Today’s shoppers are busy, cost-conscious multitaskers. If your brand can deliver a short, rewarding, and successful shopping experience through personalized interactions, it will win their attention.
Consider Stitch Fix’s style profiles created from zero-party (0P) data, for example, or the New York Times’ use of first-party (1P) data to promote relevant stories to readers. Tesla can personalize everything from seat positions to suspension settings to improve the driver experience. In its Nike By You collection, Nike offers customizable shoes with preference-based recommendations for shoppers.
Hyper-personalized customer experiences (CX) are nothing new. They have been used for generations in the brick-and-mortar world; retail clerks and associates are taught to watch for opportunities to help customers while browsing. For instance, instead of letting a buyer wander around the store for more than 10 minutes, an employee might step in to offer assistance. This touchpoint provides just the right level of CX personalization; it conveys the message: I value that you came to our location, and I want to help you find exactly what you need.
Of course, personalization in the digital realm presents itself a bit differently. Nevertheless, it can have the same positive outcomes if handled well. Consider a visitor wandering around an e-commerce site and moving from item to item. If the business can figure out how to identify and respond to that type of signal in a personalized way, it will create loyal customers. Even better if it can establish a seamless experience across all channels, creating authentic moments of connection with customers.
High Customer Experience Expectations Are Driving Personalization Trends
If you haven’t focused on personalization yet, you can be sure your competitors have. They’re in tune with recent findings:
71% of consumers expect some level of personalization from brands, and 76% are frustrated when that doesn’t happen.McKinsey & Company
They’re applying all the technology at their fingertips to ensure their shoppers move effortlessly through the marketing funnel, from curious browsers to raving fans.
Keep these personalization techniques and tips in mind to help you stand out with consumers for the right reasons. You can leverage them to inform your searches, content descriptions, design layouts, and more so you can build stronger connections with the people who show interest in your products.
1. Keep Personalization Contextual and Temporally Appropriate
Sending push notifications at all can be really disruptive to a customer, but no customer wants to receive push notifications that might have been pertinent to their last visit but have zero applicability to what they are trying to achieve now. Focus your personalized exchanges on meeting the customer where they’re at in the moment.
This can be difficult, and historical data might not always be the most helpful. However, many brands have found it useful to determine customer intent and needs by integrating data across owned channels or using minimal directional questions or zero-party data to meet the user where they currently are.
AI can take much of the guesswork out of this process. When used right, AI solutions can make personalized consumer predictions based on a wealth of data, including known trends based on the journeys of other shoppers.
Unsurprisingly, Amazon does this well, using AI technology to predict which product a customer will likely buy during their next visit and recommend it to them when they log in or visit the site again. The company does this by analyzing products and product pages the customer previously looked at, bought, rated, or reviewed. It’s even learning across channels to make these kinds of predictions. The downside, however, is that Amazon’s site is saturated with products, making it difficult for shoppers to find the items worth buying.
2. Just Because You Can, Does Not Mean You Should
We have all had the eerie and annoying experience of low-value personalization from a brand. It can be off-putting when you see your name in an email from a brand you didn’t sign up for or when digital interactions, such as retargeted ads, miss the mark or feel invasive.
There are up to 24 million global e-commerce stores, and 86% of consumers will leave a brand they were loyal to after just two or three unpleasant experiences.Emplifi
So, make sure your personalization isn’t giving off creepy vibes.
To improve the responsiveness — and success — of your personalization, build experiences that are great for every customer (not just a few). You can’t just randomly insert someone’s name or location onto a product page anymore and think you’ve mastered personalization.
Take your personalization efforts more seriously and continuously revisit them to make tweaks and updates. Personalization that worked in the past might not create the same positive buzz today. Rather than losing revenue, aim to keep your personalization strategy current. For example, you could create simplified checkout experiences where you already have some information about users filled out from previous sessions or sign-ups, making the checkout process simpler and quicker. You could also implement product recommendations based on first-party data, offer optimized promotions, showcase more relevant imagery, etc.
3. Strive For A Seamless CX Throughout Your Sales Funnel
Oddly placed bolt-on personalization widgets and jarring transitions can make the customer journey feel generic, automated, uninspired, and even bizarre. Don’t forget that shoppers are pulled in many directions. They don’t have the time or patience for anything but a smooth interplay between them and your brand.
An excellent place to begin ironing out the overall CX is to investigate all the shifts between your channels. What does it feel like for a shopper who goes from your e-commerce store to your app to your social media page? Is there a sense of continuity and consistency? If so, you are on your way to higher customer satisfaction — and probably higher sales, too.
Be sure to check all your customer flows using a variety of devices. Even a single clunky interface can be the friction point that sends a prospective buyer fleeing from your sales funnel.
4. Concentrate On Delivering Nothing Short Of Pure Delight
When was the last time you had a personalized digital CX that you could genuinely call delightful? I’m talking about an interaction that made you want to leave a five-star review for the brand or tell all your peers about it.
There’s a good reason you can probably come up with only a few brand encounters: Delightful CX is hard to come by. If you can provide it to your shoppers, you’ll automatically be in the lead in their minds over other brands because they’ll feel like you get them.
A solid method to offer personalized delight is to send customized offers based on their purchase or wish list history. A well-deployed take 10% off these products today can create momentum and goodwill, particularly if the shopper has visited those products recently, abandoned them in their carts, or liked them for a future purchase.
Personalization has always been an essential ingredient in the customer-brand relationship. Though it might present itself uniquely in the digital world, it is just as relevant to and expected by modern buyers as it was for shoppers a century ago. Show your customers that you want to connect with them personally, and they’ll keep coming back.