So, the question then becomes: What does a customer-centric personalization strategy actually look like in 2022?
Until recently, personalization took the form of segmentation. That is, brands treated shoppers as a cohort with a shared set of similar tastes and behaviors. In some cases, these strategies will get the personalization right — think recommending dining room chairs to go with a recent kitchen table purchase. But in other cases, segmentation will miss the mark. After all, wide swathes of consumers can only have so much in common.
Today, personalization needs to account for individual consumer behaviors and unique user journeys. Consumers are mandating personalized experiences. In a recent Adobe survey, 70% of consumers now say the ideal level of website personalization is 1:1.
Real personalization requires brands to invest in AI and automation to unpack the 360-degree view of each consumer and use it to deliver the right message to the right customer at exactly the right time.
The level of sophistication necessary to meet this 1:1 mandate can only happen when the right data is served up to reveal each customer’s unique buying habits, preferences, and behaviors. For this reason, the secret to deeper experience personalization starts with understanding that it is largely a data collection and management problem.
With this in mind, here are three preliminary steps your organization can take to move past segmentation and into true, 1:1 personalization.
1. Aim for a 360-Degree View of Your Customer
The first step to building a modern personalization strategy is to address current data practices within the organization. In my interactions with clients across the retail landscape, I often see detrimental data silos creating gaps between critical platforms. To generate the insights necessary for true personalization, brands need to unify commerce, marketing, and business intelligence data into a singular, adaptable platform. This step will not only give you a comprehensive view of your customers, but you’ll also be better equipped to interpret and act on that data.
2. Focus on Deploying the Right Customer Engagement Channels
This step is important for two reasons. First and foremost, access to your brand in the channels customers prefer is a crucial way to create more meaningful engagements. It all goes back to the marketing holy grail: delivering the right message in the right moment. Access to your customers through a variety of channels increases the likelihood that your brand can synchronize offers, coupons, and product recommendations in real-time when your brand and products are top-of-mind.
Secondly, each new channel serves as a valuable source of consumer behavior, which can help sharpen the insights your marketing, sales, and service teams use to meet customer needs. In an increasingly complex retail environment, it’s absolutely vital that retailers map out the winding journeys of their customers—where they conduct research, how they’re feeling about your brand across that journey, and what ultimately drives a purchase decision. Understanding how customers navigate channel proliferation is a key component of a personalization strategy that keeps up with customer preferences.
3. Integrate AI Tools That Can Bring It All Together
Of course, the right channels and the right insights aren’t worth very much if they can’t deliver the experiences customers are looking for. Think about where your brand could benefit most from smart automation? For many organizations, automation can help customers navigate their buying journeys more efficiently. Integrating self-service experiences, such as chatbots, can help streamline the web experience and support faster movement to the products and services your customers seek. Similarly, a marketing automation platform can ensure messages and offers are customized and timely.
Wherever you decide your organization can benefit most from automation today, be careful to select tools and technologies that can be integrated seamlessly within your existing tech stack. Even better, choose tools that leverage an open API infrastructure, which will allow you to adapt more easily on the fly over time.
If these seem like daunting decisions, consider partnering with an expert in these types of solutions. An experienced CX consultant or partner can help make these important decisions on your behalf — simplifying the transformation process and delivering powerful 1:1 customer experiences.
Remember, in 2022, customers mandate these types of experiences. If you want to be the brand customers associate with their last best experience, personalization is one piece of the customer experience you can’t afford to get wrong.
—Brian Lannan, VP of Retail Experience, Avtex