How to Personalize the Customer Experience At Scale

Businesses need to personalize customer experience at scale or get left behind. Customers are now used to customized experiences that match their interaction with brands and stores. How do you personalize at a high level for effective conversions? It depends on how you use today’s technology, not just in personalizing, but listening at scale. 

With AI, it’s now possible to gather and utilize data–beyond automatic name matches in emails–to delight and convert your audiences. 

Delight your customers

Local stores take pride in knowing their regulars. You are greeted by name, you are offered, “The usual,” and they offer you products you might like. If you liked nutty cakes, they’d offer you hazelnut coffee. If you liked cheesecakes, they’d offer you burrata pizza. If you liked sitting in the garden, they’d offer you a plant-filled nook in the winter. 

These personalized touches delight customers, and it’s applicable in today’s business, instantly, and every additional or repeated interaction would simply solidify your customer data. 

We expect it now. When we browse for shoes or clothes, we expect product recommendations and offers that match. Adding items to your cart might get you notifications about discounts and free shipping. Receiving your items would get you prompts for reviews and similar/relevant products. 

That is personalization at scale. 

The difference between personalization and personalization at scale is data. AI technology gathers data, makes sense of it all, and creates a complete picture of each customer to fuel your campaigns and intuitively customize experience according to customer behavior, searches, and preferences. 

Listen to your customers

Personalized messages and product recommendations used to be founded on clicks, landing page traffic, advertisement clicks, and sign-ups. 

Nothing wrong with that, but they’re stats you count toward your goals. It’s not really listening to your customers.

AI technology allows you to shift from goal-oriented to behavior-oriented data– or, customer listening–for more success in your campaigns. Without AI, you’re shooting arrows in the dark, trying to nudge your customers toward your goals. With AI, you have better data and more success in aligning prospect needs with your offers.  

  • A complete picture of each customer: AI helps make sense of data for a 360 degree view of your customer’s searches, preferences and interactions, cross-referenced with similar personas. 
  • Precise: Using AI, online retailers can address customers by name and make product recommendations beyond gender and geo-location, to include purchase history and other historical viewing/opting behavior.
  • Relevant and timely: With intelligent technology, your customers’ online behavior and interaction with your brand/store can trigger targeted messaging and matching landing pages. All with the right calls to action that resonate with your customers’ pain points at the right time. Relevant, timely, personalized messaging in the right channel (email, web, mobile push and SMS) generates 6% to 10% additional revenue
  • Content your customers need: AI provides insight on every individual customers’ previous interactions, preferences and needs in their entire buyer’s journey. Your content team can run A/B tests and build content based on what your leads are trying to find at every stage, and your sales team can use the same data to make every pitch tailored. 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they’re being understood

These are data that traditional customer profiling only guesses and doesn’t capture. All these combined means you deliver hyper-targeted, highly-contextualized communication for better chances of conversion every time. 

What to watch out for 

Personalization vs. privacy

There’s a fine line marketers toe to accommodate the privacy paradox. Messaging should never trample on ethical privacy fences, whether or not the GDPR applies to your business. For example, it’s bad form to send a personalized marketing campaign based on a customer’s medical needs. 

Disjointed messaging due to organizational silos

This is perhaps the biggest roadblock to AI’s potential. Your sales, marketing, and customer service/experience teams should sync so they in turn can sync their personalized messages and campaigns. It’s also essential for your organization to use the same tools to gather and update data real-time, both for department use and according to customer behavior. 

Disconnected channels 

Personalized marketing only works alongside omnichannel capabilities. Your teams and system apps/programs should be aligned for reliable and consistent service and delivery of relevant and personalized experiences across channels.  

Too much push messaging

All that fresh and dynamic data is tempting for marketers to roll out campaigns. But communication is a two-way street, and every outgoing message should also be an avenue for feedback. This shows humanity–treating your customers as humans with feelings and thoughts rather than as merely “transactions.” 79% of buyers  only consider brands that understand and care about them. 

Understand your customers

Personalization is systemic. Personalization at scale is possible and beneficial through the proper use of data, where your customers get a seamless customized experience from one department to the next, where you show them you understand why they’re there, what they’re looking for, and how you can help. 

Humans remain the drivers of marketing, and AI simply helps gather, analyze, process, and deliver data for strategy and personalized messaging, without human error and without the traditional building time. 

Sarah Cooper

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