How to use personalisation to improve the customer experience

Personalisation continues to crop up as a key trend for brands, year on year. But, how many marketers are actually putting personalisation into practice? Personalisation has still got a long way to go and very few brands are taking personalisation beyond a ‘first name, last name’ approach. People expect a real-time, personalised experience and companies such as Amazon are constantly raising the bar for what is expected, especially with the recent launch of Amazon Dash.

We live in a digital age where businesses and consumers alike are ‘always on’. While the ‘Mad Men’ mass advertising model still has its place, this too is evolving with companies and people increasingly looking for a personalised experience tailored to their likes and dislikes, where they are and what device they’re using at that moment in time. The challenge is targeting audiences that are becoming increasingly indifferent about the messages that are entering their inboxes. Marketers need to ensure they’re standing from other competitors and cutting through the noise.

Personalisation is important for engagement, yet many brands are failing to implement a tailor-made approach with their marketing strategy. Emails with personalisation, for example, get opened 23% more than emails with none and those emails with multiple pieces of personalisation get opened 31% more than those with one.

Sticking with email, the amount of emails entering inboxes is increasing. Email continues to thrive as a marketing channel and a recent report revealed 28% YOY growth for email. Personalisation is becoming increasingly important for brands to engage consumers at every step of the journey. Personalisation can come in many forms: from simply addressing the recipient by first name, to imagery, content and even bespoke videos. Emails containing at least one piece of personalisation drives an increase in engagement but there is much more that can be done. It’s time for brands to wake up and realise that personalisation goes beyond just a name.

Real-time personalisation

Simply using a first name approach is no longer enough to engage your target audience. Within personalisation, we’re seeing a greater emphasis on the need for real-time marketing. For personalisation to be successful, the customer must be at the centre of everything. Brands must understand recipient’s needs, location and daily habits so that marketing content can be of use to them at various moments during the day, week and month.

When a recipient receives marketing that is relevant at that moment in time, it is going to be more engaging than content that isn’t tailored or has failed to take into account any of their past behaviour. Get it right and the opportunity for personalisation is massive.

A single customer view – the holy grail

Brands must focus on creating stories that link to the whole customer experience, not just one marketing channel. The birth of the digital age promised a revolution in the way that brands engaged with their customers, but it has in fact made marketing more complex than ever. The problem with the explosion of data and devices is that it tends to complicate, rather than clarify, the issue of which customers should be targeted and how they should be engaged.

The existence of a single customer view is really important to succeed in cutting through the marketing noise and targeting customers effectively. However, this approach is often more talked about than successfully implemented. Some brands have suggested that creating a workable single view of every customer is impossible. However, some marketers are efficiently working towards a robust strategy. Creating a single customer view is fundamental for delivering tailored and relevant experiences.

The purchase funnel is now more multi-faceted than ever, with brands having to consider multiple channels and touch points when developing their customer experiences. To generate a successful single customer view, a unique identifier is vital. A customer’s email address is a perfect example of this. The email address is naturally a good unique identifier for a number of reasons, but mainly because every customer will know their email address and will usually be willing to provide it, if there is enough value for subscribers.

Driving forward with data

Data is the essence of delivering a personalised customer experience and the holy grail of the single customer view for brands. To deliver results from data, marketers need to input a robust strategy and the right technology to link, manage and structure data. 42% of email marketers stated that data was their biggest challenge to personalisation, according to the DMA, so it’s really important to get your strategy right.

The brands that are already breaking down barriers and working collaboratively to unite their internal teams and data sources, will win the most valuable prize of all: real, relevant and meaningful relationships with their customers.