In its recently released Next in Personalization 2021 Report, McKinsey & Company said that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, with 76% getting frustrated with brands that fall short.
Personalization also leads to better business, according to the research firm. Fast-growing companies drive 40% more of their revenue from personalization than their slower-growing counterparts.
With the need for personalization so evident, it would be hard to find a firm that isn’t attempting to adapt. But many of those efforts follow the same stale tactics.
Below are three innovative strategies that CMOs say are worth pursuing right now.
“Believe it or not, discounts are becoming a means to do sophisticated personalization,” said Sai Koppala, SheerID CMO. “Until very recently, marketers had regarded discounts as a non-strategic part of their marketing mix. Discounts were used mainly as a vehicle for moving inventory that was sitting on store shelves or in a warehouse. However, a growing number of brands such as Target, Amazon, Comcast and ASICS are using discounts to acquire valuable privacy-friendly data from consumers. Data which they can then harness to fine-tune their personalization efforts.”
Koppala explained the mechanics of such efforts: The brand offers a discount to a set of consumers based on a community they belong to. These communities are formed around deep-seated attributes, such as their:
- Life stage (i.e., students, seniors)
- Occupation (i.e., teachers, nurses)
- Affiliation (i.e., the military community)
Before the consumer can redeem the discount, they must provide information about themselves (zero-party data) for verification.
“ASICS provides an interesting example,” Koppala said. “As part of its OneASICS loyalty program, ASICS offers discounts to specific customer communities such as first responders and medical professionals. In order to qualify for the discount, the consumer must enter their name, email address and the name of their employer in order to prove they are a first responder or medical professional.”
ASICS combines this zero-party data with first-party data — such as purchase information gathered on their site — to get a 360-degree view of customers across all DTC channels and platforms. This data also allows ASICS to deliver one-to-one content experiences for customers logged into the website or mobile app, Koppala added.
Looping in Personal Shoppers
“Personalization powered by technology alone is not enough to engage shoppers anymore,” said Deanna Traa, CMO of Bold Commerce. “The brands that are most successful with their personalization efforts right now are those that are pairing technology with human connection.”
Technology is essential in determining what products customers interact with and suggesting other relevant items. The piece that’s missing from the algorithms, however, is the one-on-one interactions brands have with shoppers while in-store or via social communities, Traa added. Personalization efforts that blend online and offline experiences offer the deepest form of personalization shoppers can receive.
“Luxury menswear Harry Rosen gives shoppers the ability to connect with a personal shopping advisor while in-store or online, building the relationship through the customer journey,” Traas said.
“By directly communicating with shoppers and integrating data from their in-store and online experience, these shopping advisors curate recommendations for outfits that go beyond past purchasing or browsing behaviors and are based on lifestyle, fabric and color preference, location, upcoming life events and more. This initiative drove an increase in digital sales and created an emotional connection between the brand and the shopper.”
That human connection piece establishes a relationship that keeps customers coming back again and again, according to Traa. “Earning a customer’s loyalty should be the ultimate goal of personalization, it’s the key to turning a one-time buyer into a lifetime customer.”
Adding Experiential Loyalty
Some companies are adding “experiential” loyalty programs to provide better personalization for their best customers, said Tom Butta, Airship CMO, and Chief Strategy Officer.
“People aren’t just ‘eyeballs’ to be targeted by ads,” Butta said. “They want and expect mobile-enabled conveniences and personalized service. Smart brands will invest in loyalty programs, surveys, quizzes and QR codes to collect more customer information and use it to both personalize offers and lower advertising costs.
“Brands also strive to continuously make their app an indispensable companion in the real world. Innovate on being their digital concierge — enabling wayfinding, inventory checks, customer service chat, click-and-collect/curbside pickup, detailed product information, demos or digital extras.”
One company excelling in providing extras for its best customers is Home Depot, with its Pro Xtra Loyalty Program, according to Butta. Pro Xtra is Home Depot’s free loyalty program built just for “pros” (contractors), providing these customers with exclusive benefits to help them save time and money — all while getting rewarded.
Pro Xtra is even better on the app. Members can download the app to easily manage their benefits, access savings with Virtual ID at checkout, redeem offers and track spending toward earning Pro Xtra Perks. Pro Xtra benefits include: Purchase tracking, exclusive offers, volume pricing program, Pro Xtra paint rewards and Text2Confirm purchase authorization.
Related Article: Personalize at Scale With Modular Content
Personalization in marketing is here to stay. Yet customers are tired of the same tired strategies used by every brand. With innovative techniques, companies can meet customer expectations while propelling their growth.