Leverage Advanced Customer Personalization to Increase Retail Sales

From AI to dynamic content and more, see how you can maximize the promise of CRM personalization.

Nearly 80 percent of senior marketers around the globe who exceeded revenue goals had a documented customer personalization strategy in place. And we’re not talking about simply adding a customer’s name to an email or direct mail piece. To be truly strategic and maximize revenue-building opportunities, you need to implement more advanced customer personalization solutions. These ideas will help you get going.

AI: The Big Buzz in CRM Personalization

Most retailers today have a solid grasp on the science of data collection. Artificial intelligence (AI) can help turn that sea of information into actionable strategies. From the perspective of customization and personalization in CRM, AI is particularly good for creating predictions and recommendations that let you market effectively to individual customers.

For example, HSBC credit cards is using AI to predict which rewards individual loyalty program members are most likely to redeem. The marketing team can then create personalized communications and offers that promote the relevant redemption category. In a test of this strategy, 70 percent of members receiving emails personalized from the AI recommendations redeemed a reward.

People-Based Marketing: Focused on Customer Identity and Personalization

The concept of “people-based marketing” helps marketers create robust profiles of individual customers and prospects. It creates a “persistent identity” that travels with a consumer across devices — including from offline to online environments — allowing marketers to gather cross-channel behavioral data. It also shifts data points from probabilistic (Customer A is probably a middle-age female) to deterministic (Customer A is a 40-year-old mother of two who shops Nordstrom from her laptop).

This level of detail allows marketers to make incredibly precise predictions of a specific consumer’s interests and needs. That, of course, should lead to a new level of customer personalization and result in the most relevant marketing messages.

Dynamic Customer Personalization Solutions

AI and the underlying tenets of people-based marketing hinge on collecting data and tying it to a personal identity. Dynamic content and creative use advanced digital and print production tools to leverage that data.

For instance, imagine 10 customers browsing your online shop. Each shows a definite interest in a different apparel item, but doesn’t make a purchase. You could send follow-up emails to each customer, showcasing the specific item that person was browsing. Using dynamic technology, you could change content blocks, images, even colors to make every email personalized to each customer.

Target and easyJet are just two examples of the many organizations delivering customer personalization through dynamic creative. Target developed a direct mail campaign featuring up to 20 variables per piece and sent it to 2 million shoppers. It yielded a 50 percent lift over a non-personalized campaign.

British airline easyJet created an email campaign for its 20th anniversary that celebrated individual customers’ travel stories. It used 12 modules based around 28 key data points to customize graphics, imagery and copy. Compared to a typical easyJet campaign, this one had open rates that were more than 100 percent higher, plus 25 percent higher click-thru rates.

With the right data to direct you, you might even choose to send each message at a different time of day or via a different channel. Maybe one customer gets a direct mail piece featuring the item, another gets the email and a third gets a text message.

Customer Personalization Across the Customer Journey

Hopefully your overall CRM strategy already includes customer journey mapping. But don’t fall into the trap of assuming that every customer follows the same journey or moves through that journey at the same pace. Instead, you need to integrate customer identity and personalization tactics to develop journey maps that reflect multiple scenarios.

For instance, is a new loyalty program member a “super user” who quickly racks up purchases and reward points? She may need to receive your welcome email series at a faster pace — or not at all, if she shows signs of fully understanding and using the program right off the bat.

Other customers may not follow a traditional or expected path to purchase. They may use exclusively one device to interact with your brand. Or they may use certain channels for browsing and another for buying.

Understanding where any given customer is on their journey at any given moment in time will also allow you to deliver personalized messaging at the right time. For instance, when a customer is filling out an application for your store card, you can use that behavior to deliver a message relevant to that specific action and moment in time.

More CRM Personalization Strategies and Examples

Here are three more techniques that can help push your customer personalization efforts to a more advanced stage, as well as examples of retailers using these strategies.

  • Move beyond basic personas by adding individualized behavioral and sentiment data. It’s “like moving from standard definition to HD,” says Aaron Aycock, co-founder and CEO of UserIQ.

Example: The mobile app from Adidas uses customers’ behavioral preferences to deliver “personally tailored content” and personalized product recommendations, as well as sports updates.

  • Don’t simply use data based on customer history. Incorporate real-time tracking technology, such as geofencing and iBeacons, to deliver real-time, location-relevant messaging.

Example: During its The Great Daffodil Appeal fundraising campaign, British charity Marie Curie uses geolocation to match existing supporters with fund-collection sites. Supporters receive an email with a real-time, personalized map showing their nearest collection site at that moment.

Customer personalization: Marie Curie
  • Use predictive analytics to identify what customers are most likely to buy from you next, when they’re most likely to shop and much more — all of which can be used to inform campaign messaging, offers, timing and delivery channels.

Example: Chocolatier Cadbury collected data from customers who agreed to connect with the brand through Facebook. They used the information to create videos with personalized imagery from the consumer’s Facebook page and to predict each person’s best milk-chocolate match, which was revealed in the video.

Data Best Practices for Customer Personalization

Data is the backbone of effective customer personalization solutions. The more data, the better. But, it has to be good data. Here are three tips to make it so:

  • Keep it clean. Top-quality data hygiene practices are an absolute must. Errors and inaccuracies will throw your personalization off and potentially alienate customers instead of engaging them.
  • Tear down the walls. Siloes are a notorious challenge in the retail industry. But for successful CRM personalization, you must be able to capture data through every channel and blend it. Then you need to make the resulting information available to teams at every touchpoint.
  • Tread carefully. There is a fine line between using someone’s personal data to enhance the customer experience — and stepping into stalker territory. Whenever possible, let customers know when you’re collecting their information and how you’ll use it. Then make sure that when you do put personal data into action, you truly provide a benefit to your customers.

A Customer Personalization Mentality

Last but not least, to get the most from your customer personalization efforts, they need to be part of your overall marketing strategy. Don’t isolate them to a once-and-done campaign or a now-and-then action. By making customer personalization — and especially advanced tactics — part of your retail marketing culture, you stand to reap rewards in the form of increased customer loyalty, engagement — and sales.

Are you ready to advance your CRM personalization strategies? Or maybe you’re just beginning to leverage the possibilities of customer personalization. Either way, CCG’s retail marketing consultants can help. From technology to creative, data collection to analytics, strategy to implementation, we offer a complete roster of retail marketing services dedicated to helping you realize maximum ROI. Request a free consultation or call 800.525.0313 today.