How to Deliver Personalized Brand Experiences
Delivering unique experiences to customers and prospects — whether someone is doing product research, shopping for themselves, or buying a gift for a friend — is complex but more than within reach.
Providing unique, relevant experiences to folks looking for your product shows you pay attention to their needs. And when a customer senses that a brand cares about them beyond the sale, value increases all around.
Successful brands not only require an elegant and intuitive shopping experience, but one contextualized for the customer’s specific goals and preferences. Achieving this, of course, requires careful planning and execution, with personalization playing a key role. After all, 71% of consumers told McKinsey & Company that they expect personalization, and 76% of consumers are frustrated when they don’t get it.
Yet businesses don’t always know how to achieve personalization successfully. To do it right, there are a lot of moving parts. Identifying and addressing each of those can be a challenge. Here, we’ve broken down the personalization process into easy, actionable steps to get your business started off on the right foot.
Setting the stage
Before beginning, businesses must prepare:
Define your goals and strategy
Before investing in software and technology, you need to define why you’re embarking on this project. What do you hope to get out of a personalization strategy not just this year, but in three, five, or seven years? You need to define your business goals and personalization strategy before you select the right tools.
Put your tools in place
Let’s assume you already have a commerce platform that can give you all the functionality you’ll need on the back end and that can grow with you as your business evolves and expands. On top of that, you need to integrate a leading content management system (CMS) into your site to give you maximum flexibility and control over the customer experience and requisite personalization tools.
Invest in resources to manage the process
Personalization is much more than just a technology project. It requires commitment, which means dedicated resources, establishing processes, and KPIs that measure efficacy.
Get organizational buy-in
Make sure senior decision makers within your organization are on board with personalizing the customer experience (CX). You’ll need to be sure your personalization strategy is aligned with your overall business goals, or you’ll never get this initiative off the ground.
Do customer research
Before you dive in, collect customer data. This should include:
- Demographic information (age, gender, location)
- Behavioral observations (browsing and buying habits, cross-channel tendencies)
- Psychographic details (interests, activities, opinions, attitudes, values)
- Demonstrated affinities and loyalties
Got all that in place? Great! Your foundation is complete, and you’re ready to start your personalization journey.
Create customer profiles, segments, and personas
The best foundation in the personalization process is knowing your customers, so be sure to create the profiles, personas, and segments you’d like to target. Sift through all the information you’ve gathered to date and find trends. (A customer data platform is a great tool for that intimidating task.) It’s how you begin developing personas and segments, which is crucial to mastering personalization. Once you’ve identified these different personas and segments, you increase your targeting accuracy so you can pinpoint what those groups are looking for from your brand. Accurate targeting will always maintain customer loyalty, a crucial benefit that businesses can’t afford to ignore.
Brand loyalty has changed as consumers have developed new habits and behaviors, especially post-pandemic. With greater reliance on digital channels comes greater willingness to explore and engage with more brands. While brands now have more opportunity to make an impression on consumers because of channel diversity, it’s important to deliver a memorable experience if you want audiences to stick around. These days, consumers are looking for trust, reliability, and brands making good on their promises. Some sobering numbers from our 2022 CX Report show that only 51% trust brands with their data, and 86% claim to receive marketing communications from brands without ever having opted in. Not a great look in both regards. To drive loyalty, brands need to prioritize the customer experience from delivering consistently meaningful digital experiences to protecting customer data.
Once your organization can target these different segments and personas, you can better deliver what they want.
Build a campaign to test a hypothesis
Now is the time to create a learning and testing agenda for your execution strategy. What are your hypotheses? What do you want to learn? What are your ultimate goals? Let’s build a testing campaign to answer those questions.
You can't do personalization well without good data. Good data means building customer profiles, understanding user characteristics and preferences, integrating marketing tech, and taking intelligent action.
True visibility into your customers requires building unique, holistic user profiles for each individual. The profile will constantly grow as data flows in from repeated site visits. A 360° customer profile also requires other components, such as user characteristics, like geolocation, device type, operating system, or new or returning visitor.
But behavioral data — understanding visitor preferences (specifically around which content they engage with most and like), which product they read most about, or which travel destination they research most often, for example — is that next level of insight needed for building a 360° customer profile that allows you deliver the most relevant experience possible to your users. (Again, we can’t stress enough the benefits of a CDP here.)
Test, test, and test again
With a campaign in place and hypotheses created, you’re ready to start testing. Options include A/B and multivariate testing or behavioral targeting, which is another great place to start. Both methods will allow you to start crafting the experience to each user in real time.
Just remember: You should test and measure every step of the way. The more tuned in you are to each step of this process and the customer journey, the more sophisticated your customer profiles will become. The more specific the customer profile, the better your ability to serve relevant content.
Refine your targeting
At this point, you’ve done a good amount of testing. You’ve collected loads of data and created a unified profile for each consumer. You know not only the primary personas who interact with your brand, but the individual customers, too.
You’re ready to start refining your process and getting really good at targeting customers with relevant content and offers. Now you want to revisit your learning and testing agenda to confirm or deny your initial hypotheses and then figure out what you want to learn next. Using the results of your initial hypotheses, consider what additional findings will help you refine and enhance your targeting and personalization.
For instance, multilingual personalization with Acquia Personalization is simple for the end user because it happens automatically. It’s also more scalable because it eliminates multiple steps in the personalization process. Any company outside of the United States or trying to reach a global audience should consider Acquia Personalization for website personalization, so they can communicate with their customers and prospects in any language.
This step isn’t rocket science, but it is crucial. You’ve spent all this time and money getting to know your customers, so you want to keep them hanging around for the long haul, right? So, take care of them! Nurture them like you would nurture a real relationship — that’s what you’re aiming for, after all. Take the time to make them feel like they each matter individually from every touchpoint across all channels, online and off. Target them with the right offers at the right time based on where they are in their individual customer lifecycle.
Repeat and expand
Think you’re ahead of the game? Think again! Just as soon as you make your way through this list, the market has changed. TIme to start all over again by redefining personas and repeating testing and targeting practices — but this time, you’ll be all the wiser.
Now is also the time to start expanding your personalization practices — uniting in-store and online personalization tactics, integrating social media, incorporating marketing automation — and to figure out what makes the most sense for your business. Those are the areas where you’ll want to expand your efforts. Remember, personalization isn’t only digital; it’s omnichannel and everywhere.
The secret to customer loyalty? Personalized, customer-centric experiences
At the end of the day, consumers know that brands have their data, and they expect that data to be respected and used for the right purpose: improving the customer experience with relevant, personalized content.
When brands don’t put the customer at the center — when they don’t understand the customer’s profile, preferences, and history with the brand — they risk breaking that customer’s trust and losing their loyalty. That runs counter to all your efforts here.
Acquia + Drupal = Personalization powerhouse
With so many personalization and optimization technologies out there, it can be challenging to understand how they work, what they actually do, and, perhaps most importantly, how to differentiate the lot.
But we’ve got the inside scoop on when it comes to Drupal and personalization. Combining Acquia Personalization with Drupal brings personalized digital experiences to life. We’d be happy to show you how it all works. Drop us a line, and we’ll show you the way