Marketing professionals almost universally acknowledge customer experience personalization as an essential element of any complete marketing strategy.
The universal appeal of customer experience personalization is easy to understand because so many of us have firsthand experience with the positives of personalization and the negatives associated with customer anonymity. We all are ultimately buyers, and we all know the difference between a positive and negative customer experience.
Today, customer experience personalization is more than a “nice-to-have” concept; it has become a requirement for selling success.
Nicole Bernier, of Aberdeen, explains this necessity in a recent Aberdeen blog. She says, “We’ve reached a new era of personalized customer experiences. Personalization is now integral to the customer journey. It’s a key driver of brand loyalty, and 96% of marketers believe that personalization helps to advance customer relationships.”
The key to harnessing the power of personalizing the customer experience is found in data—the data we collect during business transactions, website visits, inquiry messages received, support and technical communications and of course, demographics.
The Marketing Case for Customer Experience Personalization
If you are still a skeptic, consider these four pillars that support the case for personalization.
- Increased Revenue and Sales – Personalization makes the content offered and received by prospects and customers more relevant to their specific needs. Regardless of sales cycle phase, giving the prospect what they need to accomplish their goals is going to move them toward a decision faster and more decisively than anything else you can do.
- Increased Conversion Rates – By delivering content in context with the recipient’s persona and understood needs, you will be more likely to move that visitor to a qualified lead status faster and more consistently than simply allowing them to browse around randomly looking at large and diverse collections of white papers, product sheets and user stories.
- Customers Expect It – Prospects and customers, like the rest of us, have little time to sort through massive amounts of content in order to extract useful information, nor do they want to explain their needs several times as they move through a tree of contacts that call-reception systems offer. They expect to be “known” if they’ve done business with you, and they expect to be understood in terms of their needs if they are still prospects.
- Better Engagement – There is nothing better than knowing that the person you are communicating with “hears” and understands what your issue is. It doesn’t matter if the call is related to discussing a complex product, handling a complaint or unknotting a colossal billing or shipping error. Callers who confidently feel they are being understood will feel positive about the communication in which they are engaged.
Data Drives Personalization
Customer experience personalization strategies start with three specific elements rethat can be applied to everything from ad content to selling scripts and web content and organization of that content.
Your market may be tightly verticalized or broad and general in nature. Regardless, your communication and messaging must be conceived and aimed with precision based on the specific unique commonalities of that market.
This means segmenting your customer database and prospecting databases into groups that reflect common elements such as product type, production process, physical location, suppliers and supplies used, annual revenue, distribution channels such as direct versus indirect and any other descriptive element you can identify.
Beyond that, at the contact level, the audience needs to be segmented in terms of roles, titles and association with potential types of opportunities or transactions that occur between buyer and seller. Personal information related to specific contacts is useful as well.
The ability to collect, store, index and retrieve the data that defines these demographic values is essential. CRM, CPQ systems and marketing-automation systems will be useful in this regard, especially if support processes related to those systems are rigorously managed.
Match Content to Specific Audiences
The content Marketing produces must be closely matched to specific audiences, as defined by the demographic data maintained in CRM and customer information systems.
User stories should be segmented by market and other elements in which prospects can readily identify. Educational material for early cycle consumption should be focused on the prospect and the types of challenges they are facing.
Marketing automation tools can score and classify web visitors based on their demographic information, as well as behavior displayed while onsite. This data, in turn, is used to select and steer the visitor to other content that will have a high probability of appealing to them.
Expediting the Data Collection, Indexing and Mining Processes
All of this might sound like it requires a huge, complex and cumbersome process to facilitate—it really does not. Almost all CRM, marketing-automation and CPQ systems contain some AI-driven processes to automate the collection, indexing and mining of the data needed to facilitate the personalization strategy.
In many cases, the data, itself, is there; it simply needs to be accessed, mined and extracted to fulfill its potential as a valued resource in the personalization process.
Process changes may be needed to ensure that all of the required information is collected and documented within CRM systems and customer information systems. Web designers will need to organize menus and content delivery based on scoring and online behavior records collected during prospect visits.
Spread the Word: Treat Customers as Individuals
Individually, sales reps, customer support personnel and any outward-facing individuals will need to learn to think in terms of understanding and reacting to specific individuals as opposed to groups of individuals identified as customers with complaints, prospects having trouble making a decision or tire-kickers.
Customer experience personalization delivers an experience that is custom-designed for the prospect or buyer who engages with you and your company. You are likely demanding or expecting that level of quality interaction in your dealings with companies you engage with.
Always remember, the same level of quality is expected from your own customers, as well.