People naturally ignore irrelevant messages. Even worse, they may find them annoying. Targeted communications that are relevant and useful can create lasting customer loyalty and drive revenue growth of 10 to 30 percent, according to a recent analysis.
McKinsey & Company researchers asked 60 shoppers to record their personalized interactions with different brands over two weeks. They listed a total of more than 2,000, providing some surprising insights into the kinds of personalized communications that work. Best practices include:
- Show consumers relevant recommendations they would not have thought of themselves as opposed to reminders of products they’ve already purchased or viewed.
- Send people messages when they are most likely to complete a purchase. That requires close examinations of behaviors, patterns and habits.
- Remind consumers of events and purchase ideas they want to know about but might not be keeping track of. That can include previously purchased items they may have run out of, desired items that are back in stock or on sale, or when a new style is launched for a product or category they previously purchased.
- Share the value in a way that’s meaningful to consumers. Personalize discounts and communications to loyal customers.
- Understand consumers’ personal interest and shopping patterns in both online and offline environments.
For many organizations, that last recommendation is particularly challenging. It requires collaboration between disparate areas of the organization, such as store operations, event managers, PR, digital marketing and analytics, and customer service.
Listen to Customers to Learn More
While data and advanced analytics play a crucial role in understanding shopping behavior, qualitative listening tools are also critical, the company states. Close monitoring of social media helps quickly identify and resolve potential problem areas.
Social media analytics allows brands customize content based on personalized experiences to customers. Marketers can enhance conversations, increase engagement and boost conversions. “Today’s consumers prioritize companies that seem authentic and trustworthy, and personalized marketing can provide that impression,” writes Hannah Sears.
Advanced personalization goes well beyond the [Insert Name] practice of placing the customer’s name on email messages. In direct marketing, personalized targeting can include information on shopping and purchase preferences, location, activities and interests of family members, age, health issues, recreational preferences, social attitudes, favorite colors and styles, hobbies and many other variables. The first key to successful personalization is assuring the accuracy of the assembled data; the second is accurate interpretation of how the data interact. A personalized offer of adult diapers to a cohort of 18 year olds simply won’t work, no matter how clever the creative and offer.
Some PR and communications experts predict that personalized messages will dominate a range of communications channels. “Mass communication and entry-level targeting won’t cut it for long. And consumers will expect personalization in more and more of their media,” says Shel Holtz, principal of Holtz Communications + Technology. “Even employee communicators should be thinking along these lines. Artificial Intelligence will increasingly become a preferred tool for helping get the right information to the right people at the right time.”
Personalized Public Relations
In public relations, personalization means sending journalists or other influencers individualized messages. That calls for PR to:
- Identify journalists, leading bloggers or other content producers who have recently written about the subject of your company’s press release/pitch.
- Become familiar with their previous articles, blog posts and social media posts.
- Learn what and who influences them, in other words what they read, share, and write about.
- Gather some personal information about them that might help you build a relationship.
In addition to determining the “beats” of journalists, ascertaining their personal interests and perspectives can certainly generate more personalized pitches and better coverage. Monitoring their social media accounts (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) can provide useful information about them.
Commenting on their blog posts, tweets and other social media communication in a non-promotional way can help establish long-term relationships.
Bottom Line: Personalized marketing strategies that are timely and relevant boost sales and create loyal customers. The key is to send the right message to the right person at the right time based on accurate data. Effective personalized marketing on a large scale is challenging, but is becoming easier with more powerful data collection and social media listening tools.