Most marketers are intimately familiar with the “insert first name” field. But knowing a customer’s name is not knowing the customer. Customers expect more than a personalized email in today’s digital, multiplatform environment. Much more.
According to a study commissioned by PwC and conducted by Forrester Consulting, 79% of survey marketers said customer personalization is very important to achieving their top marketing and customer experience goals, such as increasing customer satisfaction, building customer loyalty, and acquiring new customers. Seventy-one percent of survey respondents strongly agreed that it’s the proliferation of customer touch points that has led to increased customer expectations.
If dropping the customer’s name isn’t personalization, then what is? One word: context. Context is a combination of what customers have done, where they’ve done it, and with whom they have done it. Triangulating the actions, locations, and relationships of customers can provide marketers with the customized information they need to craft truly targeted messages and establish meaningful customer connections.
But according to PwC’s research, while nearly all firms said they personalize through email (87%), far fewer said they can personalize across new channels like mobile (51%) and social (62%). Only 38% of respondents said they believe they are optimized to deliver real-time offers and campaigns across all touch points. Less than half of firms said they use customer interaction and contextual data for personalization. Most of their efforts are general and segmented, not focused on the individual.
Marketers are struggling mightily with collecting and using personalized data to deliver the delightful experiences customers demand. The multitude of customer touch points is a challenge for three reasons:
1. Customer expectations are multiplying: Today’s customers expect to interact with companies when and where they want, using a device and channel that is most convenient for them at any given time. Customers have more choices than ever before. They expect a seamless experience across the board with brands. They don’t want to start over when switching between devices or platforms. Managing those increased expectations is the number one challenge to achieving personalization success today, at nearly 60%.
2. Channel silos create customer blind spots: The explosion in touch points also has created a wealth of new customer data that must be utilized properly, which creates challenges in both data management and privacy. For example, many marketers manage data in silos so that when a customer reads an email, searches on the website, and then calls the contact center, they do not realize the customer’s context and what the customer has done on other channels. Forty-eight percent of survey respondents said they are challenged to manage customer data, and 45% are challenged to use customer data effectively.
3. Too much information could creep out customers: When personalizing campaigns and offers using data, there can be a fine line between engaging and creepy or intrusive. Using too much customer information or information a customer doesn’t expect a company to have can create a very off-putting experience. Forty-eight percent of survey respondents say managing customer privacy concerns is a challenge to achieving personalization success.
Personalization is paramount for marketing success in the digital age, but many organizations are failing to meet customer expectations. Companies must employ a next-level personalization strategy. Such a strategy is cross-channel, using customer profiles, context, history, and behavior data to tailor experiences to a customer’s moment of need. To excel, organizations will need the right tools and data and will need to align marketing with IT and leverage service partners to optimize.
See what the Twitterverse is saying about personalization: