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4 Considerations for Better Personalization

This year, I was fortunate enough to attend both ShopTalk and NEMOA, where I listened to a lot of intelligent speakers and met with a lot of intelligent marketers. With all the buzzwords flying around at these conferences, one thing I noticed was a lot of people talking about personalization. It’s a popular theme, but in my experience meeting with retail marketers, there are not a lot of brands that are doing it well. A recent study from Incite Group shows that 45% of marketers are not leveraging personalization’s potential as much as they would like. From a customer’s perspective, I know I do not receive a lot of personalization.

So the good news is, if you feel like you’re behind the 8-ball when it comes to personalization, don’t worry – you’re not alone. There are small steps you can take to achieve the personalized, one-to-one marketing that customers respond to. If you’re not doing much personalization right now, or think your personalization strategy can improve, here are 4 facets of personalization for you to consider employing:

  • Customers want to feel like you care. This is a simple, yet effective thing to do… Put yourself in the shoes of the customer, and test your marketing idea on yourself. Would you respond to this idea positively? I’ve had marketers run through this exercise and when asked whether they would respond, they say “No, I know better!” If you wouldn’t respond to your own marketing without a second thought, customers won’t either, and the concept will most likely fail.
  • Customers love the velvet-rope experience. One way to personalize the experience for customers is by providing velvet-rope experiences for special customers. As an example, you have a good customer who receives emails, engages with the brand and makes purchases online and in-store. This customer receives an email with “a special offer that only a select few have been chosen to get”. This a targeted LPO – limited person offer! She clicks through and arrives at a hidden section of the website, with a special offer for VIP customers. The experience is personalized and makes the customer feel like you recognize and appreciate everything she does for your brand.
  • Act like a friend and not a creep. This one seems obvious, but 75% of consumers feel most forms of personalization are somewhat creepy. Marketers have a plethora of data available yet they need to figure out how to use it in a relevant and meaningful way. Use the data to be more relevant, to enable customers to get what they want faster, and to create a better friendly
  • Know when to give customers an offer. A brand I like started to offer custom designed bags. As a loyal customer, I knew about this customization early and was quick to order one. I paid full-price. Shortly after receiving my new custom bag, I received a discount offer for a custom bag. To me, this is a great example of what you don’t want to do – marketing faux-pas 101. It’s not cheeky or creepy, it’s just rude. I went from being proud to feeling like a sucker. I was trying to live up to the standards of being a best customer, but they dissed me. This sent me a clear message… “you’re not special”.

Many marketers are ignoring these tips, and committing faux-pas all the time, everywhere. This is because they don’t know who their customers are, what they’ve done, nor what they are likely to do next. Marketing is still taking place in silos. Brand marketers, email marketers, web marketers, social media marketers, and search marketers are working separately and just marketing to meet their specific business metrics and objectives.

Brands need to become customer-centric vs. channel-centric. That’s another buzzword, I know! But it’s an actionable one. Instead of marketers being focused on channels, create teams of marketers focused on stages of the customer lifecycle; acquisition-focused marketers, retention-focused marketers, and best-customer focused marketers. These teams will focus on the different offers, channels, message, and overall customer experience for their one customer lifecycle segment. Marketers are rewarded not by how well their individual channel is performing, but by how many customers they can grow and encourage to move to the next customer segment.

By structuring the organization in this way, marketers can control the customer experience across channels, and provide relevant offers that will make a customer feel special, not creeped out or overlooked. Marketers will be focused on the entire customer journey, creating experiences that feel personalized and relevant every time. Now that feels personalized!

For fun, here are some of the other marketing buzzwords included in a marketing presentation at ShopTalk:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Data Mining
  • Virtual Reality
  • Algorithm
  • Deep Learning
  • Machine Learning
  • Internet of Things
  • Blockchain
  • Big Data
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Real Time
  • Wearables
  • Marketing Automation
  • Augmented Reality
  • Product Customization
  • Customer Experience
  • Natural Language Processing