered, but above all based on a rich picture of the people you are communication with.
Experian will be at Festival of Marketing this week to talk more about personalisation (Thursday 11th October 12:20 – 12:55).
About Matthew Dunn
Matthew has been in the Marketing Services Industry for the past 20yrs. Running teams and businesses that help companies across any industry segment to successfully use leading edge Marketing Solutions, Data & Analytics to deliver more relevant and targeted marketing of their brands, all with the key aim of ensuring relevant engagement and so increasing customer loyalty.