Relevant content. Preferred channels. Personalized messaging. These “ingredients” empower marketers to create effective, personalized customer experiences. The foundation for all three? Operationalized consumer data, which is only a few clicks away in the BlastPoint Customer Intelligence Platform.
The era of personalized customer experiences is here, which marketing experts have been predicting for a few years now. As the Covid-19 pandemic drives more and more consumers toward digital engagement, personalization has become a “basic expectation” for consumers, according to the Forbes article “Personalize or Perish.” This means that the average consumer “expects brands to remember them—their preferences, their history, their location, their sentiments—on every channel, at any given time.”
Personalization: An Opportunity and a Challenge
Consumer expectations for personalization can be a great opportunity for marketing and CX teams. Specifically, personalization gives companies the opportunity to connect with consumers on a very human level, and to do so with creativity and empathy. However, these expectations can also be very overwhelming, especially given the more limited operating budgets of the Covid-19 era. It can be especially difficult for companies to know how to scale personalization efforts.
Furthermore, consumer research reveals a gap in what marketing teams and consumers consider personalized experiences. According to Twilio Segment’s State of Personalization 2021 Report, while 85% of the businesses think they are providing at least somewhat personalized experiences for customers, only 60% of customers agree. This indicates that many attempts at personalization are failing to get the desired results. Airship.com, a company specializing in personalization, cites superficiality, too much re-targeting, and irrelevant content as major reasons for failure.
Something these missteps have in common? They are based on incomplete or outdated data.
Operationalized Data is the Foundation of Effective Personalization
Experts agree that personalization is built on data – specifically, on these types of consumer data: 1) internal data that tells you how customers have engaged with past campaigns, programs, and products, 2) third-party data that tells you who consumers are and how they have behaved.
Your company definitely has the first type of data. Probably a lot of it, in fact. You may also have access to the second type through subscriptions to data services. However, more important than having the data is knowing how to use it as a solid foundation for effective personalization.
Your database tells a story about each consumer. Finding patterns in the data and using those patterns to guide personalization allows marketers to tap into those stories. BlastPoint makes this process simple by accepting data as-is, cleaning it, integrating it, and analyzing it with our proprietary algorithms. Our Customer Intelligence Platform gives business users easy access to their data and provides the capability to build specialized customer segments for every campaign. The segments adapt as your data changes, helping to close the gap between perceived and actual personalization.
Customer Intelligence Provides Three Essential Ingredients for Effective Personalization
With customer intelligence in hand, marketing and CX teams have access to the three essential ingredients for effective personalization.
Attempts at personalization miss the mark when they provide irrelevant content to consumers. Every time a consumer receives communications about programs, services, and products they don’t want, companies make profitable engagement less likely.
On the flip side, every time a consumer receives content that resonates with them, your company is sending the message that you are paying attention. This makes customers much more likely to act in ways that benefit your company, such as signing up for programs and buying products.
Note that relevant content goes deeper than putting customers’ first names in the subject line of an email. However, it doesn’t have to be done manually. BlastPoint’s platform makes it easy to create up-to-date segments that reflect every customer’s most recent data, meaning that you can target customers with relevant offerings and information at scale.
One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to communication channels. Most customers have a preferred channel, and if you know what it is and use that channel consistently, customers will engage more and show more satisfaction with your brand. That’s because channel preferences reflect consumer lifestyle characteristics and choices – age, income, career, housing type, whether they have children, etc. When you communicate using a preferred channel, it reduces friction between your customers and engagement.
However, without updated, specific channel data, it’s disturbingly easy to make wrong assumptions about preferences. Here are some common mistakes we’ve seen:
- Assuming that age determines channel preferences: Companies sometimes make the assumption that all “younger” contacts will respond more to digital communication, while “older” contacts want to receive calls or snail mail. While this may prove broadly true for the US population, we’ve found that specific regional footprints tell different stories. In particular, we’ve noticed that education levels can be an important predictor of whether someone will open their mail. And we’ve also seen the pattern that younger people are less likely to open emails (more on that below).
- Assuming that all digital channels belong in the same segment: As mentioned above, we’ve seen that many customers who are not likely to engage with emails are more highly likely to engage with SMS or social media content. We’ve also seen a correlation between a preference for snail mail and a higher likelihood of actually opening and engaging with emails: because these customers are less digitally active, they get less spam and are more likely to engage with every email in their inbox.
Messaging that resonates is the piece de resistance of personalization. This can be the most difficult aspect to get right. It can also be the most challenging to scale. But luckily, customer intelligence helps you understand what messaging resonates with the specific customers you want to engage.
Data indicating customers’ lifestyle choices – such as the cars they buy, the homes they live in, the causes they donate to – also indicates the type of messaging that will most get their attention. These trends are highly variable across geographic locations in the US, however. For example, looking at Houston, Texas data, there are many people who own pickup trucks and who also have donated to liberal political causes, while in other areas of the US, that data looks very different.
This is why it’s important not to base personalized messaging on assumptions or stereotypes, but to actually access behavioral data that indicates the lifestyle choices your target consumers are making. With updated data in hand, you’ll know how to tap into your customers’ stories and create messaging that feels authentic.
Relevant content, preferred channels, and personalized messaging are the key ingredients for effective personalization, and they are all accessible via BlastPoint’s Customer Intelligence Platform so your company can create effective personalized experiences at scale. Get in touch to find out more.