Let’s Get Personal for Valentine’s Day

What does Valentine’s Day have to do with data, analytics, and the drive to personalize marketing? A whole lot these days! The day we express love with flowers, gifts, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates poses a familiar challenge to marketers: how to woo busy consumers using all the data and technology at our disposal. So, what better holiday to explore brands’ increasing fascination with personalization and 1:1 marketing?

Let’s first define personalization in marketing terms. It is driven by a desire for relevance and results in ongoing, individualized interactions with the consumer. As these interactions grow, so too does our knowledge and ability to tailor a more engaging conversation. It’s really an opportunity for continuous learning to foster long-term relationships. That kind of personalization, of course, requires accurate, granular, and up-to-date profiles about people and their preferences as they engage with brands across the myriad of channels and devices. That’s where the new tools and techniques around data management and analytics come in. They can enable us to better understand where an individual researches for products and services, conducts price comparisons, pours over reviews, and eventually chooses to make their purchase. It is often not love at first sight, but rather a multichannel/multi-device dance.

When it comes to delivering a personalized experience, every touch point is indeed critical in executing on a successful omnichannel marketing strategy. (See the recent ClickZ column “In Pursuit of the Universal Customer Experience: Omnichanel vs. Multichannel Marketing.“) Mobile engagement on tablets and smartphones is no exception. It’s one of the most recent, and also more challenging of channels for marketers. The opportunities for 1:1 marketing in mobile are nearly endless, and marketing for Valentine’s Day gives us a kind of “case study” to explore some of them. How important is mobile? Forrester predicts that by 2018, tablets will make up an extraordinary 42 percent of e-commerce, and smartphones will comprise 11 percent. Marketing today is still heavily PC-centric. But, that’s changing fast before our very eyes.

Mobile Engagement Blooms on Valentine’s Day

Maxymiser conducted a study last year to see how men and women shop online or with mobile devices as Valentine’s Day approached. The findings are worth taking to the bank in 2015 when the National Retail Federation predicts $18.9 billion in spending.

Maxymiser put it succinctly with the study’s title: “Valentine’s Day: Retail’s Love Affair With Digital, as the company looked at how men and women approach online and mobile shopping in advance of the holiday. Here are a few highlights from the study:

  • 32 percent of men and 30 percent of women are more likely to click on targeted offers when buying a Valentine’s Day gift.
  • 78 percent of women and 73 percent of men seek personalization to engage online and via mobile to support their Valentine’s Day gift buying for secondary purchases.
  • Men and women differ among preferences for mobile devices and content, women opting more often for tablets over smartphones and seeking price comparison information to a greater extent than men.
  • More than half of men (52 percent) and 42 percent of women said that they would not wait more than five seconds for pages or images to load. This is not a forgiving environment for brands.

The bottom line is that shoppers are not all created the same. They respond to personalized offers that take into consideration when they are shopping (last-minute or well before a holiday), on what device, and the importance of triggers like free delivery. It’s all grist for the mill. What’s clear is that there is huge opportunity to customize and personalize offers on insights supported by testing (A/B and multivariate) and other analytics applied to data.

A final word on mobile – given first impressions do count! To engage with people on tablets and smartphones, brands use Web-based, Internet-enabled apps optimized for mobile, as well as native mobile apps installed directly on a device. FTD, for example, optimizes for mobile orders of flowers using a Web-based app. In contrast, FTD Mercury Mobile is an example of a native app available both from Apple and Android. It’s important to understand the ways to optimize mobile apps to ensure consumers can engage with your brand successfully and find the mobile experience a satisfying one. (See the recent ClickZ column “The Internet of Things Starts With Agility Everywhere” for more information about mobile app optimization.)

The End Game

Deep insight at the individual level is the essential first step in 1:1 marketing. Consumers expect brands to actually know them and be aware of how they interact across each touch point. One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of personalization to date has been the lack of a cross-channel, cross-platform integrated view of consumer behavior at a highly granular level. Fortunately, that’s changing with new data management and marketing optimization solutions that collect and analyze multichannel data at the user level data to drive content relevance, timeliness, and targeted offers.

“Remember me and speak to me as the individual that I am.” That’s what any consumer is ultimately asking for when they engage with a brand. And when we do listen and act accordingly, we can get involved in a happy and lasting relationship. Now, that’s indeed a Valentine’s Day wish come true.

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