Erik Severinghaus

Vice President, Personalization

The Importance of Personalization in the Evolving Customer Journey

There’s no doubt that the skills marketers need to be successful have evolved. A few decades ago, marketers operated in a Don Draper fashion, measuring success strictly in terms of mass appeal. That’s evolved to strategies that focus on personalization and measure success not only by the number of eyes that see an ad or piece of content, but by the engagement it receives and the conversions it drives. This all stems from an ever-evolving customer decision journey.

As Harvard Business Review puts it, customers have become so empowered that, “They can call the shots, hunting down what they want when they want it and getting it delivered to their doorsteps at a rock-bottom price.”

This power pushes marketers to put themselves in customers’ mindsets by appealing to their true intents—whether those are driven by a specific item, price point, or level of convenience. The responsibility lies on marketers to use the data they have to best manage and shape the customer journey.

Harvard Business Review also shares that, “Marketers are increasingly managing journeys as they would any product. Journeys are thus becoming central to the customer’s experience of a brand—and as important as the products themselves in providing competitive advantage.”

Armed with data, brands are no longer forced to be reactive, they can take proactive steps to ensure a relevant customer journey that ultimately leads to trust, conversions, and brand loyalty:

 

1. Set Yourself Up for Success


This may be obvious, but personalization should be thought of as a supplemental layer that is added onto your current marketing practices. It’s important that basic digital technologies such as your website, email marketing capabilities, and mobile applications are running smoothly before you implement technology to optimize your content.

 

2. Define Business Goals


Pinpointing your challenges in consumer engagement and what you want to achieve from personalization will outline how you define success. Oftentimes your business problem is not solved on the first try, so identifying your challenges and goals will help you keep the big picture in mind while you adjust edge cases and minor problems.

 

3. Create a Multi-Channel Experience


A customer’s journey isn’t limited to one channel, and how you reach him shouldn’t be either. As the way consumers interact with brands and make purchases evolves, new tools are emerging that provide marketers the ability to target customers across their many devices.

For instance, individuals often start the purchasing path by researching products and services on their phones and then convert on their desktops. By using cross-device techniques and targeting, brands are able to link customers to their various devices, creating a more accurate and holistic picture of the complete customer journey. This means that if a consumer is researching your product on her phone, you could then remarket specifically to her on her desktop or laptop, where she is more likely to make a purchase.

 

4. Automate


This means taking the steps that you were previously doing manually and streamlining them to save time and money. If you are manually creating and optimizing content, the more rules you apply to multiple segmented lists, the more time it will take (and the more room there will be for error). Automating the personalization of that same material will save a vast amount of time. One of our media clients had set up multiple segments within its email newsletter, based on reader interest. Where the team once spent hours manually arranging the appropriate content within each newsletter, they shaved off more than eight hours of work per week by automating the personalization process. This process allows you to combine man and machine; you can create content to address business goals while allowing automation to take the heavy lifting off your plate.

 

5. Innovate within the Customer Journey


Ongoing experimentation helps analyze digital engagement and ensure you’re using data to generate the options consumers want. This innovation could start with a customer, Sam, clicking through vegetarian recipes on a packaged foods company’s website and the company incorporating these preferences into not only what Sam sees when he arrives at the home page, but also the emails he receives and the product recommended to him through the brand’s app. In this example, new value is created for both the company, through customer data, and the consumer, through relevant content.

 

Whatever your stage of personalization, one thing is clear: customers are changing the path to purchase and if marketers want to succeed, they need to create an experience that engages and delights the customer throughout his journey.

For more information about the new customer journey or how Rise uses customer data to personalize marketing, reach out to Rise.

03/14/2016 at 12:00