Hop onto your Amazon account, start scrolling, and you will find a wide variety of personalized recommendations that likely encompass your TV-watching habits, most recent searches and pet and grocery needs. Amazon was an early adopter of this kind of, usually algorithm-based, personalized customization, and most consumers are comfortable with it. More and more, consumers expect personalization in a variety of different deployments and from all brands, not just the big ones.
Offering a quality, personalized experience to consumers is an effective way to generate loyalty and repeat business in a very crowded marketplace.
Consumers Have More Choices Than Ever And Need To Be Courted
Consumers want to feel like brands and businesses are paying attention to them, and if businesses don’t pay attention, consumers will go elsewhere. Getting to know consumers can happen through the acquisition of first-party data via forms or action tracking, interactions on social media or asking for feedback. This kind of “digital dialogue” helps consumers feel “seen” and can lead to personalized product suggestions, offering the most targeted rewards program, addressing environmental concerns or customized promotions for certain audience segments. And these personalizations drive revenue.
See People, Not Patterns, Accenture Interactive’s 2019 Consumer Pulse Survey on how brands can use data to humanize consumer relationships, found that “93% of consumers agree it is important that every interaction they have with a brand is excellent, whenever or wherever they happen in the decision to purchase from a brand or retailer.” And, Accenture’s annual surveys on consumer/brand interactions have previously found that these interactions should include “brands who recognize, remember and provide relevant offers and recommendations.”
Personalized Experiences Are Expected From Consumers
The targeting now available via first-party data and machine learning has led to an expectation of personalization brands must meet. Creating personalized experiences for consumers is particularly important if you want to continue having first-party access to buying habits and audience preferences, which can be critical to targeting audiences and scaling revenues, because – in general – shoppers are only willing to provide their data when they perceive they’re getting something in return.
Ross Paquette, CEO and Founder of Maropost, a customer engagement platform, said, “Isn’t that [personalized experiences] the price brands pay for collecting behavior data from their customers? Now that technology can provide the information, brands need to make experiences meaningful to more targeted groups of people, the obligation is on brands to add value to their customers’ lives.”
For direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, in particular, following the consumer journey, zeroing in on the product preferences and shopping habits of consumers and leveraging consumer information for more tailored, personal shopping experiences can be the difference between a success story or a another flash-in-the-pan DTC brand.
Marketers Should Deploy Personalization Appropriately And Aligned With Targeted Audiences
Despite the fact that many consumers willingly share their personal information, marketers should be mindful not to overstep when reaching out to consumers. In a blog for Hubspot, Creative Strategist Amanda Zantal-Wiener said “[Personalization is] effective when done correctly — personalized emails, for example, have a 6.2% higher open rate than those that aren’t [personalized]. But in an era with growing concern over privacy and security, tread lightly. Let your customers know that you understand them, without being intrusive.” In fact, 73% of consumers are willing to exchange their data for quality interactions with brands, provided there is transparency about how they use and collect the data.
Especially for marketing strategies focused on targeting Gen Z or Millennials, remember that personalization isn’t a one size fits all approach. Younger consumers respond to user-generated content (UGC) and brands that tell stories. They also watch 50% less TV than adults over 35 and instead watch videos on YouTube and other social media platforms. Warby Parker has been effective at targeting Millennials with a personalized campaign that asks for customer feedback, creates fun stories on Instagram and aligns with several social activism initiatives.
“Smart marketers know it’s much more lucrative to sell to an engaged and fanatical audience, which is why the proactive customer engagement strategies like user-generated content and referral and loyalty programs are becoming so commonplace —they’re the top performers,” said Paquette. But loyalty programs are also becoming expected. Personalization that makes shopping easier or that makes customers feel valued can also surprise and delight, encouraging consumers to shop more often and spend a bit more each time.