Customer personalisation can take many forms, such as adding customers' names to products, providing them with highly targeted recommendations or offers and even involving them in the design of their own product or service. But whatever form it takes, personalisation benefits both the brand and the customer, according to Barry Smith, senior consultant for data analysis firm Ikano Insight.
We know 66% of us shop around extensively to get the best deals, a further 60% of us often wait to see if the price drops over time before making their purchase and scarily for brands, almost a third (30%) of 16-24 year olds use their mobile phone in-store to compare prices there and then before making a purchase.
So with this in mind what do marketers need to consider when developing a personalised customer engagement strategy? Here are Ikano Insight's top ten tips for "me-me" marketing:
- Prioritise your most engaging strategies
Take a closer look at your customer journeys, where the customers are engaging with your brand and map out the journeys and identify the real pain points. Prioritise by starting small to tweak just one or two features or red flag areas and grow your personalisation strategy from there, focusing on what's most engaging for the customer.
- Make sure there is a business case for personalisation
Your company's objectives should flavour your personalisation strategy. For example an online travel agency's brand position may be to offer customers excellent value for money. Personalisation should offer individuals tailored prices based on their previous bookings or search history when logged into their site; the personalisation is based on their understanding of what each individual customer is willing to pay versus a competitive backdrop.
- Collaborate with your colleagues
Team work makes the dream work - or what I'm trying to say, in a less clich way, is involve different departments when you're looking at your personalisation plan. No-one knows your customers better than you and your colleagues, and so everyone in your company will have different ideas, expertise and knowledge of what forms of personalisation would work for your customers. Capture all of this vital information through brainstorms or monthly meetings. It's also worth setting up a feedback process so you can ensure you're always aware of what's working really well and where there is room for improvement.
- Plan and educate internally and externally
Internally, it's important from the onset to communicate how your personalisation strategy works and why it benefits customers. Externally, remember the only reason you're doing this is to give value back to your customers, to surprise and delight them, so make sure you tell them about it! Plan a launch strategy and how this will be applied across all channels. Not only this, but to personalise you need data, so ensure that your communications build trust about how customer data will be used.
- Ensure your customers know the benefits of data collection
Remember that a large proportion of activities your customer does on a day-to-day basis, whether buying their lunch, shopping online or going for a drink after work, will involve requests for their data so they can be presented with the latest deals and offers. By the time they get to you they might be fed up of being asked for their email address and phone number, let alone be concerned about data breaches. So make sure they know why you're asking for that information, but most importantly (in their eyes) what great perks will they get as a result? How will their customer journey with you improve? Ultimately make sure they know it's all for their benefit, not yours.
- Be open and transparent
Continuing with the theme of reassuring the customer, it is crucial that as well as explaining the benefits of them sharing their data with you, you also need to be open and honest to explain how it will be used. Be clear with them about when it will be used, by whom and how long for, and be completely transparent about what they can do if they change their mind.
- Operate on your customers' terms
Personalisation goes beyond just making sure your customer gets information from you that's relevant to them and in the ways the have requested it. When it comes to them sharing their data you could consider different levels of opt in. For example you could provide an opportunity for your customer to only share as much as they want to share with you. For example, do you need to collect their name? Could you perhaps assign a number to them instead? Putting strategies like this in place can help limit the fear of data breaches and ultimately increase the amount of valuable data you can gather.
- Respect your customer
The customer, as an individual with a personality, is integral to your personalisation strategy. Seems pretty obvious doesn't it, but it's surprising how many companies still communicate with their customers via blanket, impersonal methods. A successful personalisation strategy involves identifying and understanding your customer, what makes them different to other customers, what are their common behaviours? Target personas, not your customer base as a whole.
- Create relevant and timely content
I don't need to tell you that the type of content you share with your customers is incredibly important; it needs to be relevant, timely, and engaging. If you're successful this is an on-going relationship, so treat it as you would any relationship, regular contact but not too regular, find out when and how often your customer's want to be communicated with and listen to what they tell you they want from you.
- Capture your customers' feedback
There's a clear pattern throughout this article, namely that you need to honest and upfront with your customers, find out what they want and target them appropriately - but that's not all. Possibly equally as important as all of those points is ensuring you create a customer feedback mechanism. You've already built your personalisation strategy to include everything your customers want from you, but you must find out what they think of it in order to evaluate its success. There may still be areas to tweak; personalisation takes time, but the rewards and return on investment when you have customers who want to keep coming back to you because you understand them as an individual is priceless.
Ikano Insight has published a white paper entitled 'Personalisation: The Do's and Don'ts of Me-Me Marketing', providing greater depth and insight, which has been made available for free download from the company's website - click here (free registration required).