Running Mates: Big Data and Personalization

Personalization is a hot term for marketers lately. Everyone wants to be able to provide a custom tailored experience for each of their customers. This is achievable with some good data and application of available personalization tools. However, it is challenging to implement, and even more difficult to perfect.

86% of consumers — and 96% of retailers — said personalization has at least some impact on the purchasing decision, according to a study from Infosys. The study also found that almost one third (31%) of consumers wanted more personalization in their shopping experiences. (Retail Touchpoints)

What was once seen as a "creepy" marketing tactic, tech-savvy consumers are warming up to the idea of trading some personal information for a more personal and efficient online shopping experience. They are even more open to this practice when the retailer is transparent about how the information is used, and permission is requested.

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Personalization involves the use of customer information to deliver a customized online experience based on that information. The goal is to provide content that is most relevant to any given customer. This promotes a closer relationship, easier experience and, ideally, increased sales and brand loyalty.

Building our Foundation with Big Data!

Creating a personalization campaign requires a solid grasp on your data. In terms of retail, think about customer profiles, demographics, purchase history, browsing history, social media data, etc. Organization and segmentation of this data is what will power the personalized experiences that you can create.

The chart below illustrates what information retailers are most commonly collecting, and what data they are lacking.

Screen-Shot-customer data - yes lifecycle marketing survey

Source: 2015 Retailer Survey, Yes Lifecycle Marketing

According to the above chart, many retailers are collecting the basic information that can help them develop personalized experiences. Contact information is, of course, a must. Yet, one third of retailers surveyed don't have customers' phone numbers, and almost half don't have their emails. Purchase history is a great piece of information to have, and you see it ranked highly in the chart. With that, you can identify potential new products that may interest a customer, and also use that as a source to suggest products that may accompany what they've already purchased.

The Personal Touch our Nation Needs!

The next step is taking this data and applying it to personalized campaigns. Personalization can be applied to multiple touchpoints for your customers.

Examples of personalization:

  • Email campaigns can be built around particular attributes and tendencies within your customer database. You could identify female customers who purchased running sneakers in the last month, and email a coupon along with related product offerings like running shorts, socks, or track pants.
  • Once you have the capability, your site can monitor your visitors browsing history, and display particular content on the homepage whenever they return to guide them towards content and products that will most likely interest them. The customers in the above example would land on the site, but women's running apparel would highlighted.
  • Similarly, you can use retargeting campaigns to place ads that will follow your visitors to other websites. These ads will contain relevant content based on the visitor's purchase or browsing history, and drive them back to those areas of your site.
  • Direct mail can be tailored in the same way. Rather than generic coupons and special offers, segment your customer database and create different pieces of mail to be sent to different customer groups based on their profiles and shopping history. Again, a woman who purchased running sneakers could be alerted to an upcoming sale on new sneakers or apparel. You could schedule this mailing to be sent when the average runner needs to replace their sneakers.

The benefit of personalization is something that consumers are beginning to expect from retailers. No one wants a mailbox or inbox full of offers that don't apply to them. And it's certainly convenient to have a website greet you with relevant content that you don't have to search for.

Here's one last chart to show you why consumers are more willing to share their personal information with retailers.

personalization survey yes lifecycle marketing

Source: 2015 Retailer Survey, Yes Lifecycle Marketing

Expectations from shoppers are high. Companies that embrace their data and unlock its power will increase revenue opportunities and build brand loyalty.