Today’s consumers expect your brand to provide experiences that feel as if you know their interests and needs, provide helpful recommendations and motivating promotional offers, and show up in their life at just the right time.
It sounds great. It’s far harder to implement.
It’s also critically important to your brand’s ability to compete in a world where customer experience is the final frontier of differentiation. A positive or negative experience is how consumers decide whether they will buy from you or your competitors, how much they’ll spend, and whether they’ll come back. In fact, 64% of customers say their experience is a more important factor in their purchase decision than is price.
So, how does your brand ensure you are creating the type of positive customer experience that leads to building a mutually beneficial relationship with customers? You have to get personal - in a good way.
You can intentionally design and create personalized experiences that make customers feel known, seen, heard, and valued.
This is personalization. And, you have to get it right.
Marketers have tossed around the idea of personalization for so long that its definition has become vague and theoretical. For many brands and vendors, personalization boils down to list segmentation.
For example—you are a fitness retailer. You identify 100,000 females aged 25–34 years old, with an average income of $35,000–$50,000 in your CRM. From this list, you narrow it down to 2,000 females in this demographic that are also runners. In theory, your list is segmented into females that should resonate with messages for your latest running shoes.
From the brand’s perspective, these females will receive a “personalized” campaign that relates to their passion as runners.
Let’s take a look at what this feels like from some of the female’s perspectives:
Maria is a 25-year-old new mother who bought fitness apparel after she had her baby. She’s tired, up all night, and hasn’t run in a year.
Tanisha is a 33-year-old executive who has completed five marathons and is training for her next one. She runs faithfully every morning at 5am.
Yen is 27 years old and was in a car crash a year ago. She has chronic back issues and does not run at all. She bought running shoes to wear in the house to help alleviate her pain.
Under the segmentation above, all three of these women would be targeted with messages that promote the latest running shoes, featuring an image of a powerful female athlete. And, they would most likely be sent an email at a single time of day.
But who would that message resonate with? Most likely, only Tanisha.
List segmentation alone is not enough to create the feeling that a brand “gets you” or to ultimately deliver a positive customer experience.
To do this, you have to drill down much farther.
In a truly personalized experience, our three women above would each receive different marketing messages that utilize different imagery, and they would receive them at the times, in the channels, and with the frequency that would resonate with their unique situation. While you wouldn’t know every detail of their life situations, you would, or should, know their purchasing history with your brand, when they engage with your brand, what type of messaging they tend to respond to, which channels they use, and how your messaging frequency has driven their past actions.
In our above scenario, here is what you would know about each woman:
Maria has recently placed new running shoes and fitness apparel in her cart, but abandoned it twice. She has clicked on your web push ads in the early afternoon, when her newborn is napping.
Tanisha has purchased top-of-the-line running shoes and engages with your app in early mornings, before her daily run.
Yen purchased running shoes several months ago, and has only clicked on your ads on Instagram sporadically.
Based on this information for each one:
Maria would be sent a web push message with creative visuals that show a woman jogging while pushing a running stroller, and she would receive this as a web push message along with an incentive discount to complete her purchase at 2pm.
Tanisha would be sent an in-app message with visuals that light up her competitive nature for winning marathons, and she’d receive it at 4:50 a.m. since that’s when she regularly engages with the app.
Yen would be sent a social ad with visuals that encourage her to live her best life, and she’d get it at 10am, through a social channel.
See the difference? Sound impossible?
It’s not. By combining your business insight with digital intelligence that can quickly analyze massive amounts of data, it is possible today to drill into details that truly tailor your brand’s marketing to each individual and drive those conversion generating experiences.
Here’s how you do it.
Personalization is a multi-faceted, multi-sided concept. Up until AI and machine learning made digital intelligence possible, marketers were limited by how much human effort can achieve. This led to a focus on segmentation, but too often this became the singular dimension of personalization.
Digital Intelligence has changed this. Today’s marketer uses both human insight complemented with the powerful capacity of artificial intelligence and machine learning based digital intelligence to deliver multi-dimensional insights that ultimately lead to a personalized customer experience that feels right to consumers.
To expand beyond segmentation, marketers can use a framework already familiar to them.
Many of us were schooled in the “6 Ws” for writing academic reports: Why, Who, What, When, Where, and hoW (we all learned “how” as a W in school...we are also uncomfortable with it—just go with it).
Marketers can apply these six guiding questions as a framework to map out campaigns that truly make for a personalized customer experience.
Let’s dive in.
You start by asking why. Why do you need the campaign, why does it matter to your consumer and your business? Do you have a surplus of a certain product? Trouble engaging with a certain segment of your customer base? Has your competition just done something that results in you needing to react? Why you need the campaign is foundational to truly set up the remaining ‘Ws’ in a ultra-personalized way. So, are you trying to build excitement around a new style of running shoe or maybe looking to clear out an older style to get ready for new arrivals?
Who should receive the offer as a whole? And more importantly, who are the different groups you want to personalize your efforts toward?
Here, you must think beyond generalized demographics and current definitions of what personalization means at your brand. Your customers are not demographics, they are individuals. They want to feel that your brand understands their preferences, desires, and goals.
Maria, Tanisha and Yen are very different women and you need details on each one before you can begin to contemplate what the specific offer and creative should be for each one. When thinking about them, you should take into account three types of information:
Profile: The starting point to your personalization—demographics such as age, location, and gender is your first step, they are just not the only step. Favorite sports teams, shoe size, and recent purchases are also included in this level of segmentation.
Session: Continue your efforts by personalizing your messaging based on app activity. Last app open, length of session, type of device, etc. are all ways to further get to know your customers.
Behavioral: Go above and beyond and segment by your consumers’ behaviors. Browsing history can showcase interests and preferences. Characteristics of behavioral events, like shoe size, color, and price can also give clues that can drive successful personalization of your messages.
By leveraging this breadth of information, Maria might be segmented into ‘running moms with a love of all things yellow’’; Tanisha in the ‘hard core marathoners who will pay top dollar for the latest gear’, and Yen in the ‘cost conscious, fashion focused, casual runners’.
Now that you know why and who, you need to decide what specific product you are presenting, what type of promotional offer, if any, and the different creative for each message.
Based on the segmentation in our previous example, Maria, Tanisha and Yen should receive three different offers with different creatives aligned with their segment characteristics. For example, Tanisha would receive a message promoting your cutting edge running shoe and no promotional offer, while Maria might receive a message for 20% off those hard to sell yellow running shoes that are about to be replaced by a new style. However, it’s not humanly possible to manage different offers and creative for every single customer. But, with digital intelligence, it is possible to manage a large variety of campaign options and to match these options with the “who” segments you create - you can even do this dynamically at the moment a message is opened.
Timing is everything. Today there are 86,400 seconds of opportunities a day to market to someone. When is the best time to send each offer to each customer? It is not going to be the same. Maria, Tanisha and Yen live very different lives and engage with your brand at different times of day. It’s important that you customize the timing when each one is most likely to see the offer and engage with it. As we saw earlier, Maria engages around 2pm; Tanisha engages around 5am; and Yen engages around 10am.
We’re not saying you can manually determine each send. That isn’t possible. However, digital intelligence can zero in on this information based on all the individual customer data points that inform a “profile” for each customer.
The “best” time for customers changes as their lives change, too. People switch jobs, have children, move, start new hobbies; their lives are dynamic—and these changes can shift when they are most likely to engage engage with a message from your brand.
The closer you get to sending offers when they resonate most with each customer, the more you foster openness and responsiveness in the customer.
As important as when you send offers, is which channel you choose to send them on. Every customer has a preferred channel where they spend more time and are most likely to see and click on the message. Consider the mechanism: Is it a web push? Inbox? App push? In-app messaging? eMail? Social? It’s an increasingly difficult decision as new channels continue to appear in the market.
Maria is a traditionalist and favors the web. Tanisha only uses the app. Yen is hooked on social.
Which channel you use will also depend on the specific types of messages you’re sending. If you’re focused on cart abandonment, for example, which channel would be best to try to encourage a customer to complete the purchase? Let the data answer that.
Show up too often and customers get annoyed, and potentially unsubscribe or churn off your app. Worse, they click over to a competitor. How often should you interact with your customer? It’s complex.
Maria doesn’t engage frequently with your brand online, her tolerance for frequency may be far less than say, Tanisha, who engages your app every day. Yen may be open to more frequency if your messaging adds positive value to her days.
Getting the frequency right is essential. If you over message Maria, she may churn off your app, yet, if you don’t message her enough, you may not break through all the distractions she has as a new mother.
Optimizing frequency is, again, a job for digital intelligence. Each customer will have different tolerance levels for how often you communicate with them. Tailoring frequency is critical to true personalization.
When you use the 6Ws as a framework to help personalize your campaigns, you can build out customer experiences that truly resonate with your customer base. When you do, you encourage engagement and build experiences that drive loyalty and retention. But are you ready? If the depths of personalization outlined in this ebook feel daunting, keep in mind that most companies fall into different “maturity” levels when it comes to their ability to personalize marketing campaigns. It’s okay to start where you are and grow.
To identify these maturity levels, we ran a study of 23 billion data points sent by Localytics customers during 2018. We found that you can put a brand’s marketing into one of four progressively more sophisticated groups based on what methods the brand uses to personalize their messages and how broadly they employ the 6Ws. They’re called the Stages of Personalization.
Not surprisingly, we discovered that the more sophisticated the stage, the better the average message performance, and that moving up even one stage to the next can have a massive impact on average message performance. For example, the average message from brands in stage 3 had a click-through conversion rate that was 68% higher than the average click-through conversion rate for a message from brands in Stage 2. We saw similar improvements across almost all other measurements of message performance, from open rate to subsequent app sessions.
To learn more about which Stage of Personalization your brand is at and how you can level up, read The Stages of Personalization. Knowing your Stage can help you understand what to do now and how to incrementally move to the next level as you continue to improve your personalization capabilities.
Localytics gives you rich, contextual data about your customers, the digital intelligence that leverages this data to optimize personalization and the marketing channels to engage personally and meaningfully. And, we offer Services to bring it all together, allowing your customers and prospects to have the type of positive brand experience that will maximize revenue, loyalty, and customer retention.
We work with you to help you truly make it personal for every customer.