Last week I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion at the Retail Council of Canada’s virtual STORE conference focused on the value of personalization—specifically on the sub-topics of engagement and loyalty. I was joined by Penney McTaggart Cowan of Calgary Co-op, Yvonne Anyon of London Drugs and Dan Howe of Save-on-Foods—all three of whom I would consider experts in this space and all three of whom agreed that personalization is not just about the technology, it’s about bringing the technology to life.
And, if there is one key takeaway that I can share with you the panel from STORE it’s this: Personalization means so much more than just knowing who your customers are, inserting their first name into your marketing communications, recommending “like items” or acknowledging their previous purchases.
Personalization is all about the DATA.
I know, for many it’s a 4-letter word, but we can’t avoid the fact that data is at the core of everything our businesses need to cater to our customers and grow our businesses.
And the simple reason is that data is fact. It’s not thoughts or intent, but actual actions. This is what is actually happening in your business. From a customer perspective, their actions tell you everything you need to know about them; who they are, what they buy, when they buy, how and even why they buy (but you have to ask ☺).
The truth is customers are more than OK with sharing this information with you, they just want you to use it.
There is, however, one caveat; you must use that data to actually IMPROVE their experience. If you make their purchasing journey with your brand more convenient, more valuable, more enriching, or however you define a great customer experience, they will gladly share data with you.
I hope I don’t sound like a broken record, but it bears repeating that great experiences are born of knowledge, making a customer feel special and creating an emotional bond that builds strong loyalty with your customers.
Now, creating connections with your customers in person is one thing but bringing that same level of connection to digital is something entirely different. Your digital customer experience is just as important, if not more so, than your in-store customer experience. The difference is with digital, you can’t rely on the same sensory effects or the human touch available in-store making the use of your customer data critical.
Creating emotional connections with your customers means leveraging the data you have beyond products and offers to include relevant, insightful communications that elicit an emotional response. This could be as simple as knowing your customer is a new mother and including imagery of a mother and young children in the next offer she receives, or knowing it is Bob’s birthday so instead of sending him just a happy birthday email with a free dessert offer—include a picture of his favorite dessert, the one he orders every single time he visits.
As marketers, we live and breathe data. However, leveraging customer data to create an immersing digital experience is a whole new ball game. This is where engagement technology comes in.
I highly recommend using a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to create a centralized view of your data, and making sure the data is updated in real-time because no one wants to receive an offer or discount on a product they just purchased an hour ago. But data not used is useless. That’s where a Personalization Platform comes in—one that easily make use of data so that you don’t need a PhD. in Engineering to make sure your customers are always receiving the most relevant communications available to them in any given moment.
Better yet, find a solution like omNovos’ PACE platform that offers both—a personalization platform with a built-in CDP to cover all your engagement needs and like Yvonne Anyon mentioned during our panel, “bring the technology to life and still have that emotional connection with the customer because ultimately, that’s what personalization really is.”