Analysis principles to develop personalisation

Michael Buckley explores the four key analysis principles to help develop personalisation.

michael buckley headshotThe quickly evolving digital economy has bred a new kind of consumer that holds every online brand interaction to a previously unseen calibre of expectation. Highly-informed, with the power to switch at any time, the digital customer expects online services to know exactly who they are and to deliver relevant offers at a time and place that suits them.

Despite this, many businesses are still operating according to outdated marketing principles that preach ‘the larger the audience, the bigger the sales’ – delivering product-driven campaigns and using a scatter-gun approach, despite the fact that relying on big budgets to translate into sales is no longer an effective strategy.

Market leaders are rapidly understanding, however, that marketing practices in the digital sphere need to mimic the way customers think: not in silos and channels, but in needs, desires and wants.

Forward-thinking organisations working to turn digital marketing into a competitive advantage are focused on developing personalised experiences, to be a cost-effective, long-term antidote to the traditional marketer’s trade-off between relevance and reach.

New customer expectations

Across all industries, customers have responded to the fast-paced, technology-enabled business landscape with expectations higher than ever before. They don’t think in terms of channels, and dismiss organisations that aren’t able to present their offerings accordingly. Loyalty is short-lived and the ability for brands to present themselves as being consistently available to individual consumer whims has never been more important, with the management of customer churn a priority issue within this.

Given the permeation of social and mobile technologies, however, this can be difficult during the different stages of the customer life cycle – especially the pre- and post-purchase validation points – which is radically enhanced by social media. This is an arena where brands have little control, but are increasingly able to influence and monitor customer perceptions via a tactical use of data and analytics.

In this sense, technology is a double-edged sword, as it both enables and hinders marketers. Mobile exemplifies this further: with most research indicating that at least three-quarters of smartphone users consult their phones while in a store deciding what to buy. This means that consumers have unprecedented access to information about the brands, products and services they desire – being completely informed about the purchase decisions they make. The process of comparing prices and offers is easy, making experience a key differentiator and consistency across touch points is non-negotiable.

The new marketer

The heightened expectations of the digital customer don’t just require ‘better’ marketing, but instead require a transformation of marketing capabilities and processes that place the customer at the centre.

Traditional marketing is product driven. It starts with an offer, and aims to tell as many people as possible about it in the hope that a few of those people may chase up the generic offer and make a purchase.

In contrast, new digitally enabled marketing methods reverse this thinking and become customer-centric, relying on identifying the most relevant products and experiences for each customer. Using analytics to focus on one-to-one interactions, driven by customer needs, the resulting insights can be leveraged, linking them to time-sensitive and context-aware actions.

The result is the right offer, at the right time, touch point and location; enabling marketers to turn the traditional customer funnel on its head by allowing organisations to attract, convert and retain each customer on an individual level.

Ultimately this one-to-one approach to marketing increases loyalty, marketing ROI, customer lifetime value, conversion and cross-sell rates, while decreasing acquisition cost, cost of post-purchase interactions, and the number of dedicated marketing staff.

Four key analysis principles

The foundation of a successful personalisation strategy isn’t all about capabilities. Personalisation is about understanding customers, not forcing an experience upon them, as well as aligning and enabling an organisation’s overall digital strategy. These key strategic principles are the starting point for personalisation.

1. Know your customer

First, you need to determine what matters most to your customers and work back to the technology required to enable the desired personalised experience. Use existing data and research and actively create deeper insights, including through the customer journey and experience mapping.

Be as granular as you can in your analysis to understand segments, habits, channels and motivations, but keep in mind that it’s important to ensure a fast closure of the analysis to action loop, as customer behaviours are never static, meaning complexity as developing experiences need to keep evolving. Repetition can lead to obsolescence, so activity cycles need to be perpetually refreshed and re-optimised.

2. Plan and set objectives

Don’t personalise for the sake of it. Effective planning and strategy is essential to ensure that the end goal is a personalisation experience in line with the specific needs of your organisation and industry. Aligning all personalisation capabilities with specific business objectives and goals is important, but so is measuring success. Benchmark your activities to establish baseline KPIs and future targets.

Alongside this, marketers need to rethink how their internal processes are organised and executed. Are there organisational silos that need to be cut through? How is time best utilised? Are activities fragmented across the business? Questions such as these will help guide practical delivery options that will support the personalisation agenda.

3. Choose and develop capabilities

Once you have defined exactly what kind of personalisation would provide the most value to your customer and serve the strategic needs of your organisation, the next step is selecting the technologies to support this.

With such a range of enabling capabilities at play, prioritisation based on business goals and customer intelligence is key, so it’s important to thoroughly analyse your existing (or planned) technology against future requirements to understand what you need to achieve success.

One of the most important elements is to also ensure there are sufficiently skilled internal teams that can utilise the technology. Linking the components of design to data, data to insight and insight to activity is incredibly important and solid skill sets will ensure this happens effectively.

4. Test, learn and scale up

Once your firm is successfully personalising the digital experience of customers, ensure that your systems, governance and business structure are designed to learn from every interaction.

The key to the ultimate success of any personalisation initiative relates to the dependency required on the successful binding of clear insights with compelling, creative content. Under the right context, when this combination of science and art fuses together, then true, high-performing personalisation can be achieved. But remember, at the core of this lies critical insight and analysis principles that prepare the ground for success.

 

Michael Buckley is Accenture Interactive lead for Australia and New Zealand.

 

Accenture Australia is a Marketing content partner – collaborations with leading organisations on content for the magazine (like this article) as well as exclusive benefits for Marketing Advantage Members. Click here for more information about membership