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How Personal is Personal?

In a marketing world where Big Data is at our fingertips and new technologies constantly emerging to support hyper-personalisation, your customers expect an increasingly tailored experience, across a range of channels. Whilst some businesses are struggling to manage volume and draw actionable insight from the mass of data available, others are drawing on predictive solutions and other technologies to ease the load and harness big data to support their sales and marketing efforts.

With the volume and variety of tools on the market, you may be wondering where to start in your quest for a relevant and personalised customer experience, and where it will end. To help you consider what is achievable and, most importantly, what will deliver the best experience for your customers, we take a look at a range of approaches and varying degrees of personalisation.

Static Channels

Broad channels, such as billboards, TV, radio and newspaper advertising, need to appeal to a wide demographic and tend to focus mainly on customer acquisition. Whilst this approach is not tailored, the insight gleaned from response can help optimise the campaign and gather data for more personalised marketing later down the line.

With new digital technology, interactive billboards are much more eye catching and engaging, and include basic personalisation through smartphone apps. The degree of targeting, however, is limited as ads are seen by a very wide demographic.

Addressing Customer Identity

Once you have gathered some initial data – name, location, gender, demographic - about your customer, you can begin to speak to them as an individual. Email marketing and personalised literature can introduce the minimal amount of personalisation – addressing the customer by name. You can also serve relevant content to your audience here, for example using cookies to develop remarketing ads, based on the pages they have visited on your website. This basic level of personalisation helps you nurture early stage leads and start to build a relationship.

Segmentation

As you gain more insight into your prospect – industry sector, product type, or buying behaviour – you can segment them into compact, manageable groups in order to deliver a message that is more relevant to their potential interests, through tailored communications and content. This level of segmentation is still quite basic, but does provide a more engaging experience for your customer, and a more efficient communications strategy and improved ROI for you. Grouping your data in this way, and incorporating multiple sources – transactional, behavioural, second or third-party data - allows you to profile and prioritise the highest value segments within your overall strategy.

Email, social media, print and online materials can all be used to serve tailored content to your audience. Face to face communication or one-on-one conversations over the phone, however, are not only the most personal form of interaction, they enable you to build more detailed layers of insight to inform and improve segmentation across all channels.

Single Customer View

Whilst your customers are almost certainly aware of their status as a demographic in a target audience, they still want to feel valued as individuals. As your personalisation activity becomes more advanced, you will be able to move beyond segmentation into groups, to messages tailored to an individual identity, behaviour and circumstance, ideally supported by a full and complete view of your customer. In this context, real-time, on-going dialogue with your clients and prospects, either face to face or over the phone, provides a continuous feed of granular, actionable insight to support your personalisation. 

In addition, human contact increases the customer’s feeling that they are valued as an individual and builds the trust that is essential to successful and sustainable long-term business relationships.

Smart technologies such as real-time email communication and dynamic content are also absolutely crucial here. Real-time email marketing uses external triggers and real-time data such as time or weather to create highly targeted and timely content that is truly unique to the customer. Dynamic content also takes your campaign into the realms of ‘smart marketing’ by remembering your customers’ preferences and behaviours and saving them to be used to tailor future communications. This means that you can program your digital marketing to tailor itself to your customer’s online behaviour; images, content and calls to action all become suited to the user’s habits and behaviours.

Predictive Marketing

As any good marketer will know, marketing is a continuous dialogue that invites users back time and time again. The final stage of the personalisation spectrum is predictive, optimised marketing that takes the customer’s future needs into account. Using smart insights like past purchases and browsing behaviour, personalisation at this level enables you to anticipate customer needs and present pre-qualified offers, approaching prospects and customers at crucial points to discuss the next actions they are considering. Predictive technology also allows you to develop content and messaging that your high value prospects have been most receptive to in the past and deliver it at the right time through the most effective channels.

So, how Personal is Personal?

Ironically, in spite of technological advances and almost limitless potential for ‘personalisation’, the biggest challenge now faced by organisations is to make an emotional connection and humanise their brand in order to differentiate and cut through the mass of digital noise.

What is more, new GDPR regulations taking effect in May, will give control back to consumers resistant to the onslaught of impersonal, unsolicited mass communications, dramatically impacting how organisations collect, store and profile big data. In fact, this will provide marketers in both B2C and B2B, with an opportunity to re-engage with a smaller group of higher value customers in a genuine way that is more rewarding for both parties. Focus will shift towards smaller, better qualified data sets and more intimate relationships - based on mutual trust and understanding - with contacts who are already receptive to your message.

Whether B2B or B2C, this newly empowered breed of customer will not tolerate brands treating them as faceless individuals, actively shifting their business elsewhere, should the customer experience fall short. Irrespective of what the future holds, and whatever stage your marketing is at, the crucial point is that customers are real people and brands need to treat them as such. Nothing can create an emotional, lasting connection better than human interaction, making prospects and customers feel valued and positive about your brand. If you are looking to incorporate human interaction into your strategy, get in touch to discuss how you can add a personal touch to your campaign.

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