Why brands need to think small when personalising customer experience

Why brands need to think small when personalising customer experience Lisa Kalscheur is an accomplished senior marketing executive. She has led the evolution of many high-growth technology companies, including NewsCred and AppNexus. She has driven company revenue by building and leading diverse, agile teams of top-performing marketers to match the growing needs of global customer brands. Lisa’s expertise extends across marketing functions from brand, product marketing, demand generation, field and customer marketing, and marketing operations to content marketing, corporate communications, and digital and social media. Lisa is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on building company and client brands, as well as organisational culture initiatives including women in the workplace, and diversity and inclusion. She was the founder and co-chair of the AppNexus Women’s Network.

Despite their best intentions, knowing how to use all the insights about customers available to them to build a better understanding of what they interact with and are interested in is a crucial step brands often miss — resulting all too often in a poor user experience filled with misinformed content.

By analysing data like their ‘add to cart’ rate, page views, product views, or the referral channel bringing them to the website, brands get a much richer profile of their customers’ behaviour before creating an experience for them. Once retailers have a bigger picture of an audience group, it’s easier to explore the characteristics of customers who have seen a particular experience and see why they responded.

Salesforce’s recent State of the Connected Customer report provides some reassuring insights about the value of great customer experiences. The report also showed that shoppers are more open to being won over by new brands and will switch their loyalty for a better experience. Of course, they expect a good experience from brands in return.

Consumers today are bombarded with choices about where to buy from, creating a competitive online marketplace. The customer experience is just as important to sales as price and product.

According to new research from Google less than half (43%) of UK consumers feel retail websites know their preferences or show personalised content for them. UK retailers are lagging behind when it comes to providing unique and personalised customer experiences online, but there are ways for brands to take control of how they engage with audiences.

Bigger isn’t always better

Today, brands are typically marketing to a big audience by delivering content and messaging to the masses, such as homepage messaging, mass email marketing or non-targeted product suggestions for the entire audience. Whilst this is one way to market to customers, a Deloitte report on personalisation highlighted that half of shoppers are interested in purchasing personalised products. These tactics alone will not make consumers feel valued and more recognised and as a result, increase long term conversion rates.

We work with brands to empower them to narrow in on key factors that make up their audiences and how those factors drive business outcomes. This helps them personalise effectively for specific groups – even if the group might be small, if they are high value, they deserve their own special attention.

Take online retailer JD Williams – which was finding its optimisation-only platform wasn’t allowing the brand to build long-term customer engagement and conversion at the same pace. We helped them improve their ecommerce results by creating a dynamic personalised experience for mobile and tablet customers, targeting segments of their audiences at scale – which provided an 18% uplift in new visitor conversions within just two weeks. 

To achieve the best return on investment, brands should focus on turning more of their customers into their best customers. Instead of looking at the biggest groups of customers – where some brands trip up by personalising for the masses – understand individual or smaller groups of customers before creating an experience. This will allow marketers to find value in key small segments with exponentially more opportunity.

Think small

Personalisation is most successful when identifying customers’ unique preferences and needs based on their behaviour weighted with AI, taking a more considered approach to customer engagement, rather than using manual, bulk segmentation based on demographics. This is why brands need to adopt a “think small” approach where they get to know small segments of customers on a micro level first, before showing them content they may not be interested in – this will only push them away.

AI becomes a critical component in a brand’s ability to reach individual customers—especially those with distinct profiles that would make them difficult to serve with a generalised rule, but who contribute disproportionately high value to the business.

In most cases, trying to market to those customers through precise segmentation is simply more work than it is worth in returns. However, the tailored, one-to-one experiences that AI delivers can enable a brand to serve large groups like first-time visitors and traffic streams from dominant referral channels without ignoring the need to cultivate strong individual relationships with smaller groups.

Small but contextually relevant insights help marketers perform smarter and better – this thinking can have a huge impact on ROI and marketers are now able to apply micro insights – such as analysing clicks and engagements to optimise content and product recommendations, as well as inform long term strategic direction – due to the technology and data points available.

Layered with AI, these techniques will help retailers take the customer experience to the next level, and provide an advantage against any competitor who is not keeping up with changing consumer behaviours. By understanding customers before creating experiences for them, retailers will be able to turn more of their customers into their best customers for long term loyalty.

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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