Generic marketing campaigns and the traditional ways of targeting consumers in a catch-all manner are no longer relevant.

Personalisation is now driving marketing and advertising strategies. The new 790-square-metre screen (bigger than a full-sized tennis court) being installed at Piccadilly Circus in London, which will display ads based on the personal interests of nearby cars and people, is an extreme example of where this is going.

Personalisation makes marketing relevant to the individual. Every customer is different in their own right; therefore, they have different relationships with your brand. And each these customers will be on a different stage of their buying cycle, which will influence the type of content you share with them.

For example, have they owned your product before, have they engaged with your brand before, or are they a huge fan and do they know your brand inside out? Do they have any particular wants and needs related to your brand?

Identifying these different stages of your customers’ journeys will help you to create a map which can be used to inform your content strategy. From there, you can ensure you are serving the right information to the right people, in a truly personalised way.

Segmenting your customers to find out where they are on their journey

To achieve true personalisation, you need to be able to identify where your customers are in the buying cycle. Let’s use an automotive company as an example. You could broadly split their audience into three sections:

1. The browsers: These people don’t own one of their cars, but they are interested in cars in general and would be open to hearing about their cars. They might buy one in the future.

2. The buyers: These people are convinced they want to purchase a car, but it’s a big decision because there is so much choice on the market. They will need to be guided through the process and be advised on the right car to suit their personal needs.

3. The owners: These people have bought a car from them, but they might need aftersales care, such as spare parts, accessories, or services. They may also be interested in upgrades or accessories – whether that’s the sound system within the car.

A good personalisation strategy would consider all three groups of people and tailor content appropriately. Taking the third group as an example – those who already own a car – you don’t need to convince them to make a big purchase, meaning they don’t need information about your vehicles.

Instead, they will want to engage with content that can enhance their driving experience, such as tips on how to reduce engine wear or how to drive in a manner that increases fuel efficiency. Likewise, if they interact with your website, they will want to go straight to aftersales or customer care, and not be served with content that tries to convince them to purchase a car.

It’s not just about selling either; it’s about serving them useful content that will keep them engaging with your brand. For example, if you know this customer makes a lot of long journeys each month with their family, a simple piece of content which provides ideas such as top five films to download for iPad for long car journeys to keep their kids entertained, will enable you to connect with these customers on a new level.

This data-driven approach, enabled by powerful content management and marketing software, will provide a personal and highly relevant experience for your customer whilst driving upsell opportunities for your brand. And critically, maintains customer engagement and loyalty.

How can it benefit my business?

Once you know your customer well and have embraced personalisation, the question is, can you measure the effect it has on your company’s bottom line? The answer is yes and, in fact, while trying to perfect the customer experience, organisations discovered a whole host of benefits that have huge financial and business impact.

In 2016 we commissioned a report together with Avanade, which concludes that for every US $1 organisation spend on improving the customer experience, they see a return of US $3.

Getting personalisation right

While the benefits are clear, it’s easy to get it wrong if you don’t have an accurate view of your customers’ behaviour. Recent research shows that 98 percent of UK consumers think that there is such a thing as ‘bad personalisation’, because brands are making simple mistakes such as using out-of-date information about them (66 percent of consumers said this about brands they have interacted with), get their personal details wrong (63 percent) and make assumptions about what consumers want based on single interactions (64 percent).

You probably wouldn’t want to market a new sound system or shiny alloys to a retired couple who use the car to tow their caravan, for example.

To get personalisation right, we must have relevant contextual information for each member of our target audience. Ensure you are capturing as much data about your customers as possible, across all platforms – from mobile and social media through to point of sale, CRM and ERP systems. A holistic view of this data is critical in order to paint a clear picture of each customer’s preferences and where they are in the buying cycle.

So, make sure you know who your customers are, and take the time to understand what they’re looking for and where they are in the buying cycle. If you want to plot a course to success for your business, it’s key to understand where your customers came from, where they are now, and where they’re going. Only then can you deliver true personalisation.

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