Personalization: The Key to Customer Loyalty

Kathleen Ohlson is a writer and editor with over 10 years of experience. Previously, she was a high tech reporter covering various topics, including 9/11 and virus attacks. You can follow Kathleen on Twitter, @kaohlson.

Does anyone like to be called, “Hey, you!”

No, I didn’t think so. It’s not friendly, warm or personal.

Your customers want attention, and they’re getting a lot of it from a lot of places. With access to smartphones, tablets and computers, they’re exposed to more content options than they have time to view. Customers can barely keep up with what’s going on and what’s available.

Companies need to remember their customers are individuals with their own wants, needs, issues and goals that are always changing. Catering to your customers and getting your voice heard becomes a balancing act. And how do you do this? With personalized content.

For your customers, they get content tailored to them, so they get a sense of control. Personalized content speaks directly to them, creating a one-to-one experience. It also helps to form a relationship with you, maybe by becoming repeat buyers or devoted followers on social media.

Numerous studies this year alone have shown companies are lagging behind offering personalized content for different reasons, such as technology and dedicated personnel. These companies may be missing out on adding to their bottom line. Research firm Gartner predicts that smart personalization engines, which are used to recognize a buyer’s intention, will help digital businesses increase their profits by up to 15% by 2020.

If you have any doubts about personalizing your content, various recent studies discuss how personalization pays off for both your customers and you:  

  • According to research from Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, makes relevant recommendations based on past purchases, and knows their purchase history.

  • 63% of consumers think more positively of a brand if it gives them content that is more valuable, relevant or interesting, according to a Rapt Media survey.

  • 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that offers a personalized service or experience, according to a Forrester research analyst.  

And how do companies do this? By capturing data. A lot of data.

First off, define what customer information you’re going compile and how it fits into an overall campaign. Go beyond the basics like email, name, location and demographics. Collect your buyer’s lifestyle and online purchase behaviors. Track every touch point from inbound to digital to offline channels. Keep an eye on social engagement, such as tweets or likes.

So what do you do with all this data? Practice segmentation.

Try to find discernible patterns in your customer’s behavior or user engagement across all touch points. Then, create audience segments based on patterns, such as areas of interest or geographic location.

The more data is collected, the more personalized the content becomes. But with all of this data, you’ll need to be responsible about what information will be available on a personal level and what will remain anonymous.

What’s hip and happening

Your customers now expect all digital engagement to have some personalization. But it’s beyond just adding their name to an email: Personalized content is now showing up in all kinds of places.

Programmable marketing is technology that automates and optimizes buying and placing ads in real time. So your buyers can view ads based on their wants, needs, preferences and more. It makes their journey more relevant and valuable at every step.

Personalization is also be used when your customers are on their smartphones or other mobile devices through proximity targeting. It uses beacon technology to send out personalized content to customers’ mobile devices when they are geographically nearby.

You know when you google something online, and it comes back with a response like it read your mind? Those are product recommendation engines, which offer recommendations based on items customers viewed or content they liked or shared. For example, Amazon shows other books that may interest its customers based on a book they previously bought. Or, these engines automatically fill in a search suggestion.

Do’s and don’ts

Or course, you need to be careful of getting too personal too soon. Personalization is based on an established relationship, not when someone searches for an item once or twice. Target, Pinterest and Shutterfly are some of the companies that fumbled with this connection.

Wait to see if a potential customer’s search becomes more frequent, and then you can start sending options related to that topic. For example, send a personal email including their name and follow up the next time with more personalized content around their searches.

Make sure the content is relevant to your customers, and delivered on the right device at the right time. Give personalization a purpose.

Companies need to put the emphasis on quality content, rather than quantity. Identifying with your buyers and knowing what appeals to them is a powerful way to show them you understand. And by offering a solution to their problems, you’ll be able to form a loyal relationship with your customers.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Unsplash.