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The Ultimate Guide to the Art and Science of Personalization

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Phani Madhav Chegu,

June 7, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to the Art and Science of Personalization

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The customer of the 21st century wants companies to fully tailor their solutions to meet his specific requirements with high efficacy. According to the report Customer Engagement 2022, published by Salesforce, 73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.

Against this backdrop, organizations are coming up with strategies to deliver hyper-personalized customer experiences to delight each of their clients. A well-formulated personalization strategy goes a long way in enhancing conversion rates significantly, besides helping reduce client acquisition expenditures in a big way. A recent report revealed 86% of marketers believe effective personalization has a profound impact on their relationships with customers.

Today, we’ll examine the aspects you need to consider to develop a robust plan to personalize customer experiences. We’ll also look at various approaches to personalization and the factors you must take into account to ensure seamless customer journeys across diverse channels, perfectly customized for each of your clientele. Let’s begin.

How to Develop a Robust Plan to Personalize Customer Experiences?

You can formulate a very effective plan to deliver highly personalized experiences to your clients, by following the steps listed below.

Step 1: Set Clear Objectives of the Personalization Initiative

This is the most important (and unfortunately, the most neglected) aspect of developing a good personalization plan. You must link the objectives of the initiative to the wider goals of your business. While it’s true no two businesses are alike, here are a few objectives that are relevant to any organization.

  • Maximizing conversion rates
  • Lowering client acquisition costs
  • Driving downloads of content resources
  • Increasing the number of repeating customers
  • Minimizing bounce rates and abandonment of carts
  • Reducing service costs
  • Delivering better Client Lifetime Value (CLV)

You also need to define the right metrics that allow you to measure the progress made in achieving the objectives.

Step 2: Build Your Team

The number of people needed to make your personalization initiative a success is a function of the number of channels you wish to engage customers with and the size of your organization. Typically, in larger companies, more people across teams are involved in setting goals, formulating strategies, creating campaigns and various other tasks performed as part of the personalization program.

Over the last few years, several firms have set up dedicated offices to manage personalization activities and facilitate hassle-free coordination of efforts. The offices play a key role in developing and scaling up personalization programs, ensure accountability and get the necessary approvals.

Step 3: Conduct a Thorough Assessment of Customer Channels

Prepare a comprehensive list of all the channels that you’d use to connect with customers. You need to make sure you deliver consistent, personalized customer experiences, across all the channels. You may want to begin by personalizing experiences in some channels, and later, proceed to others. Your decision must be guided by your priorities and the personalization approach you follow.

Even if you intend to implement personalization only in a few channels, ensure you also gather data from other touchpoints. The data will go a long way in presenting highly relevant experiences, in a timely manner. More about data in a moment.

Step 4: Identify the Right Sources of Data

Good data plays a key role in ensuring the success of a personalization initiative. Personalization of customer experiences based on high-quality data that is accurate, timely, comprehensive, centrally-located, easy to obtain and actionable is bound to delight clients. Conversely, when you leverage inaccurate, incomplete or obsolete data, the initiative is most likely to fail, as it results in poor targeting and communication.

You can use various types of data such as the following to implement your personalization program with high efficacy.

  • Behavioral Data: This includes all information about a client’s current and previous digital activities (including e-mails opened and clicked, pages viewed, time spent on various digital resources such as websites, social media networks and other engagement parameters)
  • Attribute Data: Attribute data describes the characteristics of a customer such as his geolocation, company he works for, the browser and the type of device used by him.
  • Zero-party and First-party Data: This data can be collected through responses to forms and surveys and is very helpful in complementing behavioral and attribute data.
  • Third-party Data: You can get third-party data from various external sources. It primarily comprises demographic and firmographic information.

Remember, your efforts to collect data must be transparent and not violate the privacy of your clients.

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Let’s now proceed to look at various methods of personalization.

Methods of Personalization

After you develop a solid plan to personalize customer experiences, you need to zero-in on the right method to put your plan into action. There are two widely used methods to customize customer journeys viz. rule-based method and machine-learning method. Let’s now examine them.

Rule-based Method

Rules are a key element of a vast majority of personalization programs. Rule-enabled personalization allows marketing professionals to deliver personalized experiences to segments of customers (pre-defined groups of clients). The criteria for defining a segment of customers can be broad-based (for example, people belonging to a particular city) or quite focused (for instance, people from the targeted industrial sector who haven’t downloaded a specific e-book and spent more than 90 seconds reading a particular article on the website).

The rule-based method is ideal for:

  • Targeting customers on the basis of location
  • Executing persona-based marketing campaigns
  • Implementing Account-based Marketing (ABM)
  • Delivering segment-based communication

Machine Learning Method

Machine learning, an AI-powered paradigm, leverages algorithms and predictive analytical capabilities to select and show the most relevant content, offers and recommendations to deliver a high-quality, complete personalized experiences instantaneously. One of the biggest advantages of using machine learning for personalization is you can scale up delivery of tailored customer experiences seamlessly, with minimal expenditure.

The machine learning method is very useful for:

  • Providing product and content recommendations in real time
  • Suggesting the next best course of action
  • Delivering 1-to-1 messages and experiences
  • Enabling continuous optimization of customer experiences

So far, we’ve seen the steps involved in the development of a personalization plan. We also looked at two popular methods to personalize customer experiences. We’ll now move on to examine how we can personalize experiences across all channels with high efficacy.

How to Personalize Omni-channel Customer Experiences?

Many marketers believe it can be quite challenging to effectively personalize interactions with clients across all channels, and rightly so. However, when you approach personalization in phases, it will be less overwhelming. Given below are the 3 phases of a proven process that allows you to personalize customer experiences very effectively, in a gradual, incremental manner.

Phase 1: Begin the Personalization Journey with Your Website

Your organization’s website is the most important element of your digital marketing activities; the website serves as your online shopfront and the place where most customer interactions take place. Prospective clients make a decision about doing business with your company after they visit your website. The pivotal role played by the website in attracting new business makes it the ideal starting point of your personalization journey.

A vital aspect of personalizing your website is ensuring the page a returning visitor sees is relevant to his last purchase or activity. You also need to see the product recommendations you make to a new visitor are based on his in-session browsing activities.

Phase 2: Connect Website Experiences with E-mail Messages

The next phase of personalization is connecting a customer’s website experience and his e-mail experience. Connecting the two critical customer engagement channels is a major step in achieving your goal of omni-channel personalization.

After a customer leaves your website or makes a purchase, make sure to send a properly-timed and super-relevant follow-up e-mail; this will go a long way in forging a strong relationship with him and enhance the customer’s lifetime value significantly.

Phase 3: Deliver Personalized Experiences Across All Channels

The final step is to personalize customer interactions across every channel; you must be able to deliver consistent, well-personalized experiences no matter how a client connects with you — visiting your store, sending an e-mail, commenting on your social media handle or even ringing up your sales rep.

Most clients expect companies to resume interactions from the point where they left. This can be a daunting task, especially when customer data is spread across multiple siloed departments. Your personalization initiative must provide fully-connected, delightful experiences by ensuring effective processing and synthesis of information collected from different channels by creating a unified customer profile for each client.

Remember, this is not the end of your personalization journey. You need to perform comprehensive tests at regular intervals to find out how customer experiences can be customized even better. As an eminent marketer once remarked, the quest to satisfy clients is eternal.

Thus, you can see personalization is the answer for growing demands of customers to deliver experiences perfectly-tailored to their unique needs and challenges. At Solunus, we help you unleash the power of cutting-edge technologies to provide seamless, fully-customized experiences to your clientele. Our rich experience gained serving companies of all sizes in diverse industries coupled with our proven ‘needs-first’ approach enables us to make your personalization program a grand success.

Hope you liked this post. How do you deliver personalized experiences to your clients? We’d love to know.

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About Solunus

Solunus is a leading Salesforce consulting company, based in Dallas, TX, USA. Our proven ‘needs-first’ approach coupled with our unrivaled expertise of the Salesforce platform enables us to provide the perfect solution to help you deliver delightful services to customers and achieve rapid growth.