Will 2023 be the year of personalization? Consumers hope so. For the past two years, shoppers have been craving the personal touch: in 2021 McKinsey & Company noted that 71% of customers expected companies to deliver personalization. In 2022, a Salesforce survey found that 73% of people expected brands to understand their needs and expectations. So this year looks like a year where personalization can no longer be seen as a ‘nice to have’.
The problem, of course, is how to get more personal. Many companies have already started working on this. They greet shoppers by name on landing pages. They rely on CRMs and other tools to use historical information to send customers tailored recommendations. They offer personalized, real-time discounts to help buyers convert their abandoned cart items into actual purchases.
These are all great ideas. The only problem is that they have become widespread. They are no longer moving the needle on the customer experience. Instead, they are standard, expected and rather forgettable. That doesn’t mean you can afford to quit. It simply means that you need to think of other ways to personalize your interactions with the consumer.
If you’re scratching your head on how to surpass 2022 personalization in 2023, try implementing the following strategies:
1. Go full social media engagement.
An easy way to add a personal touch is through your business social media pages. The use of social media continues to grow. In 2022 there were approx 266 million monthly active users (or MUAs) on Facebook, a billion on Instagramand 755 million on TikTok. Not all of these active users will be your target audiences, but many will.
Connecting with your social followers is one of this year’s goals. People spend a lot of time on social media. It’s where many of them “live”, so it only makes sense that it should be a place to encourage personalization.
A quick way to enhance the personal touch of your business on social media is to personalize all of your retargeting ads. Quizzes can also provide an opportunity for personalization. Just set up an engaging quiz and let people share their results. It’s a fun way to build brand awareness and bond with consumers. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with getting really personal and replying to all comments. Depending on the size of your team and the number of responses you receive, this could be a viable option.
2. Leverage AI to go beyond demographics.
Most companies rely on customer demographic information to aid their personalization efforts. The only problem with this tactic is that demographics can’t tell the whole story. It’s impossible to get much context about individual users (such as their lifestyle, personal preferences, and motivations) just by knowing their age, gender, or location. While demographic data is useful, it can cause significant miscalculations.
Michael SchaffCEO and co-founder of Evolv AI, explains the solution to this problem: “The most natural and therefore productive personalization efforts use demographic data as a foundation and then add users’ likes, dislikes, behaviors and values.”
You can leverage the predictive and insightful capabilities of AI to discover real-time user insights. Scharff recommends this technique because it allows you to stay in sync with the rapidly changing pace of changes in consumer behavior. He adds that AI could be particularly useful with upcoming restrictions on access to third-party cookies, as it could be a first-party data source, helping you maintain customer knowledge and connectivity.
To shape your organization’s strategy, you need to look at other companies that have moved beyond demographics. Take Netflix, for example, which constantly adjusts its AI algorithm to help improve personalized content recommendations. It boils down? If you want to show customers that you know them well, it makes perfect sense to go beyond superficial information.
3. Keep your data spotless.
The better your data, the better your personalization efforts. Period. Unfortunately, you’re probably stuck with a lot of unstructured or otherwise hard-to-use (or impossible-to-use) data. This emerged from a recent survey by Great Expectations 77% of data professionals have data quality issues and 91% say it hurts their business performance.
You cannot personalize anything with corrupt or questionable data. So do your best to find ways to clean your data quickly and routinely. For example, you may want to invest in a more centralized data system, especially if the personalization data you rely on is scattered in several places. Having a single repository of data truth makes it easier to know if the available information is ready to use.
Another way to tame your data is to automate as many data processes as possible. Reducing manual manipulation of data reduces the chance of human error. And you’ll feel more confident in all your personalization efforts if you can rely on the reliability and health of your data.
4. Go for non-technical personalization.
It’s the digital age, but that doesn’t mean every touchpoint has to be digitized. Consumers often respond with delight and positiveness when they receive personalization in clearly non-technical forms. (Yes, you can use technology to track everything. Just don’t make it part of the actual personalized exchange!)
For example, consider writing handwritten thank-you notes to customers after they call for support or email your team. Or send an additional personalized gift to buyers who make a certain number of purchases. These interactions are not technical, but they can differentiate your customer experience from that of your competitors.
A groundbreaking snapshot of Deloitte made just before the pandemic showed that people were hungry for connection. By collapsing non-digital experiences into your personalization with customers, you show them that you see them as valued people first and foremost. That’s compelling and attractive, making them more likely to give you their loyalty in return.
Putting a personal spin on all your consumer interactions takes some time. It’s worth your energy though. You’ll end up with stronger brand-copper connections, helping you get ahead of your competitors even more.