Trying to get inside the mind of a customer is a complicated thing. It requires that you really dig in and look beyond the surface level details for meaningful takeaways. While you’ll probably discover a lot, there’s one truth you’ll definitely uncover: customers crave personalization.
Customers Crave Personalization
Today’s customers are busy. Not only are many working more hours, but they also have more things competing for their attention in their free time. While there are other reasons for personalization, this is one of the biggest. Personalization makes shopping faster and more convenient — two things that are highly valued in today’s society.
According to a study of 3,000 consumers in the U.S. and the U.K., more than 70 percent of people say they expect personalized experiences when they interact with brands. Notice the wording there. They don’t desire personalization — they expect it!
If you study American customers in particular, their expectations are even higher for businesses. They expect personalization, regardless of whether they’re interacting with an eCommerce company or a brick and mortar business.
The good news for businesses is that consumers are willing to work with you in order to receive personalized experiences. One study shows that 63 percent of millennial consumers and 58 percent of Gen X consumers are willing to share data with companies if it means receiving more personalized offers and discounts in exchange.
“Connected customers want to be heard, understood, remembered, and respected,” marketer Devon McGinnis says. “Ultimately, they want to be treated like people — and smarter applications of customer data can help companies deliver experiences with a human touch, at scale.”
The fact that shoppers want to help businesses help them is wonderful. It means you can satisfy your customers’ cravings for personalization in a cost-effective manner. The only question is, are you doing so?
Sadly, most businesses are not. According to an infographic from Kahuna, a leading mobile marketing platform, 85 percent of businesses surveyed know that their audience segments are too broad, and less than 10 percent of “top retailers” believe their current strategies are effective. Roughly half of all marketers — 48 percent, to be exact — know personalization leads to more sales, but the majority struggle to use it effectively.
The moral of the story is this: customers want personalization and are willing to help you improve in this area, but it’s up to you to take action. If you can do so, you’ll enjoy a lot of success in the coming years.
3 Ways to Create a Personalized Experience
The gap between knowing that customers want personalization and actually giving them personalized service is clearly large. It’s actually fairly simple to get started, though.
Let’s take a brief look at some ideas and principles you’ll find valuable.
1. Move Beyond Mass Production
There’s something to be said for mass production. It’s the reason why people visit McDonald’s for a burger and fries. They know that, regardless of whether they’re in Indiana, California, or the U.K., the meal will taste the same. It’s also the reason why customers stick with the same brands when purchasing things like deodorant, trash bags and light bulbs. There’s convenience and consistency in mass production.
But mass production isn’t always a good thing. There are certain products and services that are perceived as having more value when there’s low-batch production and personalization — jewelry is one niche that fits this bill.
When a woman shows her engagement ring to friends, she wants to hear people “ohh” and “ahh” over her sparkling diamond. The last thing she wants is for someone to say, “Oh, that’s the same ring I have.” That’s why leading jewelers custom design services as a way to personalize and differentiate.
Companies like Diamondere, for example, provide services allowing customers to design custom pieces. The process goes from idea to concept to finished product, allowing Diamondere to stand out in an industry that’s otherwise very crowded.
Are there ways you could move beyond mass production and leverage the value of personalization? You may have to think outside the box in this area.
2. Offer a Loyalty or Rewards Program
Customers want to know that your company values their business. There are plenty of ways you can do this, but one tried and true method is to create a customer loyalty program that rewards people for shopping with you.
The classic example that most people are familiar with is Amazon. A few years ago, the company launched it’s Prime membership service, which is essentially a paid loyalty program that provides personalized value in the form of free (and fast) shipping, online video and music streaming, cloud storage and more.
More traditional loyalty programs include frequent flyer programs and discount credit cards that can be used with retailers at the point of sale — such as rewards programs offered by department stores like Kohls. Are there opportunities for you to offer personalization in the form of loyalty programs?
3. Personalize Email Communication
For eCommerce companies, one of the top things you can do is personalize emails. According to an Experian study, personalized emails have a 29 percent higher open rate and 41 percent better click rate than standard, non-personalized emails.
The great thing is that it’s fairly easy to personalize emails. If you’re using an advanced email marketing service, you should have plenty of features already built in. The tricky thing is balancing your approach.
“Before you go hog wild with personalization, you’ll want to consider what details you’re going to include in your emails,” marketer Diana Potter says. “There is a fine line between helpful and creepy when it comes to personalized emails, and you don’t want to step over that line.”
Some of the things you can include are names, past purchasing behavior and noted preferences. You’ll want to stay away from using personal financial information or anything that could be viewed as an intrusion of privacy. The goal is to make the customer feel like they’re known, but not exposed. You’ll probably have to tinker around with this until you find the right balance.
Put the Customer First
If you want to provide personalized products and service offerings to your customers, you have to start putting customers first. Stop thinking about everything in terms of sales and revenue. Instead, look at things through the lens of what makes your customers feel valued.
While this may cost you up front, the end result will be better customer satisfaction, a higher percentage of repeat sales and healthier margins and revenue. In other words, you’re making a long-term investment in which the reward is exponentially higher than the input.
Online Shopper Photo via Shutterstock