Decluttering the marketing channels with personalization

Aug 26, 2014 1:35 PM  By

With consumers dictating how, when and where they engage with retailers, marketers have less control over brand communication than ever before, making personalization key to delivering the most effective customer experiences at every touch point. Amazon has been a leader in personalization for years, but now brick-and-mortar retailers like Wal-Mart are getting in on the game.

While 94% understand the importance of personalization, many don’t know how to do it, with 95% sitting on untapped data. This data is the key to turning a mediocre campaign into a wildly successful one.

So why is everyone talking about personalization in the first place?

For starters, it helps improve return on investment. It’s no surprise that personalized online and digital experiences get better results. In fact, one study found that personalized website experiences resulted in an average 19% increase in sales. For email, personalization is even more powerful, generating transaction rates and revenue six times higher per email than non-personalized emails. Yet, a different study found that 70 percent of brands don’t take advantage of email personalization. Knowing these numbers, why aren’t marketers using this information to their advantage?

In addition, there’s more competition than you might think. Competition for consumers’ attention and time online goes beyond other retailers. Retailers are competing with news sites, cat memes, BuzzFeed quizzes to social media networks. With personalization, marketers can break through this clutter and increase the impact of each interaction, creating a deeper bond with their brand.

Finally, at this point, customers almost expect a personalized experience every time they interact with a brand. Sixty-four percent of consumers said it’s important to receive relevant offers when shopping online and almost one-third want more personalization during their online shopping experiences. And even though some consumers express privacy concerns, 69%  are willing to share preferences in order to receive recommendations.

For retailers to stand out, marketers need to employ new strategies. Here are some worth considering.

Omnichannel retailing: True omnichannel allows customers to tailor their own experiences and path. For example, making the mobile experience as easy as the website. Enabling customers to order online and return in store. Extending online experiences in-store, such as displaying top Pinterest pins to guide shoppers toward what’s trending.

Real-time, 24/7 marketing: It’s critical to be responsive to customers whenever and wherever it’s convenient for them. Marketing automation technology can help marketers respond appropriately, aid cross-selling, and serve up in-session personalized offers across channels, no matter the time.

Map and design the customer journey: Mapping out the customer journey can help marketers identify and fix gaps and inconsistencies in a customer’s experience and eliminate barriers to purchase. For example, some e-retailers implement “shortcuts” like one-click purchasing, social sign-in, online refills, mobile shopping apps, and more.

Geographic targeting: Geolocation data allows marketers to personalize the mobile and online customer experience with location, language and culture-specific content and offers, making offers more compelling and memorable.

Content marketing:  By offering thought leadership, do-it-yourself or other content that’s relevant to specific customer personas, marketers can create a robust self-help resource for shoppers any time they need it, drawing them to a brand’s website, app and more.

So what does this look like in action?

Take one of the most preferred and trusted financial institutions serving the military and their families, for instance. The company’s agents needed a system to help them to better understand members and be more proactive in suggesting relevant offerings. By implementing a cross-servicing program that enables agents to match products and services to customer needs in real-time, the company has seen a 10% revenue increase in their lending portfolio, substantial growth in profitability per customer base and expansive growth into new channels.

Another example – a retailer with a focus on relaxation and enjoying life – wanted to deliver marketing content that speaks to the needs and interests of individual customers at the moment of each interaction. To do this, they turned to marketing management technology that combines historical, personal, and contextual information, as well as real-time analytics to help customer-facing channels present the most attractive offers. Since deployment, they have been able to increase sales, make refined decisions about which segments of the database should be tapped with which messages, better identify and reach customers across multiple channels and formats, and create clarity in the decision-making process.

To compete today, retailers have to invest in technology that enables them to create an exceptional customer experience at every touch point. With online sales continuing to grow at a rapid pace, the time is now for marketers to revamp their personalization strategies across all channels.

Grant Halloran is the global vice president and general manager for Infor Integrated Marketing Management Group