Personalisation of content is more crucial than most businesses realise. The key is to find the sweet spot where content and personalisation work together, leading to conversions.
A more recent example of personalisation is Netflix that built an empire based on a common challenge - finding something to watch without wasting too much time in searching. The streaming giant has a 90-second window to help subscribers find a TV show or movie before the latter give up and go away. Every artwork and title the subscriber sees on the Netflix feed is based on previous viewing patterns. Some of Netflix’s biggest competitors are Hulu, Amazon, Disney, among others.
Knowing full well that its competitors are equally equipped, Netflix is constantly working on tweaking and personalising its user experience to continue to be at the top of its game.
What is their primary strategy?
Hyper-personalised experience using customer analytics data.
Netflix knows that highly personalised content, when offered to potential customers by using proprietary data, is difficult for competitors to imitate.
Content personalisation is accepted as a key method of improving lead quality for marketers today. Targeted communication that is relevant and useful builds lasting customer loyalty and drives revenue growth. The fact that 72% of consumers will now only engage with personalised marketing messages goes to prove that improving marketing personalisation is seen as being so important.
#1 Data acquisition
The foundation of personalisation is the acquisition of user data. The truth of the current marketplace is that those with the best data capturing capabilities will win by an increasingly outsize margin.
There are many existing ways to pool visitor data, and it starts with leading visitors to engage with the content. To avoid data overhaul and to develop a long-term data strategy, data may be classified into two categories:
Quantitative data and qualitative data
Quantitative data is identified as numbers and values that are concrete and measurable. It may be the number of visitors on the website, total sign-ups, the amount of dwelling time visitors spend etc. Quantitative data is objective and measurable ,and its analysis gives a better understanding of the audience.
Qualitative data is descriptive in nature and helps to understand the underlying reasons and motives of visitors. Business product reviews, answers to survey questions, engaging conversations and feedback are examples of qualitative data. Qualitative data explains the "why" behind the quantitative data and helps form a strategy's foundation.
That includes identifying and assessing the value of existing data, designing a scalable data platform and developing a long-term data strategy to help the organisation achieve impact at scale.
There are several techniques to obtain both quantitative data and qualitative data for competitive advantage. One way to begin is by identifying the end-goal of data collection and determining the details that need to be collected. Then comes formulating a plan to collect and analyse continuous data. This requires using analytical tools that serve the business's purpose and may be synchronised to assess the value of existing and new data.
Here are some of the fundamental ways to obtain visitor data:
1. Surveys are one way to ask visitors for information directly. This is a specific and reliable way to gain both quantitative and qualitative data. Surveys may be conducted over social media, email, website pop-up or through a third party.
2. When someone visits a website, they create as many as 40 data points. Analysing this data gives insight such as the number of visits, dwelling time, most visited content. Various analytical tools can provide this information.
3. Transactional data gives valuable information about customers and business. An organised CRM is an excellent place to store all customer data from a web store or e-commerce sales system. This information gives insight into the popular products and services and how often people typically purchase those services.
4. Paid marketing campaigns offer valuable data about the number of times an ad is clicked, who clicked those ads, devices they used and more. This data helps re-target the customers, whether they are run on search engines, web pages, email or elsewhere.
5. Social media is another excellent source of data. Followers’ preferences, polls, comments and mentions may be monitored to harness data across different social media platforms.
6. Collecting subscription and registration data in return for providing information about themselves is a valuable stream of data. It may be acquiring basic information from site visitors that sign up for email lists, rewards programmes, links to download resources and more. The benefit of this method is that it offers leads that are already interested in the business and are likely to convert.
#2 Customer Segregation
The best way to comprehend the visitors’ interest is to cleverly funnel the call-to-action through different content assets on the website. Each asset explains and elaborates a different purpose of their visit. There are three possible influencing moments in the customer journey that lead to conversions:
1. Top of the funnel
If the visitors are at the top of the funnel, they will more likely respond to blog posts and articles that revolve around the brand's subject.
2. Middle of the funnel
Visitors in the middle of the funnel might respond to content such as white papers, case studies and other resources to understand the subject matter expertise.
3. Bottom of the funnel
Those at the bottom of the funnel will relate to content that focuses on the services and offerings.
Combining these unique interactions and customer journeys creates several micro-segments that makes personalisation even more specific. Using the traditional visitor data information and analysing the behavioural pattern and contextual data will uncover meaningful insights about the prospects' preferences, interests and needs.
Advances in technology, data and analytics have allowed businesses to create much more personal and “human” experiences for their customers. Here are some radical ways and examples every brand needs to stay ahead of the curve:
1. Targeting a specific demographic
Businesses that aspire to reach a greater demographic must consider the language barrier between them and their customers. Content localisation is an interesting way to translate well culturally. Multilingual content comes across as a genially personalised effort to reach a specific audience. This also helps boost local rankings by implementing localised URLs and meta descriptions.
When The New York Times identified that outside the U.S.A, South America and China bring the most traffic, they made their content available in the local language. This proved to be a surefire way to attract more traffic to its website and essentially eliminating the language barrier.
2. Address individuals
When consumers are segregated based on their demographic or personal information, businesses treat people as numbers. Even after the segmentation, it is essential to address them as if they are the only audience. Reaching out to previous customers through newsletters with special deals and offers has the potential to keep them coming back to the website and lead to new purchases.
Birchbox goes the extra mile by digging into their subscriber’s data to craft specific messages and recommendations that engage their audience. Some help with automation tools makes it possible to send hyper-personalised newsletters to the subscribers rather than just throwing a generic, wide-reaching newsletter their way that may not grasp their attention.
3. Personalisation based on real time
It is plausible to send content at a time when they will most likely check it to ensure that the audience will interact with the content. With the help of open-time data, businesses may move beyond traditional segmentation strategies when it comes to email marketing. They may also benefit from technology that identifies key data touch points and executes mailing in real-time by geo-targeting using IP detection to determine a subscriber’s location.
BustedTees did something similar by hyper-targeting the times at which it sent its email messages. This personalisation resulted in an 8% lift in email revenue overnight. The email response increased by 17%, click-through rates by 11% and post-click site engagement by 7.6%. This happened because marketing automation software uses a built-in time zone to schedule the email campaign based on the demographic to work around the readers’ schedule.
4. Personalisation for returning customers
An effective way to create an added layer of delight for returning customers is to personalise the home page when they visit the website. This is because the homepage and other key landing pages are the first touch points the audiences interact with. Since these customers have already signed up, it makes little sense to repeat call-to-actions for the same function. This may be swapped with the next funnel of interaction having another relevant touchpoint.
Payroll and accounting management brand Gusto does something interesting. When an unidentified visitor opens the website, they see the landing page with a headline, “It’s time to tame the chaos of payroll, benefits, and HR.”
After conversion, the visitor is given a warm welcome. The page trades off to say “Welcome back” and swaps the form fields from “Try 1 month free” to a “Sign in” button intuitively every time.
5. Giving voice to the customers
With the marketing overload, consumers have become increasingly sceptical about traditional advertising and marketing by companies. They also want to make purchase decisions largely independent of what companies tell them about products. Customers value opinions expressed by other customers - a sentiment businesses may use to amplify the reach of their content.
Involving the community to generate content for the brand works twofold. It offers indirect personalisation by giving voice and attention to satisfied customers and authentic opinions to potential customers.
After launching iPhone 6 in March 2015, Apple launched a campaign named #Shot-on-iPhone. The brand encouraged active community members to share their experiences, photos or videos with the said hashtag. They took it to another level by selecting images from different demographics and displaying these images on over 10,000 billboards around the world. The idea was to use these images to highlight the latest iPhone’s unmatched camera capabilities. The trigger was the overall customer dissatisfaction over the camera quality of the older editions. Apple not only handled the criticism well by offering visual proof of the photographic capability of their newer version but also kept customers’ personal experience at the centre of their campaign. Apple continued this campaign as it kept introducing new features and enhancing older ones in its latest versions. More than 15 million photos have been shared with the hashtag on Instagram alone to this day.
6. Product/Service recommendation
Product recommendations are cited as one of the most desired forms of personalisation by customers. The algorithms tap into users’ preferences and suggest products and services accordingly. With the help of predictive insights and intelligent automation, companies are seeing a leap in their ability to create opportunities and convert them. The tangible benefit is that it helps visitors make a decision easily and quickly, saving them from decision fatigue. It is also a psychologically compelling way to offer directional options, so the visitor settles on buying something from the multiple choices.
Driving sales from product recommendation has been the cornerstone for e-commerce giant Amazon. Product recommendation contributes to 44% of its sales. These recommendations show the customers products that are similar to what they are viewing, often purchased with the item they are viewing, display items that may be bundled with cart products, and emails emphasising offers on similar products.
7. Hyper-personalised approach through interaction
Understanding the pain points of customers at an individual level is a clever way of winning them. This may be achieved by helping visitors make a satisfactory decision by guiding them through questions and quizzes. This shows that a brand is willing to go the extra mile for their customer satisfaction.
Aveda is a well-known beauty brand with a significant online presence. One of the prominent features that Aveda offers is a quiz that allows customers to share specific challenges and those challenges are matched with Aveda’s products. Depending on the answers, the algorithm cross-references their response with 4 million possible combinations. Only then does it offer personalised product recommendations and treatments. This extensive personalisation is the foundation of their brand and loyal customer base.
8. Personalised testimonials for conversion
What makes it easy for a visitor to trust a brand instantly? By seeing that it is trusted by another brand that they already know and respect. Customer testimonials and logos on websites are conversion magnets. They improve conversion by establishing brand credibility and relatability. Showcasing the business to a client from their respective industry sets off a virtuous cycle of trust and a higher response rate.
Proof is one such brand that uses testimonials and exact use cases cleverly. On their Sign Up page, they feature a customer testimonial. Based on their identification of a customer in a certain audience, they swap out the testimonials for something relevant. For instance, they displayed a testimonial from Gustaf Alstromer, Former Growth at Airbnb, to their identified SaaS customers.
On the other hand, for their E-commerce customers, they switched the testimonial from Dave Williams, an E-commerce Marketer at WhitakerBrothers.com.
Keep it useful, not creepy
Customer expectations come with a lot of weight. Customers know what they want, and they expect to get it without being forced to make a decision. In light of repeated data privacy issues, customers are rightly concerned. To meet these demands, brands must create intensely personal and precisely curated communication experiences. Yet, at the same time, it’s wise to do it in a way that doesn’t feel overly invasive.
When reaching into a consumer’s personal space, more isn’t always better. Thoughtful businesses must go out of their way to convey that they take data privacy seriously by being transparent about how they handle data, limiting the processing of personal data, protecting data from anonymous third parties and granting customers the right to be aware of any changing policies.
As it may be observed by the variety of examples, developing a personalisation capability is a journey, but getting started is the hardest part. Given the potential impact of personalisation, it makes sense to take a test-and-learn approach. Start by identifying ways to gather data that will result in detailed customer segregation. Learn from the high-impact personalisation cases relevant to the business that are not too complex to execute. Decide the relevant ways to personalise and explore the right technology enablement that will be the core of this strategy.
Personalisation is becoming more pervasive and will be the prime driver of marketing success in the future. However, by acting today, companies may hope to be in a position to deliver value to their customers and generate profit.