POSTED BY: | September 30, 2020

Anyone who has gotten an unsolicited, yet irrelevant, promotion or product offering during an on-line search is sure to experience a creepy feeling that “someone may be watching me, but they don’t know me”. This kind of reaction is the third rail when trying to personalize interactions or win over a customer’s loyalty.  When done right, personalization can be a win/win for both retailers and consumers. Correctly targeted relevant communication creates delight, customer loyalty, and drives double-digit revenue growth. The challenge, however, is to personalize in a way that genuinely delivers authentic value.

To better understand what customers value, a recent survey among shoppers revealed that consumers expect retailers to connect digital messages with their interests.

For many organizations, this is challenging because it requires collaboration between what are often disparate areas within the organization: customer service, R&D, marketing, and sales data analytics. Yet, if done effectively, relevant communications that seamlessly align with personal interest provide real value to the customer. The customer believes that the retailer both knows them and includes products and services that are desired, sought, and timely.

To provide something a customer is interested in, companies need to use more sophisticated relationship algorithms capable of offering lifestyle-complementary products or services (instead of just the things the shopper has browsed or matches demographically).

In a recent study with over 2,000 survey responses, we were able to see what kind of personalized communication works for customers and what doesn’t. A highly effective way to become relevant to shoppers is through tracking the events they seek and circumstances that prompted their search. This might take the form of a reminder when someone may be running out of an item purchased earlier, when the desired item is on sale, or when a new style is launched for a product or category the shopper has previously purchased.

The timing of a message is just as important as what it says. Good content that connects with consumers draws on data about behaviors, patterns, and habits. Bad timing virtually eliminates the chance for a purchase, while potentially annoying the customer. For example, an Internet service provider figured out that a consumer has moved… but the company waited too long to reach out. “It’s now been a month since I moved, so obviously, I already have my Internet service hooked up,” the customer thinks. Anticipating a purchase trigger, either driven by life events or seasonal interest, can be useful when on-target and just slightly ahead of purchase triggers. Fundamentally, companies must develop behavior/interest-based marketing models triggered by consumer action and desire more so than traditional marketing drivers to survive.

Live Long & Prosper

Jim Ittenbach