Retailers know all too well that “Personalization” is mandatory for winning customers and forging life-long loyalty. But what many don’t realize is that their efforts aren’t always having the desired effect with consumers. The techniques retailers once used to broadcast their brand to a wide audience are no longer relevant.
Shoppers are on-the-go and often time-challenged. With the number and variety of products online, they truly value when a retailer shows its familiarity with their individual personal preferences, current interests and purchase history to present them with products they are mostly likely to be interested in and want to purchase.
Still the facts paint a different picture. 83% of retail marketers think they do a satisfactory job in personalizing experiences for consumers, according to research from Adobe. The same survey indicates that only 29% of consumers feel retailers effectively offer them personalized content or offers.
So what does it take to make personalization count?
- Put the “Person” first in personalization – 94% of businesses say personalization is critical to their engagement efforts, but only 25% of companies are using their data ‘to a great extent’ to do it effectively, according to a poll from Accenture. In the effort to target the masses, retailers forget to understand the context needed to create a truly engaging personalized experience. It is essential for them to understand that in order to be successful , they need to connect with customer at a personal level.
- Understand the journey all the way– It is now imperative that retailers show they recognize and understand consumers at each stage of the buying process. Analyzing the signals that a consumer shares through past purchases, both online and in person like the items they added to their cart, conversations held with customer service, special offers redeemed, store visits or branded app interactions can provide all the information required about customers without even asking them
- Be relevant to be desirable – Acknowledging that while personalized offers of discounts are probably more effective than generic ones, it is also true that customers still expect more than overt pitches to grab at their wallets. They want something meaningful and truly helpful. Meaningful relevance emerges when content meets context. It’s a powerful alliance, for sure, and one that signals to the customer that you’re right there with her, in step and in the know.
- Be agile and up to speed – Speed matters. Shoppers will be most responsive to real time offers when they are on the retail website, or at the physical store. Serving up relevant information or offers in a timely fashion matters to making the personalized experience count. Machine learning software, made easier by cloud-based development modules, can help retailers meet the speed requirement.
- Transparency is the key– There is a thin line between being “cool” and being “creepy”. Being personal doesn’t mean you need to invade the customers’ privacy and turn them off. It’s about providing enough value that they will trade it for their customer data. The best way is to be open and get their permission to interact. Maintain goodwill by keeping their personal information safe using robust security processes and controls.
The battle to win customers and customer loyalty has never been fiercer. In this hyper digital world, consumers want more than just deals and coupons and express delivery offers. They want retailers to listen to their unique needs and preferences, and deliver products that are relevant to them as individuals.
The bottom line is – whether its greeting customers as they enter your store, sending personalized emails, tailoring deals based on previous purchase behaviour or a “recommended products” section – personalization promotes customer loyalty. The real challenge is that it’s going to take consistent experience-creation and real-time relevance to not only grab customers but also keep them coming back to you again and again.
And we all know that loyalty is just as valuable (if not more) as attracting new customers.
Photo credits- marketo.com, miginsurance, stpsystems
-Ankita Asthana (Product Manager)
Ma Foi Analytics