Wanted: Personalized Experiences

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Personalization
Marketing
Personalized messages enable brands to build more meaningful customer relationships by demonstrating that they understand their customers' needs and interests. Many marketers, however, have yet to make the transition to personalized communications.

Last weekend I celebrated my first wedding anniversary. Anyone who saw my inbox though would assume that I was about to be married, judging by the many emails about wedding dresses, limos, and flower arrangements that merchants continue to send me a year after my wedding. What would be more useful is information about what to do after a wedding. Considering that I shared my wedding date with vendors, it shouldn't be too difficult to customize the emails to match the customer journey. I have yet to receive an email about how to preserve my wedding gown, however, I receive plenty of alerts for upcoming dress sales (which I regularly delete).

It's unquestionable that generic marketing is less effective compared to targeted content. Customers expect brands to provide them with information that's timely and relevant. Personalized messages enable brands to build more meaningful customer relationships by demonstrating that they understand their customers' needs and interests. Many marketers, however, have yet to make the transition to personalized communications.

From a poll of 1,200 U.S. consumers, 72 percent of the respondents indicated that they are frustrated when they receive generic marketing that doesn't relate to their interests or past purchases, according to marketing automation firm Autopilot. Additionally, 65 percent said that getting fast responses is the most important aspect of modern day marketing, followed by expert knowledge (61 percent), then offers personalized to their needs (49 percent).

Numerous processes must fall into place to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time and some companies are still catching up. However, brands can start delivering relevant content and improving the customer experience by adhering to a few best practices. Autopilot CMO Guy Marion recommends the following guidelines:

Define and evolve your segmentation criteria: The best crafted content or most carefully curated links will fall short if you're delivering snowboarding tips to skiers.
Make sure personalization is useful and not gimmicky: For example, direct users who are inactive in a product or who failed to complete a purchasing process with helpful links or knowledge base content that will immediately provide the right guidance.
Alert the user when making personalized content suggestions: Curate content for a reader's needs to narrow their selection universe. Alert them to this fact by indicating [what the content is based on] e.g., prior search history, app usage, or content engagement.

Hopefully, more marketers will take personalized messages to heart and I won't receive an email about wedding dress sales when my next anniversary rolls around.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION