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Personalisation is a top priority for marketers in 2016 according our global Digital Trends 2016 report.
Nearly one-third of survey respondents (31%) indicated that 'targeting and personalisation' was in their top three priorities for the coming year, more than any other digital-related area.
Another recent Econsultancy survey, however, revealed that only 8% of marketers in South-East Asia are doing anything more than 'basic' content personalisation for their email marketing.
Why do so many marketers see personalisation as a priority and so few spend significant resources on it?
To find out, Econsultancy invited dozens of client-side marketers from the equatorial entrepôt of Singapore to discuss CX at roundtable discussions on April 7th.
The roundtables covered three topics all related to CX and were moderated by subject matter experts from Econsultancy and our event sponsor IBM.
Delegates brought experiences from many different companies and industries and they openly discussed their success stories and challenges with the group.
Below is a summary of the main talking points taken from the Personalisation table.
Participants started by discussing the industry trends which are leading to the increased interest in and adoption of personalisation technology.
1. Competition for digital customers is increasing
Attendees noted that digital marketing strategies which used to work are now widely-used and, as a result, no longer as effective.
The ROI on simple segmentation has dropped significantly, one marketer reported, and so ecommerce sites are now using more sophisticated behavioural-based segments, such as 'brand loyalists' and 'impulse buyers'.
The inevitable next step, one participant argued, is providing personalisation to create 'segments of one' with the aim of providing a great, and unique, customer experience.
2. Organisations are becoming more customer-focused
The digital customer experience has traditionally been owned by marketing and driven by increasing conversions.
According to attendees, this is now changing. Departments such as branding and dedicated customer experience (CX) teams are starting to have more influence on the website and other digital touchpoints.
Because these departments are less conversion-driven, initiatives which improve qualitative metrics, such as personalisation, are enjoying a higher priority than they did previously.
3. CX technology is improving
Another reason why personalisation is receiving more attention now is that CX solutions are improving.
Participants noted that omnichannel marketing has been available for a few years now and online to offline (O2O) solutions are becoming more common.
For these solutions, marketers are integrating customer data which was previously siloed and managing marketing campaigns centrally.
This approach, which companies are now using to provide omnichannel and O2O, is ideal for providing personalisation.
This means that the technology barriers to entry are not as high as they were.
For those looking to get started with personalisation, participants had a few suggestions.
1. Focus on improving single touchpoints
One participant felt that their organisation tried to do too much personalisation at once. A better way is to look at individual channels and personalise the 'low-hanging fruit' first.
Making marketing more personal through programmes such as retargeting is one way to start. Email is probably next, attendees claimed, and then start looking at the call centre and the website.
What participants found challenging with some of the channels was integrating data from the CRM.
One participant felt that partnering with a bespoke CX provider, Jetlore in their case, helped collaboration between the teams who each 'owned' part of the customer data.
2. Have a 'personalisation plan'
Once you know what channels to address, then come up with a plan for what customer data you are going to use to personalise the channel.
Trying to use all the customer data at once is too difficult. Instead, start of with the name and perhaps an event such as a birthday or a relevant holiday.
From there you can start collecting behavioural (purchasing) and interest (browsing) data to improve your personalisation.
3. Make personalisation personal
Attendees also pointed out that personalisation does not have to be only something managed by databases and systems.
One participant said that they have improved customer experience by contacting engaged customers to find out about their experience.
Doing so broke down the 'digital barrier' between the company and the customer and provided an experience which could not be more personal.
This can be done on a larger scale with surveys and a reward which is, of course, designed specifically for them, personally.
Finally, attendees discussed some of the challenges they faced when trying to implement personalisation programmes.
1. Different customers have different roles
A participant from a B2B-focused company pointed out that they found it difficult to personalise as they had multiple customers from each organisation, and each one had a different role in the buying process.
Some of their customers are information-seekers whereas others are only interested in price.
One participant from a B2C ecommerce company agreed with this notion. In a B2C context, it is difficult to discern someone who was buying for themselves and someone who was buying for someone else.
Another attendee noted that this might be why recommendation engines struggle to provide meaningful recommendations.
2. Customer needs change over time
Another challenge marketers face when trying to provide a personalised service is that customer priorities change over time.
Addressing the customer by name is useful to get attention, but doing so again can be infuriating when they are frustrated.
Also, as providing personalisation often means prioritising information on the page, it is possible that you will be highlighting items which are totally irrelevant to them and hiding what they are looking for.
Marketers need to be aware of how customer needs change in order to provide a personalised service which delights rather than irritates the customer, said one participant.
3. Organisations have to address many issues to prevent roadblocks
Now that digital is being used to improve customer experience through initiatives such as personalisation, organisations have some new issues to address.
Participants mentioned a few questions that organisations have to answer before rolling out large-scale personalisation:
- How can the organisation manage 'send limits' of emails from different departments?
- Who gets priority on a personalised web page? Branding? Marketing? Sales?
- How is the organisation going to measure success an allocation budget?
Most felt that many of these issues haven't been discussed previously because everyone in digital was focused on one thing, conversions.
It seems that along with new opportunities to improve CX, personalisation will also require a lot more work from marketers.
A word of thanks
Econsultancy would like to thank all of the client-side marketers who participated on the day and our sponsor for the event, IBM.
We appreciate all of the helpful discussion points participants provided on the day and we hope to see you all at our upcoming Econsultancy events!