Online transactions are notoriously impulse driven. As consumer touchpoints become increasingly digital, brands need their digital marketing and ecommerce functions to build connections with potential customers almost instantly.

When battling to stand out in a hotly contested space, having the ability to cut through the noise with relevant, targeted interactions is invaluable. The key to unlocking these interactions? Personalisation.

This is by no means a groundbreaking discovery – last year’s Conversion Rate Optimization Report from Econsultancy found that 93% of companies are seeing an uplift in conversion rates when using personalisation. It is easy to see, therefore, why marketers continue to embrace it in almost all areas of their practice

However, to take this aspect of their marketing activity to the next level, companies must begin to build a more thorough understanding of their customer’s state of mind throughout digital transactions. The faster companies turn these insights into action, the faster they will grow into successful customer-centric organisations.

In this piece, I’ll examine how marketers can use psychological principles to better understand how consumers think when they buy, and use it to apply a ‘human touch’ in their campaigns.

The psychology of the sale

At a superficial level, personalised marketing often enables minor improvements to the overall customer experience, which translate into small but tangible purchases and results. In many cases though, an issue emerges in the types of data that marketers use to inform their activations — basing critical decisions purely on what customers buy only paints half the picture.

While this insight is extremely useful, you can risk ignoring the mindset that customers are in when they buy. It is common knowledge among marketing professionals that consumers are intrinsically unpredictable.

In fact, a recent study by Clicktale discovered that three quarters (76%) of big data professionals agree that consumers are fundamentally irrational when they shop. Because of this, insight sourced purely from past purchases will not be accurate enough to deliver meaningful conversion.

It is here we see how examining ‘digital body language’, as Liraz Margalit, Web Psychologist at Clicktale phrases it, plays a role in building a detailed picture of the customer journey. Through exploring the demands, behaviours and moods that customers exhibit as they move through the platform, brands can personalise experiences much more effectively.

Digital marketers can capture this through measuring digital gestures and micro-signals made by customers, including mouse moves, scrolls, taps, and zooms. By drawing enough of this data through a variety of use cases, patterns will emerge that can help build out an understanding of digital psychology.

High street retailers have always embraced this element of psychology. In-store assistants will adjust their approach to a customer who is visibly frustrated compared to one that appears happy to browse. With new research from PwC highlighting that shops are currently disappearing from the British high street at a rate of 14 per day, creating a more human experience will be vital to ensure a high level of customer service is maintained.

Capturing and examining this data is just one part of a successful approach to personalised marketing. The second and arguably more vital aspect is applying insight through a dynamic, experimentation process.

Graphic depicting a high street with boarded up shop fronts, tumbleweed blowing down the street.
With high street shops closing down at an alarming rate, creating a human experience for customers is more important than ever.

The culture of personalisation

Whilst the majority marketers continue to adopt personalisation in part, most struggle to scale initiatives across all of their activity. Failing to create a consistent virtual experience will ultimately damage brand perception.

Budget and technology constraints are often blamed for failures in this area, however it regularly comes down to a cultural issue. The real challenge is to transform the marketing department’s processes in order to unlock the full potential of personalisation.

Marketers have traditionally carried out their key activations based on a rigid, planned calendar. Where many marketing departments get stuck is in shifting away from this into the more fluid world of customer-generated signals.

To make this change, teams must be far more dynamic and able to react to dramatic shifts in consumer demand. This can be achieved by building a small, agile team with sufficient IT, analytics, creative and project management skills built in.

Alternatively, many businesses are empowering employees outside the marketing department with the tools and training to implement meaningful change through evidence-based testing. Whichever approach is taken, the key is having the technological ability to adapt swiftly, coupled with cultural support throughout the organisation.

Ultimately, to build “digital body language” as a core dataset in your marketing arsenal, businesses must first ensure they have the infrastructure to support it.

The key to deploying this lies in getting to know the customer beyond just what they are buying and being able to apply this knowledge quickly and dynamically. This is where the most successful organisations will set themselves apart.

Learn more

For more on applying customer data to create a personalised customer experience, download Econsultancy’s The Customer Data Imperative report.