Over 60% of companies use some form of personalised marketing and most report improved results from doing so. Some experts believe that with so much marketing being targeted at consumers today, individuals are actually craving personalised messages – because it gives them a better sense of control and reduces feelings of being overwhelmed by irrelevant information.
There’s no doubt that personalisation is growing increasingly sophisticated, making use of in-depth customer data, analytics and profiling, combined with large doses of automation. Here are five examples of innovative personalisation techniques that are delivering results today:
- Personalised web experiences
The goal of delivering a personalised web experience to people who visit your website is to encourage them to linger on your site for longer, engage with the content and ultimately make more purchases. Using dynamic website personalisation (DWP) techniques it is possible to customise the content, messaging and offers shown to individual visitors in real-time, based on their current and past behaviours – their browsing histories, past purchases, and social networking cues such as ‘Likes’ and ‘Favourites’.
Sites such as Amazon and Netflix are masters of this kind of website personalisation in the way that they customise the content of the homepage to provide a completely individualised experience, populating it with the products and services most likely to interest each customer. At the heart of this process are powerful recommendation algorithms designed to identify those products that will appeal to an individual by examining his or her past behaviour, purchases and demographics.
- Using white space on bills and statements
Today, with most people finding themselves inundated with marketing and sales messages at every turn, even expertly targeted, highly personalised offers can be overlooked amid all the other marketing ‘chatter’. That is why many marketers are looking more closely at transpromotional communications or ‘transpromo’. This involves adding personalised messages to the white space on transactional documents such as customer bills and statements (whether they are online or on paper). Of all the content they receive from companies, most people will at least cast their eyes across these documents so the chances are, if you use transpromo, your messages will be seen.
Rather than always peppering your transpromo with simple cross-sell or up-sell product sales pitches, however, it is probably a good idea to include a mix of personalised information and advice. An electricity company might display charts highlighting a household’s daily power consumption patterns or insert a link or QR code to an energy saving guide, as well as competitions, discounts and other offers based on each customer’s particular circumstances. That way you can exploit the potential of transpromo as a tool for more subtle relationship and brand building as well as for the more direct ‘hard sell’.
- Event based personalisation
Event based personalisation consists of using personalised communications – emails, letters, text messages, and so on – to strengthen the customer relationship at key points or events in the customer journey. The trigger events will vary between industries and companies, but marketers and customer service departments essentially need to answer the question: which events or actions would lead to a customer wanting or benefitting from communication with us? Examples of event based communications could include dispatching a thank you or welcome pack when a customer places an order or signs up for a service; sending a specific offer to a web visitor who has spent a period of time visiting certain product pages or has abandoned a shopping cart; texting a notification to a customer who is close to an agreed credit limit; or issuing a ‘re-engagement’ email or letter to a customer who has not placed an order for a while.
The good news for marketers is that specialist customer communications management software can work with your CRM and other business applications to handle the complex processes involved. For example, the generation of personalised documents, and delivery to the customer’s preferred communications channels (such as email, website, apps and SMS), can be automatically triggered by business rules.
- Custom and Lookalike audiences on social media
The growth of social media provides a wealth of information that can be used to personalise your approach to consumers. Take Facebook Custom Audiences, which lets you show personalised ads and marketing offers to Facebook users who have already engaged with you through other channels such as email or phone. You can upload customer databases, emails, phone numbers or names of people who have responded to your website offers or ads, and Facebook will identify matches amongst its users. You can then target these people with specific adverts on Facebook (and now also Facebook-owned Instagram) based on information such as their demographics, location and expressed interests, to create incredibly focused campaigns. The approach can also be extended to people who may not have come across your brand (but might be a good fit) using Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences feature. This analyses the Custom Audiences data you have already uploaded in order to identify a list of people who have very similar demographics and profile data, allowing you to personalise your social media ads to potential as well as existing customers.
- Cross-device tracking and targeting
We live in a multi-device world, with consumers using their smartphones, tablets and PCs at different parts of the customer journey. More than 60% of people use two devices every day – with 20% of Britons using three. Identifying and linking the interactions that happen across the various devices creates a holistic picture of the customer and enables you to show them more highly individualised offers, content and advertising. With the help of this kind of cross-device tracking, a retail website could, for example, show you web content on your laptop that is related to the pages you browsed when you visited the site on your mobile phone earlier in the day.
Due to the complexity involved this is an area that is still in its infancy. However, there are currently two main models being used. The first is the deterministic approach, championed by the likes of Google and Facebook. It relies on users being logged in (on Facebook or Google, for example) on multiple devices in order to allow their activity to be tracked as they switch between smartphone, PC and laptop. The second is the probabilistic model, which collects a variety of non-permanent, user-resettable data points such as device type, operating system, IP address, WiFi network, cookies, and so on, and then uses big data applications and machine learning to algorithmically match a person or household across devices.
Research suggests that 73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant. With so much data available to profile and understand individuals’ preferences, along with technology to automate and manage many aspects of customer communications, there is a great opportunity to seize the initiative, personalise the customer experience and stand out from the crowd.