Personalisation these days is no longer a way to stand out, it’s an imperative. As psychologist, Barry Schwartz explains in his 2004 book “The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less,” guiding consumer choices can contribute to shoppers’ happiness and increase it.
An Accenture study carried out in 2016 showed that 2 in 5 online consumers have abandoned a retailer’s website due to the astounding choice of options. Interestingly, the same study also contains a warning sign for companies adopting personalisation: irrelevant recommendations may be even worse than choice overload.
Our partners at Future Thinking have some top tips to help brands and retailers win the conversion battle and close the gap between browsing and purchase, which includes ensuring mobile apps are efficient, responsive, sleek and highly personalised.
In this article, we offer myths and tips about the process of integrating personalisation into the customer journey to offer inspiration and insight to both companies already pursuing personalisation, and those still contemplating the shift.
Myth #1: Personalisation is not for my company.
According to a recent study, while 73% of C-level executives believe that personalisation should be a bigger priority in their organisation than it currently is, 45% indicate that they do not have plans to implement digital personalisation within the next year. Among the key reasons for avoidance is the perception that it would be expensive or difficult… and B2B companies are especially resistant to change.
Kaloyan Stefanov, Director of Data Analytics at GemSeek explains that while B2B organisations have traditionally strived to have a good understanding of their clients and employed some degree of personalisation, relying on experienced account managers for the process is unscalable, and insufficient. Bringing together automation and data technology is the winning strategy to ensure customer loyalty and higher wallet share in the long term.
In 2016 GemSeek partnered with one of the largest global logistics companies. The company had over sixty thousand B2B clients in just one of their key regions. They wanted their customers to spend more, but had a hard time distinguishing among them. The company would blast out messages to their whole customer base hoping to upsell, only to see their marketing spending drained and their customers leaving. To rectify this we built a predictive model to help our partners discover who are the most likely clients to buy and pinpointed the types of services most likely to interest them.
The impact of this relatively small project was felt across the account management, marketing and sales departments within the organisation, and it cost less than the lifetime value of a single customer. Even the least optimistic estimations of a 2-5% uplift make a project like this well worth it!
Myth #2: You can’t personalise without owning tons of customer data.
Personalisation – whether in real time or close to the moment of truth – requires customer data, absolutely. Ideally, when you have data on your customers’ demographics, behaviour, past purchases and so on, you would know what products and channels they are using, and have an easier time leveraging your offering in a way that addresses their preferences. However, companies with little or insufficient data should not despair. Obtaining longitudinal data on customers especially in the B2C space (and particularly ‘offline’ retail and wholesale) is a massive challenge throughout the industry, with companies knowing little about their end-customers unless issues arise.
Stefanov argues this shouldn’t stop organisations from exploring how to introduce personalisation into their customer journey. He says “Investment isn’t huge, so those who have data should use it and those who don’t have it should at least map parts of the customer journey.”
Our partner, operating in logistics that we mentioned earlier, did not have access to detailed profiles of their customers either, but with the help of skillful data mining and third-party sources it didn’t take long to fill this gap. You can do a lot with the data already available, or data that needs minor manipulation and tabulation to become available. Starting small – with the available data for one channel, one location, one or two segments – is the way to ensure the success of your personalisation project and avoid the risk of burning out or running out of money and support.
Myth #3: You can find an ‘out-of-the-box’ tool to run your personalisation efforts.
Many organisations end up convinced that personalisation does not have value, because they fall into the trap of buying expensive software and expecting it to magically bring results. No tool is going to work perfectly out of the box. The analytics models a company needs are business-specific and determined by the data sets the company has access to. This is why at GemSeek we develop smart IT solutions tailored to the specific needs of each business and the desired results which our partners deploy gradually.
Last year GemSeek partnered with one of the leading sports goods companies to build a customer experience program based on personalisation. Despite the retailers’ frequent lack of longitudinal customer data, our data scientists used internal, as well as external sources, and built an advanced micro segmentation model that helped the company become much more accurate at targeting segments with the propositions that are most likely to excite them. What’s more – the company was able to use the insights to transform its space allocation in physical stores and make changes beyond the point of sale moments with its customers.
Lovely as it would be, a software cannot do the work a whole company needs to be involved in. The successful personalisation of customer experience requires a change of the culture and mindset of the whole organisation. Showing employees why personalisation matters, and paying attention to the whole customer journey, including marketing and advertising, is just as important as having accurate, actionable insights to drive your personalisation efforts.
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Ben Kunz, VP of Marketing at MediaAssociates famously professed that “Google will know that you are hungry for sushi before you do,” but Google is far from the only contestant in the marathon to personalisation. Faced with this rapidly growing trend and the changes in user behaviour that it triggers, companies which are not already adapting or preparing to switch gears, may hit the wall and never reach the finish line.