Eight pillars to power personalisation

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Steps to help you understand the benefits of personalisation.

In the age of the customer, merchants both online and offline are focusing on a common theme: how can I provide the best customer experience? To achieve the desired level of customer experience, one of the methods we turn to is personalisation.

Everyone is unique. We like different food, drink, clothes, entertainment and we take different types of holidays. Customers, regardless of industry sectors, prefer a personal touch when dealing with an organisation or a member of staff from that organisation, making the consumer feel like an individual, rather than another shopper. So why try to tarnish everyone with the same brush?

Here we have a few steps to help you understand the benefits of personalisation and the steps to take to personalise your system. The way organisations interact with customers in the digital world will progress quickly and introducing personalisation could lead to significant advantages over others.

1. Create a single customer view

Creating a 'single customer view' is essential to power any kind of personalisation and should certainly be the first port of call when tackling a personalisation strategy. Armed with a single view, only then can we delve into the data to check and review the quality of the information we have on users. Having good data will produce more accurate services, systems, trends, recommendations and analytics.

This aggregated and holistic representation of data gives organisations the power to better analyse past behaviours to personalise future customer interactions via the methods explored.

2. Start small

Focus on small, tactical, measurable wins and work up to full-scale personalisation as a long-term target. Submitting names to email addresses, storing past searches and adding wish lists are good steps to work towards search results manipulation, recommendations and fully personalised communication.

Once the foundations are in place, particularly in terms of the data and the way that it is handled and managed, an organisation can then explore the more complex elements of a personalisation programme armed with prior knowledge of previous interactions. A successful personalisation system takes time.

3. Empower sales and marketing teams

If the system can only be used by the IT team, the system will unlikely benefit the organisation and it will not generate the desired results. Sales and marketing teams need to have end-to-end input on all aspects of a personalisation programme. Friction within internal departments and teams are commonplace within all organisations but this sort of friction needs to be overcome for a system as such to prosper. The teams that gain the biggest benefit from the system should have the ability to use it and lead it.

4. Omnichannel focus

Whether you are looking at email, CRM, call centre, e-commerce, websites, mobile or social, your communication should be consistent. If a client sees an offer in an email, they should be able to see it online, if they then call the call centre, that same offer should be accessible to the consultant dealing with the call.

Map out every single touch point with your customers and integrate all messages and offers. Consistency is key because customers are more informed and more connected than ever.

5. Measure success

Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be clearly defined and measurable before any personalisation project begins. Whether it‘s monitoring how much time clients spend browsing a site, reviewing product feedback, measuring new versus retained clients or any other business KPIs.

The objectives set are usually determined by the overall business objectives that then get filtered down to departments for more tactical reporting. Selecting the right KPIs will also depend on industry and which part of the organisation is being tracked for what purpose.

6. Ensure content quality

One way personalisation often fails is with poor content. As recommendations become more specific, you need to ensure that there is a consistent quality of content being delivered to users. Personalisation cannot be achieved without content. Just as personalised content cannot be deployed without good quality data. This book focuses on the data and systems side of personalisation. Content is altogether a separate subject that also needs exploring.

7. Understand your clients

Start by building up personal profiles for existing and potential target customers. What are you selling? Who is buying what from you? How often do they buy from you and why? Match every message with the right people and channel.

There are many ways to determine who your customers are. We recommend you begin by creating reliable and realistic representations - through personas - of your key audience segments for reference. These representations should be based on qualitative and quantitative user research and web analytics.

8. Automate where possible

Having an automated personalisation system enables your marketing to grow across multiple channels, reduce cost and generate insights that will be difficult for humans to gather and maintain. Automation can create closer links between your marketing campaigns, web, CRM and other systems helping provide a single customer view.

Automation is the long-term goal of a personalisation system. It considers all aspects of a marketing team’s remit. It will target the right audience, then build engagement as a managed conversation over time, maximising conversions and then learn from analytics via technology relative to an organisation’s goals.

Richard Baker is founder at Sequence

For more on personalisation, and to request your copy of the Powering Personalisation guide, please contact Richard Baker directly at Richard.baker@sequence.co.uk.

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