8 Steps To Personalisation — A Practical Guide
Your organisation has the desire. You’re excited to start making a big impact. But where exactly do you begin?
With the advancement of technology in recent years, there really is no barrier to providing personalised experiences to the right customer, with the right message, at the right time.
What’s more, today you can now ensure this experience is delivered to preferred channels and reaching audiences at scale. However, despite the technology being available there is often inertia within the marketing or digital team on how to get the most out of the new technology.
This article aims to help provide some practical advice on how to get started on your personalisation journey and ensure you can deliver real business value, while accumulating the most benefit from the technology investment.
1. Getting started
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of starting to personalise a specific customer experience simply because you can. A better approach is to take a step back and start by considering your organisation’s key business goals. What are the big challenges that your organisation is facing? Some typical business examples here are how to grow online sales, increase share of wallet or reduce cost to serve.
Considering the business aspects that could be impacted from your personalisation efforts will ensure that you are focused on the right areas. What’s more, this will increase the business appetite to reinvest funds back into the program as your successes start delivering returns.
2. It all starts with customers
Once you have a good grasp of your business priorities and what you are trying to achieve, the question moves on to how? The answer here will always be your customers.
Who are the most important group of customers that relate to your business problem or opportunity? For instance, if your key business challenge is focused on reducing customer churn, who are the groups of customers with the highest churn rates? To grow online sales, is there a particular audience segment that is underperforming and could be significantly impacted by a personalised experience? Or, instead, is the greater opportunity to drive incremental revenue from your most loyal, best performing customers?
By prioritising audiences by value and profitability, you can identify the customer segment where you should start your personalisation efforts.
3. Customer Empathy
Once you’ve identified your customer segment, it’s time to get to know them better. Start to create a 360-degree view of the customer. Leverage any insights you have on their online behaviour. If you are focusing on improving online sales, build up a picture of their current behaviour, from high volume entry pages through to the purchase funnel. Are there particular pages with high engagement or alternatively a high drop off that point to a potential pain point? Look at the page from the customers perspective.
Based on what you already know about the customer, think critically about what the data is showing. Is there other data available, such as transactional, service or even Net Promoter Score data that can help explain their behaviour? Look for different ways to meet your customers and talk to them about their decision making process, their pain points, and what would help make their experiences better. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
4. Focus on the Customer Experience
Bring together all the different areas of your organisation that interact with your customer segment and chart out the end-to-end cross channel customer experience. This should include all the marketing and operational touchpoints, plus any other teams across the business that touch the customer. Document the current customer journey for your first segment at each stage of the purchase funnel, from consideration to advocacy. Some questions to answer at this stage are:
- What tasks are they trying to achieve?
- What do they need to help them complete the task?
- What do they think and feel at each stage?
- What are their pain points?
- What are their preferred channels?
5. Opportunities for Personalisation
By considering each stage of the customer journey through the eyes of a particular customer segment, or persona, you may be surprised by how many of their needs or pain points have not been considered. Start to capture these ideas on how personalisation can improve their experience and drive business value.
Now, consider what information you have available that will help you personalise or contextualise the experience at the key stages in the customer journey. For example, identify what remarketing opportunities there are based on their specific behaviour. Discover where they are in the customer journey, then what stage personalisation will have the biggest impact. Explore the channels they are situated on and the different types of content that will be needed to move them to the next stage.
It’s important to capture all of the different ideas for personalisation that come from the customer journey exercise. At this stage, these can simply be ideas on post-it notes for each phase of the customer journey.
Repeat the customer journey exercise for all different customer segments to generate more opportunities for personalisation. Like step 2, prioritisation is now your biggest challenge so try to keep it simple.
A simple task like classifying each opportunity against effort and reward as high, medium and low T-shirt sizes can go a long way towards understanding the relative merits of different opportunities. Using a graph where effort is plotted against reward will help you quickly realise the low effort & high reward opportunities. What’s more, you’ll know where to start and gauge some longer-term higher effort & high reward opportunities.
For each prioritised opportunity you can now start to create a new personalised experience and test it against the existing, or control experience on your site or channel. You’ll need to define the audience and how you’ll measure success as well as develop the personalised content.
7. Start small and iterate
Put your personalisation journey into action. Test the minimum viable versions of an improved or new customer experience against your priority audiences. It is a much better approach to make several small personalisation tests, learn what has potential and iterate, rather than one big test that takes months to develop and may not have the impact you expected. By starting small you’ll move faster and learn more, but remember to keep iterating based on what you learn.
8. Build for scale
While it’s possible to start manually crafting personalised experiences for a variety of customer segments, it will soon become increasingly difficult to scale without the right technology in place. A priority should be having a common data platform across all channels and campaigns from the start, including a centralised content repository, customer data and offer management engine.
As your personalisation efforts ramp up over time, you’ll also want to review and streamline your campaign preparation and processes and leverage templates wherever possible to drive repeatability.
These are exciting times to be involved in digital marketing, where we have the power to give customers personalised experiences. Marketers are able to understand the aspirations and goals of their audiences, which in turn helps them deliver a brand experience that is simple and intuitive.
The size of this opportunity can be daunting. I hope you find the advice here helpful in providing practical recommendations on starting or improving on the journey towards customer personalisation. Prioritise. Test. Learn. Enjoy.