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Behind the Scenes: Customer Personalization

Behind the Scenes: Customer Personalization

It’s no secret that if you spend time online, you share data.

When you shop, browse, or learn online, you give companies information about your preferences.

You could be dealing with one of two types: white hat (ethical) or black hat (unethical). If they have your best interest in mind, their goal is to use your data to improve your experience. 

They’ll do that by showing products you might be interested in or providing the customer service number for your own country.

As Iterable says, the marketer’s job is to bring the right message to the right people at the right time.

Your customer data is their customization superpower. It helps them get you (the right person!) the right message at the right time.

So, maybe you’ve noticed that we love us some frictionless customer experience around here. 

We want to help you understand what goes into it so that you can make a connection with companies you love.

Front and Center

Customer experience looks a little different to the users and the makers.

As a consumer, you see the personalization system all dressed up and ready to go.

Social profiles, links, websites, advertisements, blog content, events, chatbots, reviews … they’re called touchpoints.

They’re your point of view of the company.

As you come across touchpoints, you’ll probably find more personalizations:

  1. Location-based site and searches
  2. Videos based on your interests
  3. Upsell opportunities (“You might also like…”)
  4. Emails in your preferred language
  5. Abandoned cart notifications (“Did you forget something?”)
  6. Ads based on your searches
  7. Coupons for specific items you’ve viewed

It’s all an effort to make your experience effortless. 

Plus, it’s a win-win situation: the consumer gets something to solve their problem and the business gains a new customer.

OK, but where does it come from??

The internet is set up to give and receive information. It’s meant for communication, connection, information, and entertainment, kind of like a public market.

That makes it the perfect place to learn more about consumers and improve business.

Many companies use software to connect your end to theirs (two API endpoints) and compile information based on your activity. 

They can see what your interests are, where you spend your time, who you engage with, where you’re located.

Usually, they aren’t looking into your darkest secrets or listening into private conversations (or trying to stalk you). 

Most of them don’t mean any harm. Their purpose is to grow their business, not conspire against you.

They just want you to stick around.

What they get is always based on the information that you provide through interactions you’ve made in this public square.

Some might be:

  1. Website traffic
  2. Signing up for something
  3. Enabling location services
  4. Purchase history
  5. Email opens
  6. Your watch list (like on YouTube or Netflix)
  7. Survey answers

Curtain Call

It takes time and effort to create that instant notification.

So, here’s where you find the marketing world’s dressing room. Marketers have to figure out how to glamorize piles of information. 

Data is collected using services like Iterable or ActiveCampaign and organized into segments. 

Campaign software can see how many times you’ve clicked on or viewed a link, if you’ve opened their email, what kinds of things you like to buy. Long story short: they create a user profile based on your interests.

Think of it as your consumer Facebook page.

Once you interact with their business online, you set off a sequence of events on the back end. 

They’re called workflows or automations.

Depending on their software, they might use a workflow template or a custom-made workflow. Either way, their intention is to pay attention to your actions so they can:

  1. Personalize your experience
  2. Prompt you to action

Let’s dive into a scenario.

The Abandoned Cart Sequence

So, you’re online shopping and you’ve decided to buy something. That information is sent to campaign software and labeled as a trigger event.

The trigger event sets off a string of events all set to happen at specific times on your journey.

 Each of these events leads to that one message…

“Did you forget something?”

Once you click “add to cart,” the software waits a set amount of time to check if you’ve gone through with the purchase.

Here’s what happens behind the scenes:

If yes →  stop

If no  →  continue workflow

Then it gets fun. If the answer was no, it asks: do you still have items in your cart?

If yes → send an email 

Are the items still in the cart after another day?

If no → purchase event clears the cart

If yes → send another email

This sequence continues as long as your situation allows. The marketer will judge that with… you guessed it: the same software.

Keep in mind that this is just one example. Marketers have workflows set up for everything from scheduled lists to unsubscribing. 

And they’re all customized to the customer.

Ethical marketers use your data responsibly to methodically think through every touchpoint. Because they want what you want! A good time and a good result.

How are you going to put customer personalization into action for your business?

Compiling data is only the beginning. You need a detailed plan to make personalization work for you.

What goal are you trying to reach with personalization? It could be that you want to increase engagement, make more sales, or build brand loyalty. Let your goals guide your decisions.

Next, figure out what and how much data you have available. If you haven’t been collecting or organizing data, this is a great time to start building it up.

Now that you have a clear picture, how are you going to use your data to make great experiences? Depending on what you have, you could start with location-based search or go all in with upsell and abandoned cart sequences. 

Guide the customer one step at a time.

Something to think about: What have your favorite brands done to make your experience better? How can you channel that to improve your own business?

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