In my opinion: true personalisation is critical to your business, says SmartFocus

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Anthony Wilkey, regional director, account management group, SmartFocus, on why personalisation matters to consumers and the business benefits it brings

True personalisation is more than just customising a promotional email or newsletter with each customer’s first name; it’s about creating unique experiences for each and every customer.  In today’s relentlessly competitive marketplaces, knowing what your customers want and promoting your products in the right way, with the right context and at the right time has never been more important.

Due to increased use and awareness, many businesses are starting to understand what personalisation is and how powerful the technology can be. The question however, is why is it so important?

It makes you more money

E-commerce managers and marketers who implement website personalisation see a significant return-on-investment, by promoting products and offers that are meaningful and relevant to their customers. Recent research by Econsultancy found that businesses that use personalisation technologies are seeing an average uplift of 19% in sales[1]. In addition, 59% of marketers[2] reported that their personalisation strategies are delivering a good return on their investment.

But the benefits don’t stop here.

With personalisation, businesses are able to automate the manual elements of their merchandising strategy, freeing up valuable time for marketers, merchandisers and other members of the team. This enables e-commerce and marketing teams to concentrate on their customers and what they know about them so that they can execute more successful campaigns that build long-lasting relationships, not to mention saving precious employee time and increasing productivity.

Businesses that truly personalise their online interactions create better customer experiences and build stronger customer relationships that lead to long-term loyalty; increasing their customers’ lifetime value. All of this in turn, creates further opportunities for businesses to increase profits.

Your customers expect it

Customers, now more than ever, expect relevant experiences. With so many different touch points for interactions, smooth and consistent experiences are expected across multiple channels, whether it’s via web, mobile, in-store or the call centre. Businesses require a holistic view of the interactions they have with their customers – a central database of customer preferences and behaviour.

Research reveals that 84% of customers[3] would no longer buy from a certain organisation if it failed to acknowledge their preferences and purchasing history. In addition, 50% of customers[4] would be more likely to use a retailer again if they were presented with offers and information that were relevant to their preferences.  With such high statistics, providing personalised offers are no longer an option – it’s now a technology requirement to help meet and exceed customer expectations, whilst encouraging loyalty and longevity.

Personalisation creates a more fluid brand experience. By presenting more relevant information to users, brands can create smoother, simpler experiences that guide customers through their products and information by remembering each customer’s interests and adapting to these interactions in real-time.

Your competitors are already doing it

The good news is: a massive 94% of businesses[5] agree that personalisation is considered critical to the future and current success. With this in mind, there’s a great chance that competitors have a personalisation strategy in place. It is therefore key for marketers to keep pace and work from the same toolkit, rather than risk the chances of dissatisfied shoppers going to a competitor’s site, where the experience is more personalised, more enjoyable and most importantly – more relevant.

E-commerce managers and marketers are always trying to do more with less – overcoming lean budgets, IT and technology barriers to get ahead. With the need to differentiate their business’ offering through service, improving customer experience is high on the agenda. Those who aren’t yet using personalisation shouldn’t resort to lower-impact methods that won’t help them achieve their goals. Instead, they need to build a true personalisation strategy that meets their current and future needs to ensure they keep their customers happy and purchasing from their site.

Not doing it is a risk

It is clear that businesses that don’t attempt to personalise their interactions aren’t just missing out on sales and revenue – they are at risk of losing customers for life. Currently, the average cost of losing a customer is at £147[6]. Multiply this a few times and it could equate to great financial loss. Businesses that are unable to provide a personalised experience risk frustrating their customers, resulting in a significant profit loss.

Whilst the adoption of personalisation technology is growing, businesses need to be forward-thinking to keep pace with their customers, and ahead of their competitors. It is the job of the marketing team to bring the personal element to their customers’ online shopping experiences, providing them with the right content, in the right context and at the right time. With personalisation, customers will feel like they are getting the same experience as if they were in-store with an expert personal shopper, ensuring the business has every possible chance to win, keep and grow their customers.

Sources:

[1] The Realities of Online Personalisation, Econsultancy, April 2013

[2] The Realities of Online Personalisation, Econsultancy, April 2013

[3] Multi-channel consumers penalise companies who can’t turn consumer data into customer insight, Experian Marketing Services

[4] Retail Loyalty and the Consumer, SAS/Conlumino, September 2013

[5] The Realities of Online Personalisation, Econsultancy, April 2013

[6] Retaining Customers, Kissmetrics

Contact details:

Email: contact@smartfocus.com

Tel: +44 (0)20 7554 4500

Web: http://www.smartfocus.com/

(A Retail Times’ sponsored article)