One of the most popular refrains from the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” is for Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road to reach the Wizard in the Emerald City. Today’s consumers are also receiving cryptic messages, but are empowered to select many different paths along their long, winding roads.
To meet these roving customers, marketers need to stop just offering another brick in the road, giving every customer the same place to “step.” Personalization makes content easier to find for consumers when it is useful and unique.
Consumers can see through superficial personalization, and they say it leaves them “jaded” (70 percent) and “numb” (63 percent), according to a 2013 Economist Intelligence Unit study. This means marketers must know the difference between Toto and Dorothy to avoid “mass market” personalization.
Today’s Customers Are Dorothy and Toto
The marketing of yesteryear is exactly like the beginning of The Wizard of Oz—a dull black-and-white where everyone sort of feels the same and the entire landscape looks the same. The advent of data analysis hit marketing like a tornado and plopped us down in the realm of bright, vibrant color.
The customer came along for the ride and has enjoyed the benefits of data so much they’ve moved beyond being just a simple Dorothy on a quest. Customers are now part Toto, always moving forward toward the goal, but taking lots of detours and running in a few circles as they move down the path.
Our goal as marketers is to be Glenda the Good Witch and give the customer exactly what they want before they fully know what they need: those ruby slippers. Glenda knew exactly how to give them and got the size perfectly right. How do you do that?
Know Your Kansas and Your Oz
The most important piece of knowledge Glenda had was who Dorothy was. Glenda gave Dorothy the ruby slippers after their introduction and initial information exchange; that’s the point you need to provide customers with the best product, offer, or service.
This personalization approach of what I call the “known customer” requires them to willingly give a little bit of information. Customers are proving more willing to do this, and marketers are finding it to be more successful.
Indeed, a study from Neolane and the Direct Marketing Association found that 68 percent of U.S. marketers plan to use more personalization because of its ability to deliver higher ROI and response rates. This is shifting to real-time efforts, and 77 percent of North American marketers categorize it as a high priority, according to the study.
To make this more effective, 45 percent of marketers say they need better data. Acquiring this comes down to giving customers a fair trade between content and personal information while using what’s already been given.
Your audience is more willing to trade if existing, basic-level personalization is smart enough to avoid products and services they’ve already decline. If your visitors tell you they’re in Oz, you’ll only upset them if you pitch goods for Kansas.
Getting Your Pretties
Meeting what the customer thinks he wants and pairing your offer to meet his need involves taking a page from the Wizard’s book. His final gift giving is the culmination of the three main steps for proper one-to-one personalization:
• Understand your customer: Ask for information, watch the,m and strike up a conversation. Constantly engaging means you know what your consumer is looking for, what they have, and what they need—not what you think they need. Know if they’re looking for a heart, brain, courage, or just a faster way to go home.
• Design the customer journey across channels: To help your customers move through your funnel, you need to define the journey and the potential roads your customer can take. Think of this as laying down the golden bricks to give your customer a guiding road. Focus on creating a consistent, relevant, and easy customer journey.
• Act in real time: The big secret to the Wizard’s ability is to act at the moment of truth—in his case, it’s when everyone would believe him. Delivery requires understanding where the customers are in their journeys at this very instant and serving up the right offer to the right audience at the right time.
Luckily, marketers don’t have to use the Wizard’s sorcery to succeed. Cross-channel campaign management technology can provide insight into knowing your audience and turning that data into action across the customer journey.
This is just the first step on our journey down the yellow brick road of personalization. As we head to the Emerald City, we’ll dive deeper into the three personalization aspects mentioned above.