We’ve all had that moment when we have been talking about something with a friend and a few days later it appears on our screen – suddenly we’re convinced our tech is listening to us. It’s not a feeling that brands want to evoke in their customers.
People are becoming more and more aware of how their data is being used and how their purchases and behaviours are being tracked. Personalisation is a fantastic tool, and it can benefit everyone involved, but customers don’t want to feel monitored by their favourite brands.
So how can you personalise without being creepy? It’s a delicate balance, but when you find that sweet spot of personalisation, you’ll definitely see the results.
This probably goes without saying, but ensure you’re only collecting relevant information with which to personalise communications, the information fundamental to your work.
The user has to be able to understand what the information could be used for and why you’re asking a question. If you start asking irrelevant questions that are too personal, you will alienate your customer and lose their trust.
Not everything is useful to play back to the customer, and there are ways of doing it too. Take an anniversary message, for example. It’s not just ‘hi, you signed up 12 months ago’ it’s ‘how have the last 12 months been?’
You can leverage data collected about your customer to demonstrate that you value their custom and reward them for it with offers. This takes the pressure off the ‘big brother’ feeling where customers may feel they are being tracked and watched.
There is a lot of sensitivity surrounding customer data, however, from a technology point of view, the more data we have, the better customer experience we can offer. Customers want the best, relevant personalised experience, but understandably are wary of providing their data. This is why it’s important to personalise relevant data that will provide a better customer experience rather than using all the data you have about a customer because you can.
Ultimately, it’s about providing something interesting and useful to the customer, not just playing back their purchases for the sake of it. Always keep the customer in mind and at the heart of anything that you are trying to achieve. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and identify what type of personalisation you would like to see and experience, and what may send you over the edge and make you paranoid.
The ultimate goal should be to keep customers engaged with the content and feel that relevance and connection with the communications being sent. Signing up is the first step to the relationship and we then hold their hand through their customer journey delivering the correct personalised content at the right time, so customers feel valued resulting in hitting those important KPIs.
Respect people’s boundaries. Make sure there’s an opt out option and honour that, should someone make that choice. If someone isn’t receptive, know when to draw the line and remove someone from the email list etc. Build a preference centre allowing customers to opt in and out of certain types of communications so they feel they have control.
Analyse customer behaviour and conduct test and learn sprints. If there is a milestone communication which leverages personal data, you may want to consider testing to a small percentage of the base first over a few months. This will help you to analyse the behaviour and how well it was received before deploying to the full base.
Be transparent at every stage. If you explain what’s happening and why, then customers will be more receptive. There are benefits for the customer, as you know, so be sure to communicate that to them. Focus on that.
Personalisation can benefit the relationship between customer and brand. It can bring them closer together and there are all important rewards to reap. But there needs to be a strategic approach, not just content that ties in with a data grab.
This article was first published by PerformanceIN, October 2021.