Personalisation is no longer a differentiator in retail. As competition increases, so does customer expectation of a more individualised experience. Our Digital Strategist, Clare Geehan, demonstrates the day-to-day leaders in creating personalised customer interactions and what we can learn from them.
At Made to Engage, we empower great organisations to deliver on the rising expectation of relevancy and individualism, wielding the powerful tool that is Episerver. If you're ready to create these personalised touchpoints that drive loyalty and conversions, get in touch.
In an omnichannel world where customers comfortably oscillate between physical and digital spaces, there’s a huge shift towards fully personalised experiences. It isn’t enough simply to personalise the mobile experience or physical experience in isolation; they need to work together for a brand experience to be successful.
At Made to Engage, we know the key to achieving this is to discover as much as we can about our customers – who they are, where they are and what their daily life looks like, and use that data to offer them a tailored, personalised experience that also embodies the brand’s values.
Our partner Episerver has created a digital agility model for businesses seeking to deliver more personalised experiences to their customers. How is your business doing when it comes to personalisation and what is the next step in your evolution?
If you’re at the ‘crawling’ stage, you’re probably online but not personalising your user experiences at all. If you’re ‘walking’, you’ve made a start on personalisation through simple tactics. For those ‘running’, you’re creating experiences that are much more relevant and individualised. The ones who are ‘flying’, you’re personalising your experiences so effectively that customers feel like the most important ones, whether they’re in store, online or lapsed.
Allow us to dive in a little deeper…
Personalisation started out as simple and obvious - to begin with it was just a nice touch. It simply delivered a friendly greeting, acknowledged the time of day and as it progressed, it could even remember your name.
“Good afternoon, Clare!”
Nowadays, customers have come to expect this when interacting with a business, and especially when doing anything with self-service or in retail.
But this expectation is growing.
I expect as a consumer that when I log into my ASOS account that they’ll greet me with my name and at the very least, my basic preferences are acknowledged based on my previous buying and browsing behaviour.
“Good evening Clare, here’s the latest recommendations in womenswear!”
As our retail habits have moved from a weekend leisurely activity to an anytime, anywhere capability, that personal touch that used to drive customers to physical stores can be achieved through personalising copy in a page or message based on previous interactions.
It’s simple, but most importantly, it is expected.
Understanding my gender preference and using my name is not the data I am referring to here. For a long time, marketing teams have been gathering and analysing data in order to segment their audiences and deliver more relevant products and content to them. This has been accelerated by technology and the capabilities given to us by smart, connected products. Due to the wide availability and depth of data offered by smart products, marketers are no longer limited to demographic or geographic targeting.
Episerver’s personalisation capability, for example, means that at Made to Engage we can help our clients to precisely tailor content to their customers on their first, second, third etc visit to their website. This applies whether the customer's focus is on a particular category of products or content, or have previously purchased, or have previously dropped off the site without converting and so on.
Having the capability to speak directly to multiple audiences at the same time is a position many online brands could only dream off a few years ago. Now it's the norm. Whether online or instore, we’re seeing data-driven personalisation everywhere we go. MAC Cosmetics is a great example of a brand that is successfully delivering engaged commerce by using information gathered online to enhance its in-store experience, then using that interaction in turn to create more value for customers and enhance the brand perception online.
I have an online profile with MAC Cosmetics, but more often than not, I’ll pop into the store on my way home from work to get what I need. You might think that would mean I’d be waiving my right to a data-driven personalised experience as they wouldn’t have my data in-store. But you’d be wrong. The in-store team can easily pull up my profile by taking my name and email address. They can tell me what I normally purchase (for those of us who forget what our favourite products are called).
And it doesn’t stop there. With this information in front of the business the opportunities for upselling and cross-selling are now available. They can now make recommendations of new products based on my purchasing history against other customers. Before I get home, my purchase history is updated, helping to shape a memorable online experience that continues in real-time.
Data-driven personalisation ramps up the effectiveness of market segmentation by lessening our reliance on assumptions and the risk of assuming so much that we get it wrong. With this approach, whether the customer is online or offline, the chance for businesses to increase their Average Order Value (AOV) and customer loyalty is enhanced.
This is where the most interesting stuff is happening with personalisation - yet it is probably the most subtle of the three levels. It’s where we use AI and automation to pick up the subtle nuances which can reveal who a user is and what will deliver the most value to them.
This is when you see ASOS “recommended for you” and “your fit” based on what you browse, buy and return compared to other customers. It’s Amazon’s “Customers who viewed this also viewed…”. It’s a Tesco delivery to your door and a substitute arriving based on what other customers bought.
But it can be more than that. It can be “window shopping” on New Look and seeing the items you added to that basket you abandoned displayed on your Facebook feed just minutes later or an email arriving in your inbox reminding you that you’ve left something behind.
And while in the last six months, New Look have made headlines with store closures across the UK and Ireland, their focus is shifting to improving the in-store experience (which, if you have ever been into a New Look store, often feels like a year-round sale and the disorganisation that comes with it) and expanding their online operations.
We can tell you that through implementing automated product recommendations across their ecommerce stores, New Look reported that their AOV increased by 67% (Episerver, 2018). Is their online experience too far removed from their instore experience? Perhaps! There could be an engaged commerce strategy to be developed there.
To wrap it up, here’s some stats that solidify the fact that there is no room not to make customers’ experiences personal, regardless of where they are – because they’re expecting it. You can start simple, but don’t stop there.