Personalised marketing… sounds a little creepy, right? As the tentacles of big data intertwine ever more with our every online move, it’s no wonder many of us flinch hearing the terms ‘personalised’ and ‘marketing’ in the same breath. But, as with so many things in life, it’s all about the approach you take.
The state of personalised marketing
The undeniable fact is this: rather than impersonal encounters, customers want bespoke experiences designed to fit their needs and lifestyles – a considerable 67% say it’s crucial for businesses to harness current context, pivot fast, and adapt content to deliver a truly personalised experience.
Moreover, while back in 2018 47% termed themselves ‘very concerned’ about the use of personal data, this dropped to 24% in 2020. In terms of your marketing strategy, this shift cannot be ignored.
But then… what about privacy? If a brand’s caught in a scandal or its unethical behaviour is exposed, 45% would never trust it again – that’s pretty devastating when it comes to that all-important brand-customer bond.
In short, how do you use customers’ information for good? How do you speak to them like people without falling back on intrusive tactics? Here are 6 tips.
1. Put the customer in the driving seat
From Zoom to Facebook, some of the biggest names have fallen afoul of dubious privacy practices. As we know, trust is fundamental to any lasting relationship, so if customers suspect even a smidgen of dodgy dealings, your credibility could plummet.
In addition to adhering to GDPR, we recommend putting in place a data management policy that is crystal clear and easy for customers to understand. Brands such as Apple and Dell have widely publicised their commitment to transparent data collection and management, so people can enjoy jargon-free breakdowns of how their personal information is used – ones that put them in the driving seat.
Giving customers the power to assess your methods and select the content they receive from you only boosts your position as a brand that’s worthy of their time, money, and trust. Win-win.
2. Start small
From direct mail to email marketing, there are simple ways to add personal touches to your communications.
For example, in all sound email marketing systems, you’ll have the ability to include personalisation strings, such as salutations containing the name of an individual or company. Small gesture it may be, but an email with a personalised subject line is 26% more likely to be opened.
There’s a catch, though. To press ahead with even the most straightforward personalised marketing, your data needs to be immaculate.
Data has a shelf-life – what was relevant to a customer in February 2020 was vastly different in March 2020, as the pandemic’s effects began to set in. People undergo various changes throughout their lives, from moving house to switching surnames. Most vitally, old data isn’t advisable for GDPR.
Before you get started with personalised marketing, get all your data ducks in a row. When you import data to your marketing contact lists, scrutinise every field for errors: keep first names separate from last names (and in the right order), ensure they’re correctly capitalised, check postcodes are accurate and create new fields when necessary.
Always have a default in place for when names aren’t available – we use ‘Hello there’ when ‘Hello Dave’ isn’t an option.
Getting basic customer details wrong is worse than using none at all, so if your house isn’t in order, it’s best to hold off on personalised marketing until it is.
3. Go beyond token personalisation
Yes, using tools such as dynamic content – altering anything from intros to imagery in landing pages and emails to fit the reader profile – is valuable, and something today’s customer expects.
This kind of personalised marketing is founded on demonstrating that you recognise who you’re talking to – man or woman, millennial or Gen X, income bracket, and more. But appearances aren’t everything.
Let’s not forget: for 84% of customers, being treated like a human rather than a number is critical to winning them over. This involves going above and beyond their basic identity info and delving deeper into their needs, pain points, and ambitions. A great product or service alone won’t cut it – especially given that the top reason people change brands is feeling unappreciated.
Once you’ve encouraged customers to sign up to a solid data collection policy, try to get beneath the skin of the information they hand over. If you’re working with a well-designed CRM system, you should be able to draw out pithy insights such as…
At what point in the buying journey do they drop off the map?
What areas of the business are attracting the most interest, and at what time?
What’s a female, dog-owning millennial most likely to be drawn to compared with a male, dogless millennial?
You can then weave these insights into targeted rewards and content – from ultra-segmented automated email workflows and social media campaigns to useful blog posts – while shaping a user journey that is slicker and more enjoyable. Which leads us on to…
4. Factor in feedback
Data drawn from your CRM system is excellent, but there’s nothing like first-hand accounts straight from the source. How are you meant to create a friction-free, fit-for-purpose journey if you don’t get acquainted with your customers’ direct experiences of it?
Simple as it may be to request, customer feedback is arguably the greatest data gold mine – one that brands don’t take advantage of enough. It provides you with a rich seam of insights willingly provided by your existing audience. Gathering these puts you one step ahead, enabling you to tailor your journey and save time trying to anticipate issues in advance.
Build a robust feedback system into your strategy, asking customers about their specific pain points, preferences, and ambitions at any appropriate point. Try linking to a well-designed survey in your email marketing or running reward-based feedback campaigns, incentivising people to share their thoughts with offers based on their interests.
Likewise, social listening and automated chatbots can help you gather real-time feedback rooted in current context, enabling you to adapt rapidly, remain abreast of developing problems, and offer timely answers to specific issues.
5. Constantly assess your customer journey
Businesses that deliver an excellent customer journey win 5.7x more revenue than competitors with a sub-par CX, and insightful, personalised marketing is synonymous with a standout user experience – one that carries the client from initial interest to a solid commitment and beyond.
The most successful brands utilise real-time data to evaluate and adjust their CX on an ongoing basis, remedying bottlenecks and spotting (then filling) gaps in customer satisfaction at a moment’s notice.
Where possible, try automating elements of the journey to meet demand, so no matter the time or place, parties can access an assistant – human or bot. This helps you streamline processes and meet customers’ needs in real-time – what could be more personal than that?
Likewise, it’s good to approach your customer journey with specific and achievable goals in mind – swathes of data can quickly feel overwhelming. This could range from improving your ability to forecast demand to ensuring your delivery system runs efficiently and on-time.
6. Create characters
As with any relationship, the more you learn about a person over time, the deeper the connection becomes. It pays to memorise your clients’ quirks, too: attracting a new one can be 5x pricier than retaining an existing devotee.
To deliver genuinely personalised marketing, you need to funnel customer information and metrics into specific character profiles. Look at the data from your CRM system as providing a birds-eye view of your whole community of customers; you can then use this to hone in on and craft distinct personas based on interests, behaviour patterns, objectives, and more.
It’s critical to look at prospects outside of your organisation and examine exactly what they want, too. Consider investing in some solid market research – there’s a load of useful stuff already out there, or you could commission your own.
The results can be completely staggering, producing something you’d never see looking at your existing data. You can then apply any insights gained to connect more powerfully with new audience segments or better attract current target personas.
Using data from your CRM system and market research, you can build a human story around each persona, from name to career, and shape targeted communications that speak almost directly to the individual – all while delivering highly competitive customer service.
You could mark anything from a person’s 10th anniversary as your customer to a time when they showed a palpable interest in a particular product or service, tying this in with relevant launches or news. It’s personal touches like these that we humans remember.
Personalised marketing for a better CX
We hope this piece gives personalised marketing a better name. The reality is that to be brilliant, today’s customer experience needs to be personal; by personal, we simply mean relevant and satisfying – nothing nefarious here.