Taking personalisation to the next level – from data, to decisions, to design

Today’s shoppers are impervious to mass marketing techniques and expect personalisation that truly reflects their preferences. These were the findings from our recent research, “The Art of Personalization— Keeping it Relevant, Timely and Contextual”, where consumers in all countries surveyed said that most communications they receive still feel like mass marketing messages that weren’t created with them in mind (France 47%; UK 42%; Germany 40%; US 36%).

Despite the fact that shoppers say the vast majority of personalisation messages they receive often miss the mark, however, an impressive number were still prompted to check out an offer or make a purchase. In fact, around one-third of messages received by US (37%) and French (32%) consumers had stimulated them to act, while around one-quarter of messages received by German (27%) and UK (26%) consumers urged them to respond.

The learning point for retailers and brands is clear. Taking personalisation efforts to the next level represents a significant opportunity to further drive up consumer engagement and reap the resulting rewards. But what are the steps that they need to take in order to achieve this successfully?

One thing is for sure: personalisation does not equate to overloading consumers with high volumes of messages and communications that are not relevant or timely, or tailored to their individual likes and tastes. Consumers are exhausted by the growing frequency and number of messages that they encounter in every channel.

Prepared to trade off their personal data to get the personalisation they desire, they’re looking to brands and retailers to truly know who they are and add value to their lives; whether that’s delivering highly selective and targeted communications that save them time and money or helping them navigate the myriad of choices that confront them whenever they need a specific product or service.

To be successful with personalised messaging, companies should employ the following approach:

Initiating end-to-end personalisation

Data: Build a rich real-time view of the customer and involve them in the process: Build a data foundation that delivers a rich customer view. Collect customer data onto a single platform, using advanced analytics to process and AI to refine this data. Mine this data to create relevant and personalised messaging that demonstrates empathy and understanding of a customer’s needs and shopping preferences.

To help overcome consumer data privacy fears, offer shoppers opportunities to share their individual wants and likes. Engage in feedback on how happy they are with the products they have purchased, and what other options they’d like to buy in the future.

Decisioning: Identify meaningful personalisation opportunities: Less is sometimes more especially where email is concerned, and email is an easy platform for consumers to dismiss if the messages they receive rarely relate to their interests. Consider reducing the volume of emails sent and applying decisioning engines to ensure every message is triggered by the behavioural clues that flag a true personalisation opportunity.

Keep in mind that personalisation goes beyond simply using someone’s name and try to move beyond basic personalisation strategies and antiquated ‘list pull’ segmentation practices. Instead, deploy adaptive modelling and nimble data utilisation so that you can scale up the delivery of personalised interactions that are meaningful.

Design: Test and learn to refine your approach: To find the right content for each customer at a given time and channel, create hypotheses on what offer will work on an individual customer, on which channel, and when. Test out these hypotheses and improve your outreach approach, depending on the outcome. For example, ideally showing different landing pages and using tailored/individual message layouts.

Always seek to understand what equates to value from a customer’s perspective — for customers, the value of personalisation is all about getting relevant messages in a timely manner. It’s a balancing act that depends on customers trusting brands and retailers with personal information in return for insights and decisioning support that’s tailored at an individual level.

Delivery: Combine messaging platforms to boost engagement rates: Take advantage of alternative channels like text/SMS and Instagram and try out different combinations of messaging platforms to increase engagement rates.

When it comes to location-based messages, exercise sensitivity and caution because, while catching consumers in shopping mode can create significant gains, appearing invasive may have a negative impact. Make sure you have built the appropriate trusted relationship and tested out the waters before you push the button for location-based messages to an individual shopper.

The privacy/personalisation trade-off: Understanding the consumer perspective

Consumer awareness about their data privacy rights, as enshrined by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), was impressively high in all European countries we surveyed. Even in the US, one-third of consumers were aware of GDPR and, presumably, would be likely to have a heightened understanding of their local data privacy laws.

With privacy increasingly top of mind for consumers, having control over personalisation is becoming key for shoppers looking to curate their experiences and limit unwanted intrusions on their time. This means that, in addition to adopting the recommended approach for initiating end-to-end personalisation, retailers and brands also need to ensure they engage in dialogues with customers that deliver transparency on how their data is used – ensuring they deploy intelligent personalisation techniques that don’t alienate current and future customers.

Read more: Personalisation strategies analysed: Potent brand messages found – if not 100% hit rate

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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