Study: Authenticity Is Key For Personalized Customer Engagement

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Holiday shopping is expected to hit record numbers this year, and many brands are blending digital and in-store strategies to provide more personalized customer experiences that foster brand loyalty. 

As big data and marketing strategy shifts to accommodate online and in-store buyer journeys, they're still very different -- with challenges on both sides. However, when it comes to a truly personalized customer experience, online and in-store buyers both value the same thing: authenticity.

According to InMoment's 2017 Retail Trends Report, more than 50% of consumers value in-store interactions with friendly and knowledgeable staff. The study also found positive in-store interactions can raise customer satisfaction by 33% -- with higher rates reported in fashion and sports retail sectors.

On the other side, only 13% of consumers surveyed said they saw value in personalized online advertising, placing a higher importance on personalization during customer support interactions.

What customers want is authenticity. Just like big data helps marketers reach digital audiences, applying insights to in-store experiences can help create more seamless experiences for shoppers too.

For example -- say a retail store sends an exclusive in-store offer to their loyalty program members. When the shopper shows up to take advantage of the deal, a friendly sales associate with knowledge of the offer and the products is there to give them advice and show them how to make the most out of their deal. Since the shopper is part of the store's loyalty program, the sales associate can provide more targeted advice based on past purchases.

It's just like how targeting advertising works online. Big data can help pinpoint what types of suggested content to serve to consumers, based on past user habits.

This is where authenticity comes in.

Algorithms aren't perfect (yet?), and sometimes they'll serve up ads that may seem personalized, but really don't resonate with the consumer the way they're intended to (like when you're served an ad for something you just bought, for example.) What happens to the consumer? They're turned off by the ad, the same way an in-store customer would be turned off by a bad suggestion from a sales associate.

With holiday spending expected to crest $129 billion this year, it'll be interesting to see how digital and in-store sales fare against each other once the holiday rush is over, and how marketing leaders continue to fine-tune personalization into the New Year. 

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