The online world offers customers more choice than ever before. A hundred alternatives to any given service are just a few search terms away. Customers are smart, well-informed and have a very low tolerance to inconvenience.
Content produced in association with Progress Sitefinity.
For businesses, this means having a great customer experience has moved from ‘nice to have’ to ‘can’t do without’. Your users expect be engaged from the moment they land on your site, held in rapture at each stage of the conversion funnel before exiting your site with a toothy grin on their faces.
Personalisation helps you achieve this. It means you can deliver targeted content to your customers based on their interests, social category, demographics and context – giving you the ability to serve the right messages to the right users at the right time.
Personalisation isn’t just about meeting expectations. It has a tangible effect on conversion, too. Personalisation can deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend, as well as improving sales by 10% or more. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2018, companies that have invested in personalisation will see a 20% improvement in sales results over those who haven’t.
Supermarkets have already begun to use personalisation to increase customer loyalty, using reward cards to track purchases and offer shoppers relevant in-store discounts. In 2015, Waitrose took this a step further by offering a ‘pick your own discounts’ promotion, allowing shoppers to select 10 products to permanently discount by 20%.
Personalisation is delivering results for other industries, too – in 2011, BMW sent out personalised MMS messages to 1,200 customers in the US, achieved a 30% conversion rate, which equated to around half a million dollars in revenue. The Casa Del Mar hotel in Santa Monica also benefitted from very specific geographical targeting, using mobile video marketing to boost signups to their loyalty scheme. After just 10 days, the campaign saw an ROI of 400%.
Data, data, data
So how does one achieve such startling results? The answer begins with data.
Several different types of data can be collected on users – each with a different use. Data on user behaviour, such as their purchase history, page views and search keywords can be used to draw inferences about that user’s interests. Because it relies on an inference, this is referred to as ‘implicit’ data.
More tangible data is also available, such as a user’s profile and stated preferences. This is information the user has ‘told’ you about who they are and what they’re interested in – referred to as ‘explicit’ data.
The digital experience cloud
Both implicit and explicit data are valuable independently. Implicit data can be used to display a relevant deal based on a previous purchase, or generate an on-site product recommendation. Explicit data can be used to group customers in a mailing list, ensuring your marketing emails are always relevant to the user’s interests.
To access the full benefits of personalisation, most organisations seek to combine the two – taking both explicit and implicit data to create a ‘hybrid’ approach. Reconciling the two requires integrating data from multiple sources, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and email marketing, into a single database.
This has led to the development of a new type of system called the Digital Experience Cloud (DEC). Using the scalability and performance enhancements offered by cloud technology, average marketers are now able to do Big Data analysis in a simple, user-friendly way. Integrating this technology with an existing CRM system, such as Salesforce, can deliver detailed, data-driven insights into your audience. And without it, it is near impossible to manually keep track of multiple data points from the same user, let alone to personalise their experience in real time.
A DEC allows organisations to generate a detailed user profile based on all previous interactions with your business. This helps makes effective personalisation possible, as marketers can track engagement with their business over time and over multiple touchpoints, optimising the experience and improving your conversion rate.
DECs also allow businesses to perform automatic analysis on their user bases using machine-learning algorithms. For example, it’s possible to look at similar groups of customers and draw out trends based on their preferences and behavioural data. This can also be used to predict their future needs – the more you know about your customers’ needs, the better you can satisfy them.
The virtuous circle
Better personalisation will create users who are more engaged. The more users are engaged, the more they will interact with your business. The more they interact with your business, the more data you can collect about them. The more data you can collect, the better your personalisation can be.
Let’s look at website interactions to see what kind of data can be collected, and how this works in practice:
As you can see, user data can be collected from the very first visit. Using a DEC system, this information can be attached to a user profile and added to after each subsequent visit, providing an increasingly detailed view of the customer. Customers with similar attributes can even be collated into groups and targeted with custom marketing messages.
Personalising your customer journey is a complex process – to find out more, download The Ultimate Guide to Website Personalisation. It has detailed information on how personalisation works, how it applies to the customer journey, and how to test your success.