True personalization is more than just customizing a promotional email or newsletter with each customer’s first name; it’s about creating unique experiences for each and every customer. In today’s relentlessly competitive marketplaces, knowing what your customers want and promoting your products in the right way, with the right context and at the right time has never been more important.
Many businesses are beginning to understand what personalization is and how powerful the technology can be. The question, however, is why is it critical to your business?
It makes you more money
eCommerce managers and retail marketers who implement website personalization see a significant return-on-investment, by promoting products and offers that are meaningful and relevant to their customers. Recent research by Econsultancy found that businesses that use personalization technologies are seeing an average uplift of 19 percent in sales. In addition, 59 per cent of marketers reported that their personalization strategies are delivering a good return on their investment.
But the benefits don’t stop here.
With personalization, businesses are able to automate manual elements of their merchandising strategy, freeing up valuable time for teams to build stronger customer relationships that lead to long-term loyalty; increasing their customers’ lifetime value. All of this in turn, creates further opportunities for businesses to increase profits.
Take for example UK luxury jewellery retailer, Astley Clarke. With online sales rapidly growing, Astley Clarke had two pressing issues around their website that they needed to overcome: to emulate the in-store personal shopper experience online and to ensure product data was used effectively to target visitors based on their preferences.
Using personalization technology, Astley Clarke is applying business rules and algorithms to deliver a relevant online experience, wherever a visitor is in their user journey. By applying visitor preferences such as their favorite colors, gemstones and metals with customer behavior, Astley Clarke has experienced a 60% increase in site conversion rate, and 6% of the total online revenue is now generated via personalized product recommendations.
Your customers expect it
With so many different touch points for interactions, customers, now more than ever, expect smooth, consistent and relevant experiences across multiple channels — whether it’s via Web, mobile, in-store or the call center. To successfully meet expectations, businesses require a holistic view of the interactions they have with their customers — a central database of customer preferences and behavior to which they can build on their interactions.
According to SAS/Conlumino, 50 percent of customers would be more likely to use a retailer again if they were presented with offers and information that were relevant to their preferences. With such high statistics, providing personalized offers are no longer an option – it’s now a technology requirement to help meet and exceed customer expectations, while encouraging loyalty and longevity.
Personalization creates a more fluid brand experience. By presenting more relevant information to users, brands can create smoother, simpler experiences that guide customers through their products and information by remembering each customer’s interests and adapting to these interactions in real-time.
Your competitors are already doing it
The good news is: a massive 94 percent of businesses, as reported by Econsultancy, agree that personalization is considered critical to the future and current success. With this in mind, there’s a great chance that competitors have a personalization strategy in place. It is therefore key for marketers to keep pace and work from the same toolkit, rather than risk the chances of dissatisfied shoppers going to a competitor’s site, where the experience is more personalized, more enjoyable and most importantly – more relevant.
eCommerce managers and marketers are always trying to do more with less – overcoming lean budgets, IT and technology barriers to get ahead. With the need to differentiate their business’ offering through service, improving customer experience is high on the agenda. Those who aren’t yet using personalization shouldn’t resort to lower-impact methods that won’t help them achieve their goals. Instead, they need to build a true personalization strategy that meets their current and future needs to ensure they keep their customers happy and purchasing from their sites.
Not doing it is a risk
It is clear that businesses that don’t attempt to personalize their interactions aren’t just missing out on sales and revenue – they are at risk of losing customers for life. For example, in a survey by market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, one of the top reasons for U.S. email users to unsubscribe from a business or email subscription is “content that is no longer relevant.” Therefore, it is no surprise that more than 70% of marketers report that personalization can have a significant or very significant impact on customer retention rates, customer lifetime value, customer advocacy rates, and promotion conversion rates (Forrester). Businesses that are unable to provide a personalized experience risk frustrating their customers, which could result in a significant profit loss.
While the adoption of personalization technology is growing, businesses need to be forward-thinking to keep pace with their customers and ahead of their competitors. It is the job of the marketing team to bring the personal element to their customers’ online shopping experiences, providing them with the right content, in the right context and at the right time. With personalization, customers will feel like they are getting the same experience as if they were in-store with an expert personal shopper, ensuring the business has every possible chance to win, keep and grow their customers.
Author : Anthony Wilkey
Anthony Wilkey, Regional Director at SmartFocus, a global leader in real-time, personalized cloud marketing, has worked in the fields of CRM and marketing intelligence for more than 15 years. He has extensive experience with working on collaborative, often multinational digital ventures and is especially focused on topics such as multichannel marketing, marketing automation and data-driven marketing strategies. Anthony is also involved with the DMA, sitting on the Email Marketing Council and its Benchmarking Hub, responsible for producing and editing a number of industry reports each year.