The stats simply don’t lie. According to SocialMediaToday:
43% of consumers prefer companies that personalise their experience,
48% of customers spend more when their experience is personalised and
74% of people hate being shown irrelevant content. *
Personalising the customer experience is something that crops up again and again, but now in 2019 it can either be a life line if you get it right, or a noose if you get it wrong.
If you ever had a sliver of doubt on the matter, then consider this, you’re at a party surrounded by dozens of people and the hum drum of their conversations. It’s easy enough to drown out and ignore the background chatter, but as soon as someone says something that is of particular interest to you, you instantly tune into that specific conversation. The relevance of that information allows it to rise above the noise.
This is known as the Cocktail Party Effect, and it works.
When you get it right, personalisation earns your customer’s interest because whatever it is – be it the email newsletters in their inbox, the new products suggested to them or the information on your website – it feels appropriate to their lives and gets them to sit up and take notice.
It’s not simply about putting your customer’s name on something, it’s about simplifying the customer experience by only providing information that is relevant and personalised to their lives, and more importantly their innermost wants, needs and desires.
Alex Allwood, author of Customer Experience Is the Brand, argues that customer experience is an even more crucial competitive differentiator than pricing or technology. Allwood questions what our point of difference is in today’s marketplace where very little differentiation exists between one brand and the next. If we are already competing on price, technology or innovation, he asks, what is going to differentiate you from your competitors?
Personalisation with Big Data
So everybody’s talking about personalisation and how important it is, but how can we achieve this?
Big Data seems to be the buzzword that pops to mind.
In 2015, TopShop partnered with Twitter to analyse real time data on the social network during London Fashion week. The aim was to identify trends as they happened and then group them together on billboards using Twitter hashtags. Customers walking past were encouraged to tweet a hashtag to their TopShop account indicating their favourite products. TopShop then responded with a curated collection of the top picks. This ingenious use of big data allowed TopShop to know exactly what its customers were looking to buy after London Fashion Week.
While Big Data is incredibly useful, there is one caveat to note, you will constantly be toeing the line between creating engaging experiences and completely freaking your customer out.
Make sure it’s the former and not the latter.
One of the most famous examples of this was in 2012 when big-box retailer Target used behavioural data to identify pregnant women as early as possible during their pregnancy. In this way Target could be the first to send targeted messaging to expecting moms in the hope that they would then shop at Target for all of their baby needs. This strategy backfired into a PR nightmare when one disgruntled father saw coupons for pregnancy products that were being mailed to his teenage daughter, before he himself knew that she was pregnant.
Not only do you need to be careful about how you use the data, you also need to think about how much you want your customers to know about what you know about them.
People want to be in control, or at the very least have the impression that they are always in the drivers seat. Their sense of agency, also known as sense of control, is their subjective awareness of initiating, executing, and controlling their owns actions in the world - those actions that are of their own volition. Should your customers begin feeling like their personal information is being used to forcefully direct them to behave in a certain way, as opposed to being politely nudged in what you believe is the right direction, there could be serious consequences.
There is a very fine line between resonance and overfamiliarity.
Neuromarketing and Big Data – A recipe for success
Now that you’ve utilised all the big data at your fingertips to create the most customer centric experience on the planet, it’s time to utilise the best in consumer neuroscience to ensure that this experience is emotionally engaging, memorable and most importantly enjoyable (as opposed to being completely creepy).
Neuromarketing can provide more nuanced data about how your customers actually experience your brand, product or service – as well as the personalised way these are advertised and marketed.
Although Big Data is incredibly useful it's not the whole story. You often don’t have access to the full context or sentiment during the various consumer behaviours from which this data arises. With Neuromarketing, Big Data becomes far more relevant as you can access more granular insight into the emotional and cognitive dimensions of the real world experience.
Where Big Data uses information about what your customers did so that you can try predict what they will do in the future, Neuromarketing provides insight into why they did it in the first place, in the moment, in real time.
Neuromarketing combined with big data can work together to create amazing personalised experiences, but marketers also need to be intimately aware of privacy agreement specifics before diving into personalisation, as a large number of customers also have privacy and data protection concerns.