Consumers Take it Personally: How Retailers Can Respond
As we saw in part one of this article, consumers today want more personalized engagement. However, retailers can’t deliver on personalization without capturing better data that can help them improve the customer experience and keep shoppers engaged. So, while brands are working hard to gain customer confidence and acquire data, they’re stumbling at the final hurdle.
It’s the ability to use this data to segment customers into target audiences, then fine-tune and personalize messaging to enhance shopping encounters at each touchpoint, that allows retailers to enhance engagement. Retailers need to review their marketing operations to ensure they aren’t missing out on a large chunk of potential revenue in a market that's rapidly accelerating as a result of COVID-19.
Personalization is table stakes, and integration enables marketers to embed personalization using a range of core techniques. From a technical standpoint, the communications must integrate with the brand’s core e-commerce platform, be it Magento, Shopify, or BigCommerce. What personalized communications strategies make sense for retailers? Here are several proven suggestions.
Ideally, given how much time, money and effort has gone into getting the customer to checkout, a personalized cart recovery email should be sent within 30 minutes of the purchase to drive conversion.
Customers often require assistance at different stages in their shopping journey, regardless of how polished the site navigation. Even better is an immediate touchpoint using the SMS channel. SMS can extend to Facebook Messenger or even WhatsApp; if these are the channels that customers are using, then retailers must embrace them.
It may also mean offering live chat, ideally with a real person. Chatbots can answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) and are certainly of value in industries such as banking, where most inquiries are transactional. However, chatbots have no emotional context and cannot adapt when the customer is confused or upset. Rescuing these situations demands an interaction between two people.
According to research from the “Hitting the Mark” report, consumer preference centers were missing in 66 percent of emails. Preference centers represent another opportunity to empower customers to tell brands what they want — insight that enables progressively personalized communications to be orchestrated.
The goal of course isn't just sales, but repeat sales. However, 66 percent of brands don’t send out editorial content — only marketing emails — while 80 percent don’t have a loyalty program at all. Don't make the mistake of discounting these programs as tools for mega brands that can be full-blown schemes. What about simply thanking the customer for buying and offering a reward for their loyalty in future purchases?
Ultimately, these are simple fixes; once brands look at their own businesses from the customer’s point of view, it's easy to see how personalization involves them more deeply in the relationship. Customers are taking control of their shopping and they will gravitate towards those that give them that control. Personalization is just the start.
Genelle Kunst is the Americas head of marketing for dotdigital, an online marketing company.
Related story: Consumers Take it Personally, But Retailers Lag Behind