5 Best Practices for Streamlining Your Personalization

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Friday, October 9, 2020

Companies like Amazon and Netflix have set the bar high by creating sophisticated systems for personalized recommendations, building customer expectations that now extend to all businesses.

Article 4 Minutes

The case for personalization is clear - 91% of consumers say they’re more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations, and they’re willing to pay more for a great experience.

Marketers too seem convinced of the benefits, with 89% of digital businesses investing in personalization, as well as 79% of retailers. But personalization is a game with many parts: strategy, data, content and technology. Which means implementing a personalization program can seem daunting due to the cost and time involved.

Are you looking to streamline your personalization efforts – or to start off on the right foot? Here are five best practices to consider.

1. Define your desired outcome

A strategy is only as good as its goals. These may include specific actions you want a site visitor to take, but it should start with your company objectives. In practice, this means combining goals like signups for a demo with more long-term KPIs, such as customer lifetime value.

Review your audience segmentation and personas. Do they cover the most common contexts and align with insights from historical data? For international audiences, consider localized personas to pinpoint cultural differences across markets.

Even though personalization is a priority for many, 52% of companies don’t have a robust strategy and roadmap in place. This means there is still significant room for brands to innovate.

2. Map the customer journey

Personalization needs a lot of content to work well. Map out your customer journey to visualize how customers move from ‘need’ to ‘research’, ‘decision’ and ‘post-sales’, then plan out all the content pieces you need. Having the right map in place will help you avoid wasting effort. It will also strengthen your brand presence through a more focused approach.

As well as the customer journey stages, consider the channels you’re planning to use. While it’s best to focus on a few channels, people have an average of 6.5 connected devices, therefore omnichannel is a real part of modern marketing.

Global marketing leaders state that speed, budget and automation are the main barriers to producing and delivering more personalized content. This makes planning and mapping all the more important.

3. Capture data and insights

Personalization relies on access to customer data, but privacy concerns are growing and legal compliance is only the start. Invest care and attention to make sure that personalized content is engaging, rather than off-putting.

83% of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more personalized experience. However, a similar number are concerned about companies knowing too much about them. The key is presenting the benefits for them clearly.

This might include personalized discounts, product recommendations or customer support, and avoiding intrusive campaigns that make customers feel like they’re being tracked.

Unsolicited communications and location-based tracking feel 'creepy' for many consumers. But as you might expect, opinions vary depending on your audience group. For example, push notifications are significantly less disliked by Generation Z than other age groups.

Data security views also differ across the world. For example, 82% of Brazilians are concerned about how companies use their data, yet in Japan, it’s only 40%. Clear segmentation and targeting is important for putting your audience’s minds at ease.

4. Testing

By definition, personalization is specific to the customer and brand. This means it’s hard to get it right the first time. With customer preferences changing constantly, marketers have to adapt to keep up.

How can you know if your approach is succeeding? Only 51% of leaders said that testing and measuring the impact of personalization programs is a major priority for their business. Yet, a lack of testing could mean you don’t identify opportunities for improvement.

Is one area of your customer journey weaker than others? Are you failing to meet goals for a particular transaction or are visitors consistently dropping off at a certain point? This is your chance to dig deeper and make changes.

5. Listen to your customers

Personalized communications are less like marketing and more like a digital dialogue. Speaking without listening would be rude, so data is the way you can listen to your customers.

Giving customers some control over the channels you’ll contact them on – and the frequency – gives a strong message of trust. This can go some way to mitigating personalization tactics they find ‘creepy’. SmarterHQ’s Privacy & Personalization research report found that 51% of respondents preferred email contact while mobile push notifications and phone calls were the least popular channels

Final thoughts

Data-driven decision making and artificial intelligence are creating a widening divide. It separates businesses that have the necessary data infrastructure from those who don’t.

Omnichannel personalization can’t work without a ‘single customer view’. In other words, there must be a single customer profile with consolidated data. Less than 40% of marketers use even the most basic targeting criteria for personalization - think purchase history, browsing history, referral source or clickstream data.

This shows the advantage available to companies that adopt large-scale personalization. They're best-placed to attract, engage and retain their customers over the competition.

Personalization isn’t a one-off project - it’s a fundamental change of approach, but one that’s been proven to pay off.

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Sitecore

Sitecore is a global leader in digital experience management software that combines content management, commerce, and customer insights. The Sitecore Experience Cloud™ empowers marketers to deliver personalized content in real time and at scale across every channel—before, during, and after a sale. More than 5,200 brands—including American Express, Carnival Cruise Lines, Kimberly-Clark, and L’OrĂ©al—have trusted Sitecore to deliver the personalized interactions that delight audiences, build loyalty, and drive revenue. 

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