Creating a personalized experience for their customers is something that many brands consider the most important goal of their data-driven marketing strategy.
You do not have to look far to find evidence to understand this desire. A survey published by eMarketer says 82% of marketers have experienced an increase in open rates, 75% have seen higher email click through rate and 56% have witnessed an increase in sales by using personalization. One example from VentureBeat documents a retailer who reported a massive 103% lift in revenue when comparing a personalized email to a control email.
Better still, customers claim to enjoy it when brands can demonstrate better knowledge of them and their behavior. Digital Marketing Magazine report that 62% of respondents buy more (and/or more often) when met with personalized retail experiences, while a further 27% actively look for personalized offers when shopping online. Moreover, 75% log in to e-commerce websites that cater for their personal preferences based on previous behavior.
That is not to say there are no obstacles to creating bespoke experiences for customers. For an organization to personalize content, it’s going to need personal data, tracked behaviors and the means to collect all the data in a structured way that can be used effectively.
Through 3rd party data sources marketers can append their customer database to create rich, complete profiles of customer demographics and by collecting clickstream data they can combine online interests and behaviors. Then, by aggregating all this data with channel performance and offline behaviour, marketers can achieve highly personalized marketing.
A key part of the equation in the first place is getting customers to hand over their personal information and agree for you to use it. Customers require a reason for giving up personal information, and to see value in the data exchange. They want to know what’s in it for them. More important still is for your customers to trust you with their data, and this is a significant issue: a survey conducted by F5 Networks points out that 70% of consumers fear data they share with private companies will end up in the wrong hands.
That said, if the benefits look favorable to customers (be it special offers, discounts, loyalty points, early access to new products and so on), and you have been able to establish a level of trust with them, then many appear willing to share.
In Forrester’s Customer Experience in Hospitality study, 51% of consumers say they are willing to provide personal information in exchange for more relevant offers. Unsurprisingly for this industry, the exchange works most favorably when giving up their data leads to a more convenient and comfortable hotel experience.
In the 35-54 demographic, 58% would share personal information to get check-in and checkout times that fit their schedule and 57% would like a room chosen for them based on past preferences. In the 19-34 range, 52% would give up data to help them discover local places and activities that interest them, and 29% would even do so in exchange for a minibar stocked with their favorite snacks.
A desire for personalization also appears to be well received in the insurance industry. Research from Accenture indicates that 48% would share personal information to lower their premiums and 34% would to receive a better level of insurance cover.
However, the research also suggests that the data they share needs some correlation with the benefits they seek. For example, more people are willing to reveal their precise location through GPS (17%, for ‘black box’ telematics schemes, for example) than their social network data (9%, to tailor more personalized products and recommendations).
Whatever the vertical, the feelings are generally the same: as long as you can provide a clear definition of the value they will receive for handing over their personal information, even those customers who are otherwise protective of their data will be happy to share for the right proposition. That said, as customers grow increasingly tech savvy, they will also need convincing reassurances that their data will be well protected and not exploited.
While there are many industry specific benefits to personalization, many customers will be more compelled to share in exchange for an improved customer journey: that their evolving needs can be met and that their journey is frictionless across channels. It you want to know more about your customers to increase retention, boost sales, encourage cross- and up-selling then your use of personalization must return a relevant, convenient and value-added experience.