When Data Is Not Enough, Personalization is Key

Despite the fact that marketers may be having some success in the technology stack, they appear to be losing the customer experience battle by a wide margin. According to new research made available this week from the CMO Council, according to a recent poll, almost half of marketers – 42 percent – believe that the “marquee” brands are pulling ahead of them when it comes to nurturing relationships with consumers. More concerning is the third of respondents who admitted to occasionally forgetting that the targets are people, not merely dots on a screen, and 41 percent further admitted that maintaining relationships posed a challenge.

Even though mastering the flow of data into marketing campaigns and beyond seems is of utmost importance in an increasingly digitized space, marketers are leaving the human touch by the wayside. The result is consumers who believe brands no longer care about them, incentivizing them to look elsewhere. The outcomes could be disastrous for bottom lines and brand loyalty. A dissatisfied consumer can find another brand in a quick Google search or in a strategically-placed ad on Instagram, and will be gone forever.

Big brands have already picked up on this “customer obsessed” perspective, and the all-star brands, such as Google, Starbucks, Apple, and others have jumped on the CX bandwagon and have left others behind, with the gap ever widening. If smaller brands fail to keep up, then will simply fail survive. So what is a struggling, out of touch marketer to do?

DMN posted a piece on customer experience earlier this week, and the term “CX” is being bandied about as a buzzword, but the concept remains: constantly improving customer experience is a must. To ignore it is to sign a brand’s death sentence.

The way of doing this is simple: customization and personalization. Consumers want to be known. In spite of being one person in over seven billion, individual consumers want to feel that something is being offered exclusively to them. Hubspot has a recent blog post on creative ways brands are building loyalty, and one example leaps out: Dominos customers now have the ability to order pizza by texting a pizza emoji to their local Dominos. Millennials, who hate talking on the phone, but love pizza, feel that this solution is tailor-made for them on an individual level, because it considers their needs.

Another method of improving customer experience is through AI, which has made leaps and bounds in mimicking relationships. AIs have the ability not only to “chat” with consumers, but can remember and recall everything about every interaction with every consumer. Marketers can use this information to get to know what kinds of consumers have what specific needs. Far from taking random shots in the dark, marketers can create a context based on interactions and make informed decisions that reflect their understanding of who the customer is and what he or she wants.

Automation, of course, allows marketers to target segments and create more sophisticated campaigns, but if marketers fail to derive insights from the data they collect, then it may be the same as doing nothing at all. The purpose of automation is to free up time to focus on relationships without endlessly fiddling with a CRM, scraping and cleaning data, and guesswork. This frees up time for marketers to understand consumers and build relationships that will last beyond a single purchase. Just a five percent retention rate results in a 25 percent increase in bottom line. Time to know how James likes his vodka martinis.        

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