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When we look at a modern, data-driven approach to marketing, personalised marketing is widely seen as the most successful strategy for connecting with customers on a one-to-one basis – and for retaining those customers.
As a way of ‘humanising’ digital marketing, personalisation demonstrates that your brand cares about a customer’s individual needs and that you are capable of – not to mention dedicated to – meeting those needs. Customers are becoming more aware of their own digital footprint and how their data is used for personalisation; it’s something they’ve increasingly come to expect.
Our recent Data Deadlock report revealed that 63% of consumers find personalised recommendations useful, with 83% claiming they hate irrelevant digital marketing.
Yet, despite this growing acceptance of personalised strategies, marketers are still not making nearly enough use of them. In fact, the same study found that 4 in 10 marketers are not using data to achieve full personalisation of website and email content. A disheartening 15% don’t even believe it’s possible.
Even so, given the current state of digital marketing, it’s essential for marketers to stop seeing personalisation as an extra feature, and begin understanding it as an indispensable part of their strategy.
Every time shoppers go on to Amazon and see recommendations based on their previous purchases, or receive an email from a travel site advertising a promotion tailored to their previous destinations, they become more aware that a brand could be connecting with them in a way that better caters to their needs.
The more it happens, the fewer excuses other brands have not to do the same, especially considering that nearly one in five customers declare these personalised recommendations to be the most influential, when it comes to making a purchase.
Personalisation: the consumer ‘gets it’
Clearly, customers no longer see personalisation as a next-generation magic trick. Even older generations, perceived as less tech-savvy than youngsters, know what marketers do with data: one survey found that 91% of 55 to 64-year-olds had heard of personalisation. Today, consumers see it as the mark of a brand that knows what it’s doing, that knows how to best serve them. In increasing numbers, they expect it.
This doesn’t mean that marketers should simply begin implementing thoughtlessly personalised marketing right away. Brands who are dedicated to adding personalised marketing to their repertoire must be ready to do so carefully and consciously.
Not least because taking personalisation too far – crossing perceived boundaries of privacy or being over-familiar – could quickly have your customers running for the hills. Sure, we grudgingly accept that the pair of shoes we looked at last week will follow us around the internet until the end of the month. But if those same ads started referring to us by name or suggesting shoes for our children, it will trigger a paranoid tech lockdown as we rush to turn off our GPS, disable cookies and switch on the ad blockers.
Still, the point of personalisation is to demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to a specific customer’s needs. To be as effective as possible, personalisation must consider behavioural preferences as much as it does merchandising preferences.
Personalisation is a requirement for customer satisfaction. Innovative personalisation is an opportunity for customer excitement.
Taking personalised marketing into the future
Ultimately, this is the next step in personalised marketing: understanding not just what products or deals your customer might want, but how and when they want to hear about them.
- How many devices does your customer use to access your platform?
- Is there a device they use most frequently?
- How do they prefer to be notified about deals?
- When do they want to be notified?
- Do they prefer shopping online or in-store?
Applying these sorts of questions to your data allows you to personalise your marketing beyond the basic standards, providing customers with a brand experience that meets their expectations for how a brand should interact with them. It excites them with the promise that your business is pushing new possibilities when it comes to meeting their needs.
It also ensures that level of personalisation meets the customer’s privacy standards. It’s all well and good to know what items a shopper might be interested in seeing, but is your marketing really personalised if it doesn’t take into account a customer’s individual comfort level? A tailored product suggestion isn’t really personalised if it’s still deployed by means of a one-size-fits-all approach.
As a result, the marketer’s job is two-fold: to provide customers with the fundamentals of personalisation as the bedrock of their marketing, and to find new ways to personalise that customer’s experience, based on careful examination of the values and behaviours that make themselves known through data.
Personalisation isn’t the future any more, it’s the present. It’s the job of creative and canny marketers to figure out how they want to make the next future.
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