Marketers have been talking about personalization for years now. So why haven’t all brands perfected it? The problem is that “personalization” is a too narrow view of what truly great customer experiences are. “Personalized experiences” connote an email with the customer’s name or birthday taken into account. It’s an elementary definition. Sending a 20% off coupon for a customer’s birthday is not a sufficiently custom experience to make that customer feel important to a brand.
Instead, I prefer the term “1:1 experiences” to describe those experiences brands create on an individual level for their customers. This means sending educational content about plant care after selling a new house plant, sharing reminders for classes on the channels the customer prefers to use and upgrading a frequent concert attendee’s ticket for free. With ever-evolving consumer needs and the accelerated consumer shift to digital since the pandemic started, today’s competitive brands need to create 1:1 wow experiences for every customer.
I believe 2022 is the year brands can use technology to maximize 1:1 experiences and build relationships that consumers want.
In fact, 91% of consumers responding to an Accenture survey said they are more likely to shop with brands that “recognize, remember and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations.”
As more consumers expect stronger 1:1 experiences from brands, I recommend brands take the following steps to make 2022 the year they get good at this.
Today’s Customer Journey Is Non-Linear
We’re in the era of omnichannel. In the past, brands were able to drive the customer and decide how they interacted with them. Now, with the ever-expanding number of interactive media options, people are not stuck going down one path or funnel anymore. It’s a complex journey with many twists and turns. Customers can visit multiple websites, blogs, social networks, video and podcast aggregators.
People’s online activity is fluid and ongoing, whether they’ve made a new purchase or repeat purchase. While it’s a great for customers, it’s also great for brands — if they can adapt. When it comes to 1:1 experiences, brands should know customers are now creating their own experiences. The focus should be on ensuring the best engagement rates on all the channels your target audience frequents throughout their customer lifecycle and provides a great customer experience.
Related Article: How to Unleash Your Omnichannel Content Strategy
Create 1:1 Experiences Throughout the Customer Journey
1:1 experiences need to be created across multiple channels and through the entire customer lifecycle because brands need to respond to where their consumers are. This is where a CXA tool with multi-channel orchestration can keep all of your channels connected and synced to your customer data. With multi-channel orchestration, you keep all of your favorite tools and marketing channels. A CXA tool will connect them and centralize all of the data — effectively multiplying the value of each platform in your toolset without having to replace any of them.
For example, you can connect your brand’s SMS to your website marketing channel and have a personal text offer sent to your contacts when they show interest in a particular product on your website.
Related Article: Immersive Experiences: Be There or Be Left Behind
Segment and Adapt Based on Custom Attributes
True 1:1 experiences are creating a completely new experience for everyone. Personalization can go far beyond the info someone enters in a web form. Today, brands have the power to hyper-personalize. Audience segmentation can happen on the individual level and campaigns can be adapted to the individual level based on consented first-party data like website behaviors, visit frequency, purchase patterns and preferences. All of this data combined with automation means you can quickly create unique, relevant and higher-converting product recommendations. This gives you the power to treat every visitor like a regular — whether it’s five customers or five million.
Enhance Your Strategy With Machine Learning
Leverage tools with machine learning capabilities that can look at all your customer information and improve your campaign sending in real-time based on customer behavior. Machine learning can optimize, automate and personalize content and email send times to increase engagement rates at the 1:1 level. AI can even help identify leads that are most likely to buy from you — so you can create truly 1:1 experiences for them.
Related Article: What Do We Mean by Personalization?
Test Different Methods
Business owners know their customers the best, so they should first try methods that make sense for their audience. If you notice you have a concentration of customers in certain locations, you can test localized content (based on weather or similar interests) to see if that increases sales or engagement. Any data that you can leverage to build a relationship will almost always be preferred by the consumer over a generic and thoughtless ad or email.
Gain an Advantage Over Brands That Don’t Create 1:1 Experiences
With all of the tools available today, brands should not be struggling to realize the full potential of 1:1 experiences. Not only will you build lasting relationships with your consumers, but data suggests they are likely to spend more with your brand as well. According to a study conducted by BCG, “When the shopping experience was highly personalized, customers indicated that they were 110% more likely to add additional items to their baskets and 40% more likely to spend more than they had planned.”
The pace of digital transformation for businesses of all sizes will continue to accelerate. If brands can learn to fully utilize these tools and strategies to their advantage, they can help drive every key business metric by giving customers a meaningful and authentic 1:1 experience.
Jason VandeBoom is the Founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign. Founded in 2003, ActiveCampaign accelerates every company’s growth with the only automation platform designed for ideal customer experiences.