How to Develop Customer Use Cases for Personalization
Creating personalized experiences is a top priority for marketers today who are looking for those one-to-one customer connections. When done right, personalization in marketing makes customers feel recognized and valued and helps establish long-term trust and loyalty between brands and customers. In Acquia’s Customer Experience Trends Report, our research found that 41% of brands see more repeat purchases after launching personalization initiatives.
Clearly, developing a personalization strategy is a worthwhile investment. However, good personalization isn’t just serving up targeted content recommendations or customized banner ads. Businesses need to make sure their efforts are consistent and continuously align to the larger company vision.
To put it simply, the types of personalization use cases and approaches you use should also be personalized to your overall business model and your target customer. You need to create personalization use cases that address a specific “who,” “what,” and “where.”
We recommend businesses start by evaluating their own personalization goals by checking out Acquia’s crawl, walk, run model. This framework will help you identify the kinds of customer data and insights you should be gathering and how to apply these different types of personalized data to your own use cases.
Once you’ve got that solid foundation, creating a personalized customer journey map is as easy as filling in the “who,” “what,” and “where.”
1. The Who: Defining Valuable Segments for Personalization
Personalizing digital experiences requires companies to have visibility into their customer data and use that data to develop relevant customer insights. Ask yourself:
- Who is the audience you’re trying to personalize for?
- Is the audience size large enough to be statistically significant?
- What do you know about your audience?
- Have you developed robust customer personas?
Every single time your customers engage with your brand, whether that’s visiting a web page, registering for an event, making an in-store purchase or following your company on Twitter, they provide you with personalized data. Don’t let all that information go to waste! Solutions like a customer data platform (CDP) provide a centralized and unified customer database that delivers a total view of your customers in real time.
Working from 360-degree customer profiles gives you a solid foundation to develop your personalization segments. Customer segmentation can take many forms from identifying geolocation data, frequency of website visits, returning customers, etc. Some segmentation approaches include leveraging UTM codes to track website visits, tracking visitors by device type, or segmenting by marketing email lists of active versus inactive customers.
From here, tools like Acquia Personalization can apply this data and create as many segments as you want and present data based on those segments. This will give you a more in-depth look at customer behavior within each segment, giving you more robust data than what Google Analytics can provide on its own.
Often, we recommend focusing on high value segments, such as repeat customers or customers closest to conversion. Prioritizing these top customers and targeting them with VIP rewards, loyalty programs or exclusive offers, and messaging makes customers feel appreciated and understood. Personalized customer-centric experiences will boost customer retention and earn significantly more ROI for your brand in the long run than if you only focused on customer acquisition.
2. The What: Personalizing Content for Maximum Impact
Once you’ve defined the segments, the process of actually personalizing your content begins. Some common content personalization use cases to consider are:
- Geolocation: Do your product or service offerings vary by location? What about your customer service numbers? Is there a different message you'd send customers if they were from different countries or regions? What if they're visiting from outside your service area? Would your messaging change?
- Device: Would you serve up different content types if you knew your visitor was on a mobile phone? Is there an app you’d promote more if you knew the visitor was using a mobile device?
- Time/date of visit: Are weekend visitors interested in different content than weekday visitors? What about the time of day? Is there a different message during “open” hours versus “closed” hours?
- New/returning visitor: What information would you provide someone who's never visited your site? How would that differ if they’ve been to the site five times in the past month?
- Marketing campaign referral code: Can you leverage UTM codes from paid media, social media, or emails to create a connected cross-channel message?
Now you’re ready to progress to more complex personalization use cases. Begin with very broad segments (e.g., European visitors), then gradually create narrow segments by combining situational and behavioral patterns. Here are examples to help you contextualize the types of data you can leverage.
- Page views: Contextualize the site based on multiple views. If a visitor has looked at “awareness” content more than five times in 30 days, show them “conversion” content.
- Browsing behavior: Contextualize the site based on the types of pages someone has visited. If a visitor has looked at more B2B content than B2C content, highlight B2B content.
- Event-based/funnel-based CTAs: After a visitor takes an action (e.g., signing up for a newsletter or downloading an app), stop showing them that call-to-action (CTA). Instead, display an ask related to the next stage of the funnel, like registering for an event or webinar.
- Combine multiple early stage use cases: Create multidimensional personalizations that are targeted on two or more characteristics, such as geolocation and device type. For example, show European B2B cases studies to visitors from Europe who came in through a B2B pay-per-click (PPC) ad.
3. The Where: Selecting the Best Channels and Distribution Strategy for Personalization
After you’ve ideated three to five personalization use cases for each of your priority segments and identified the best content needed to execute each use case, determine the right distribution strategy for each personalization campaign. Important factors to consider include:
- Where do you intend to personalize? Does the use case make sense on the homepage of your website or a more specific landing page?
- When will the personalization take place? Will it run constantly or only for a period of time? Will it run all day or only certain hours of the day?
- How will you engage customers across multiple touches and channels? Will your personalization efforts extend beyond web to other media like email and SMS?
Now that you’ve created your personalization use cases, it's time to put them into action. A tool like Acquia Personalization makes it easy for users to create areas on their site called Slots, where they can configure and display different types of targeted content related to their personalization goals. We recommend testing a few content variations in each slot in order to analyze what your audiences engage with most. By running at least one A/B test a month, you’ll quickly gather results and be able to adjust and optimize your campaigns based on which generates the greatest ROI.
Clearly, the best personalization programs are a marathon, not a sprint. But by starting out with just a few solid use cases, like those suggested above, any business will be well on its way to building an established personalization strategy that resonates with customers beyond just a single visit.
For more tips and best practices for launching your own personalization program, download our e-book: You Know You Need to Personalize, Now What?