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Personalisation: engaging with your customers and creating long-term loyalty

When many marketers think of personalisation their eyes become misty with nostalgia, as they recall the heady days of personalised digital print – and being able to print the recipient’s name in the salutation line on direct mail shots.

But in the intervening years, not only has the digital space emerged, but big data can also now be structured to interact with your website visitors in a way that provides a truly personal, tailored relationship.

Technology-driven user engagement

Personalisation requires the development of a clear profile of each customer who visits your website and this profile then interacts with data layering technology and low latency interactive systems to create a seamless, personalised user experience.

But what are these things, and what do they do?

Well, it’s a fair question with a simple answer: these technologies are designed to deliver a personalised user experience that helps users feel engaged, guided and above all, valued as they browse your website.

For example, data layering simply means data is stored in a series of layers. Each specific layer of this data will interact with the user in a way that is appropriate to the user’s actions, such as offering guidance, or alternative or comparable products as the user moves around the page.

How does it feel?

This behind-the-scenes layered data is backed by low latency technology, which is simply there to give customers a perception of real time responses, where interactivity is instant, helpful and personal.

So what does this feel like for the user?

Well, if you visit a target site through natural search terms, and start comparing prices there, then you will most likely receive an offer of something like free gift wrap or similar to mitigate your perceived price consciousness.

Or imagine the site you are browsing detects that you don’t understand how to navigate it effectively or place an order, so points you to a site map to help find what you want, or FAQs for the checkout and sale procedure.

And this technology can also detect users who are hesitant, due to online buying inexperience or advanced age, and can offer alternative sales channels, such as offering a hard copy direct mail catalogue or bricks and mortar (B&M) outlet locations.

The way personalisation interacts with your online customers is as flexible as you need it to be. It’s practically limitless.

Look in the direction of travel

This highly interactive personalisation is great for customer engagement and long-term loyalty. It can increase sales significantly and optimise revenue streams across your desktop, mobile and tablet channels.

But without a clear and cohesive marketing strategy, personalisation is pointless.

To achieve optimum performance from a personalisation programme, you must plan your communications strategy carefully.

That is to say, you need to know what you want to say before you start, because once you start, there’s no turning back. You are committed.

A strategy for success

Building a personalisation strategy will mean understanding exactly what your customers – whether B2C or B2B – want. There are a number of ways to do this but robust, accurate insights into customer needs and behaviours are critical to prevent sub-optimal engagement outcomes.

In most cases, incentivised website user surveys are the best option, and these can be supplemented by commercially available research reports. These two routes, combined with your own website user analysis almost invariably offers a very clear insight.

And if you use these insights to develop a cohesive personalisation strategy, and tie this in with a fully integrated marketing automation programme, your customer engagement performance will deliver revenue uplift with robust, long-term loyalty.

To achieve optimum performance from a personalisation programme, you must plan your communications strategy carefully.

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