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Personalization's Role in the Customer Experience

Lindsay McGettigan, VP, Digital Strategy

According to Gartner’s 2017 Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising, customer experience is one of the most vital strategies to support marketing outcomes over the next 18 months, and understandably so. Today’s consumers expect to receive marketing campaigns that feel relevant, individually-tailored, and anticipatory of their wants and needs.

At R2i, we believe that personalization is the key to cultivating an optimized customer experience that can deepen customer engagement, improve marketing campaign performance, and ultimately drive business results. For organizations concerned about driving leads and net new customers, personalization can maximize conversion potential by tailoring content and offers based on context and behavior. Brands that are more concerned with further down the funnel metrics such as loyalty, retention, and customer value can also rely on personalization to drive the one-to-one engagement and emotional connection that consumers crave. A strong personalization strategy can enhance the effectiveness of all digital marketing channels including websites, eCommerce portals, social newsfeeds, media campaigns, and mobile tactics.

BUILDING A PERSONALIZATION STRATEGY

An effective personalization strategy is built upon understanding target audiences during each stage of their decision-making process and creating content that helps move these customers through their buying journey. To get started with personalization, organizations need to tackle three fundamental elements:

While many organizations have developed a solid understanding of their audiences and personas, what truly enables personalization is the ability to create and deliver content that is timely, relevant, and ready to drive prospects to the next stage in their decision-making buyer journey. The end goal of a solid personalization strategy should be creating an optimal customer experience by tailoring content based on both context (knowledge about a user) and circumstances (behavioral and transactional data). When done right, personalization can go further and maximize conversions and improve marketing campaign performance.

What makes it difficult for marketers is that context and circumstances are not static variables—they will inevitably change. Whether you’re targeting millennial consumers or enterprise B2B buyers, the needs, motivations, and preferences of your customer are going to change over time as they enter different stages of their decision-making process.

By going through a customer journey mapping exercise, companies can improve their personalization tactics and ensure that they’re delivering thoughtful, quality content at the most appropriate and optimal moments of their customer’s journey to spur sales funnel velocity and demand generation.

START SMALL THEN BUILD

Many organizations are hesitant to embark on personalization due to perceived risks and confusion over where to begin. How businesses utilize personalization heavily depends on their level of marketing maturity—advanced and data-driven brands such as Amazon and Netflix execute more sophisticated forms of personalization such as leveraging cross-channel data to customize messaging and product offers in real-time based on acute customer behavior.

For small-to-medium sized businesses who are new to personalization, however, it’s wise to first complete other fundamental marketing initiatives (content strategy, persona creation, customer journey mapping) to build a foundation for success. This foundational groundwork helps organizations start small then build.

As a hypothetical example, let’s say you are a clothing company that releases a weekly email campaign around your seasonal product offerings. While you may be tempted to implement personalization across your website, social channels, and media campaigns, opt for a more disciplined approach. Start small then build—use existing content and data to optimize what you’re already doing by personalizing based on audience behavior.

After selecting a specific channel, in this case your email campaign, leverage analytics to understand audience engagement habits and then personalize tactics to align with those habits. In our example, you may find that the majority of your customers open your emails on Friday afternoons. A quick way to personalize this email campaign is to offer a discount for all in-store weekend purchases.

By beginning with the data, content, and offers you already have in place, brands can quickly improve campaign performance without requiring an advanced personalization engine and make measurable improvements to a specific channel before expanding to other marketing areas.

According to Gartner, “brands deploying targeted digital marketing saw as much as a 25% lift in qualified leads” and those offering location-based content saw up to a 30% increase. For these reasons alone, brands need to start thinking about how to make their marketing campaigns more personalized—no matter how small—in order to fulfill their customer’s growing expectations.


Today’s consumers expect to receive marketing campaigns that feel relevant, personalized, and anticipatory of their wants and needs, so personalization has become a vital component of effective digital marketing. R2i has proven experience developing and implementing personalization strategies that enhance websites, content, multi-channel marketing, social channels, media campaigns, and more.

Lindsay McGettigan

About the author: Lindsay McGettigan

As VP of Digital Strategy, Lindsay serves as the connective tissue between R2i’s Strategy, Analytics, Search, and Account teams to ensure that the appropriate digital tactics are being employed to meet client’s business goals at every stage of the customer lifecycle journey.

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