At any given time, digital innovation leader Delvinia belongs to more than eight loyalty programs and reviews 5,000-plus marketing materials a day. Historically, the company has associated marketing activities with large, broad-based messages intended to attract the largest number of potential customers and maximize dollars spent and profits made. But there is another side to the equation, one that President and Chief Innovation Officer Steve Mast says is extremely prevalent to the order of business. With so much noise in the marketplace, making a resonant connection with just one of its customers- the essence of what these marketing campaigns are designed for – can be a challenge.
What executives like Mast are finding is that personalized marketing is a long-term, ongoing goal that is more productive than a one-off opportunity to make a scale or increase
revenue from a specific product or service. Personal marketing is a strategy by which companies deliver individualized content to recipients through data collection, analysis and the use of automation technology. The goal, when done effectively, is to truly engage with your customers or prospective customers on a one-on-one basis.
Maybe that is why 93 percent of businesses with advanced personalization strategies have reported increased revenue last year, according to the “Personalization Development Study” by personalization software company Monetate and WBR Research. “We know that by personalizing interactions, your marketing communication has a better chance of turning that potential customer into a repeat one,” Mast says. “The greater the degree of personalization, the greater your chances are of winning the fight for attention and building long-lasting customer relationships. Consumers are savvy. They will tell you when you’re doing something wrong. They’ll stop using your products, and once that happens, it’s very difficult to regain their patronage. That’s why it’s so important to think of every point of customer communication as an opportunity to build on what you’ve done before. Personalization is not a one-off strategy. Measurement should also be considered long-term.”
When done effectively, a brand can successfully improve customer experience, drive revenue, increase brand loyalty and create consistency across all channels. Strategies typically include targeted emails, custom content and video messages, product recommendations, social media marketing and Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).
Brands like Delvinia have found success creating one-to-one relationships through technology. Mast says that while the company has the data it needs context. “Without context about purchase history, complementary purchases or online searches, the data you collect is useless because it doesn’t offer the right context tailored to that specific consumer. You have to know your customer to understand what he or she wants from a marketer.”
One of Delvinia’s newest products is an automated market research platform called Methodify, which does just that for marketers and insights professionals. “Most digital marketers have an abundance of information on the what, and not enough insight on the why”, says Mast, who spearheads a consulting team that uses new and emerging digital technologies to help marketers, researchers, and business leaders collect, visualize and enable data.
In the world of personalized marketing, some brands do it better than others. Even the simplest of practices can become engrained into our everyday lives. Take Starbucks, which can offer personalized services like calling your name out after an order whether you order in person or use its app.
“The offers I receive mirror my purchase habits and incentivize me to visit a location usually more than once per day because what’s offered is specifically appealing to my tastes,” Mast says. “Knowing that they tailor personalization for every customer doesn’t lessen my personal experience, because my touchpoints with the company are through the app, in-store, and via email are all one-to-one interactions.
Get Personal Already
In a recent survey, Infosys found that nine out of 10 shoppers prefer to buy from companies that take into account their purchase history. While that may seem like a given in today’s data-driven landscape, Kevin Groome believes you have to look beyond the numbers.
“Consumers crave authenticity as well,” says Groome, founder of brand management software company CampainDrive. “This is something driven not just by data, but by understanding. You might say that they want to go beyond personalized communications, to get to (or maybe, get back to) personal communication. In a world where a new category is getting ‘Amazon’d’ every day, an authentic, long-lasting, and emotionally-based relationship with your customer is the best way to protect against the race to the pricing bottom.”
The CampaignDrive software is built around problems of major national brands over the last 20 years. It developed a SaaS platform that enables brands to scale through consistent, on-brand, customized marketing materials across every location. For techies, a single platform allows all data to be stored in one location, metrics to be easily aggregated in reports and dashboards, and the entire team to collaborate in one place. And that is where the fun starts. The next step is measuring personalized marketing effort. In a time when marketers hear that response and purchase rates are the metrics to monitor, it is really only the beginning.
“‘You have to go deeper and look at brand-affinity”, Groome says. “I don’t want customers simply to buy from me; I want them to love buying from me. That’s the moat I want to build around my business.” When done right, this makes the customer feel- at one and the same time- personally understood and part of a comfortable community- your community. “When you achieve that balance- a trusted transition within a welcoming community- you’re doing it right,” Groome says.
Look no further than the Marriott/Starwood brand to see how personalization in the shopping experience works. People are so passionate about their points in these programs that it actually was one of the primary motivators behind the largest merger in the hotel industry’s history. The level of personalization in Marriott Bonvoy now extends from the purchase through the entire guest experience.
“From the moment you think about booking a stay to the moment you check out and head for the airport, these teams are looking for ways to strike that delicate balance of knowledge and respect,” Groome says. “The impact on the customer is immediate and has been overwhelmingly positive and popular (despite last year’s security breach snafu). And the impact on the business has been just as plainly evident.”
The key, as many marketers are finding, is in execution. If personal is how you communicate with your customer, Omnichannel is where. Each channel presents its own opportunities and challenges for conducting communication on a truly personal basis. But within each channel, the brand has to conduct itself in a manner that demonstrates understanding and caring for the customer.
“Technology will always be a challenge,” Groome says. “Getting your customer data from disparate, disconnected systems exposes you to the risk of falling short on the intelligence that customers expect of the companies they do business with. Another challenge for personalization has to do with respect for the user’s ‘personal space.’ How do we demonstrate empathy without straying into territory that customers can all too easily see as ‘creepy’? That will always be, I believe, a balancing act that is tough to get just right.”
In the end, put to practice, marketing should be technology driven and human executed. While technology has made personalization easier, our expectations as consumers are higher as well. This is as much a challenge as it is an opportunity. “ we’re always collecting data, which means our customer-focused insights are only getting smarter,” Mast says. “Learning to adapt this data to meaningful interaction will remain the challenge, but one that can provide massive benefits.”
By: Michael J. Pallerino
Priorities Magazine – June 2021 Issue