Five tips for effective personalisation

From handwritten notes to bespoke offers from stores, we pay more attention when people take time to personalise our communications.

A colleague of mine used to record every detail of conversations he had with clients, and would include them in personalised follow-up letters – even to the extent of inquiring how one particular client’s lumbago was.

This particular client found this warmth and attention to detail gratifying and respectful, and his spend with the business reflected this.

Whether you find this caring or a little uncomfortable depends on your individual preferences of course, but without a doubt, personalisation generates an emotional connection with a brand, and demonstrates that a company has taken time to record accurate details about us.

It’s an incredibly powerful marketing strategy, and strongly influences our buyer behaviours: research has shown that it generates increases of 67% in transaction value, 300% conversion rate, and 7% in annual revenue.

A mixed picture

Despite its proven success, only 18% of marketers are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ satisfied with the level of personalisation they are implementing in their marketing. 64% believe it should be a bigger priority, citing barriers including lack of budget, personnel and knowledge/skills.

businesses have significant barriers to overcome if they are to drive meaningful engagement

With access to more data than ever before, and more advanced customer information management tools, it should be straightforward for businesses to capture, enrich and maximise data to deliver a truly personalised experience, consistent across every channel.

But businesses are storing their data in silos, on disconnected systems, across disparate locations and in different formats. The quality of the information captured isn’t always sufficient, either. In fact, a study from NetProspex found that 84% of marketing databases are barely functional, and 64% of records analysed didn’t even include a phone number.

Add to this the fact that data decays at an average of 2% each month, and it becomes clear that businesses have significant barriers to overcome if they are to drive meaningful engagement with their customers and deliver a differentiated, highly personalised customer experience.

Getting personalisation right

Our research at Pitney Bowes evidences the need for businesses to make significant changes in their Customer Information Management if they are to use it to drive success.

76% of businesses surveyed have seen an increase in the volume of data they have collected over the past five years

The study found that although 76% of businesses surveyed have seen an increase in the volume of data they have collected over the past five years, 82% feel they are not exploiting their data to the full extent.

This comes in spite of the fact that consumers are happy to share more data to receive a personalised customer experience.

Whilst unwilling to offer information on such sensitive topics as income levels and family information, 53% of consumers questioned in the Pitney Bowes study said they would be happy to provide details on their hobbies and interests, if it meant they would receive more relevant, personalised communications.

48% are happy to reveal their age, and 40% to reveal more information on their buying habits.

Consumers want to be given a personalised experience across all channels – and it has been proven to drive results. So, what should businesses be focusing on to deliver this experience?

Make your data accessible

In many organisations, departments other than marketing are often the custodians of data, which can be a barrier to marketing teams trying to use analytics to deliver a highly personalised customer experience.

Finance, sales and customer service teams may all collate data which can reveal insight such as purchasing patterns and triggers, and cyclical buyer behaviours. This data needs to be made available and accessible to the marketing department as it can form the foundation for a strong and engaging personalisation strategy.

Empower the marketing team

Remember a few years ago when ‘shadow IT’ was a thing? Different functions across an organisation were beginning to take responsibility for procuring tools, platforms and technologies most appropriate to them, often without the consent of the IT department.

Now, many businesses take a more agile approach, empowering functional experts to decide which software they need to do their jobs most effectively, and to allocate their own IT budget.

Optimise geospatial data

Every time we move, we generate data. From fitness wearables to social media check-ins, valuable location intelligence can be gleaned from geospatial data.

Location intelligence adds context, creates insight and fuels opportunity. It provides the “Where?” to the “Who?” and the “What?”, and takes personalisation to the next level.

Create a Single Customer View

Organisations need to draw together the different data sets available to them to build a detailed profile and Single Customer View.

Graph databases help achieve this single view, adding a further level of insight to data: they store information as relationships, and can reveal connections within the data.

Twitter, and recruitment website, Glass Door, are both based on Graph databases, which expose patterns and connections undetectable in traditional relational databases. Graph moves databases up a gear.

Refine your omnichannel strategy

Isn’t it annoying when you have a query with a business, and have to repeat your story to different people across the organisation, for them to resolve it?

Accenture found that 89% of consumers were frustrated by having to explain their query to multiple customer service reps – the other 11% are clearly far more patient than I.  

Companies need to adapt their omnichannel strategy to keep up with the pace of rising consumer expectation, monitoring and capturing physical and digital interactions, transactions, behaviour and preferences to deliver a seamless, integrated, consistent and personalised experience.

‘Hyperpersonalised but hyperbole’

The sensitive and secure use of data to drive personalisation fuels innovation and delivers a truly differentiated customer experience: relevant and real-time, contextual but not creepy, hyperpersonalised not hyperbole.

It opens up an organisation to powerful new engagement channels such as interactive personalised video, which allows companies to use customer data in real-time to provide the consumer with a unique experience, generating results.

Organisations must accelerate their personalisation strategies in line with rapidly-evolving customer preferences, or risk isolating their customers. Data holds the key. 

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