From Personal To Individual: Why Engaging Unique Consumers Requires Unique Communication
Today’s consumers have unlimited access—literally at their fingertips—to do, read, watch, and experience almost anything they can imagine. For a brand to successfully capture the attention of today’s busy consumer, they must deliver something undeniably unique and personally relevant.
People everywhere receive “personalized” emails daily from brands greeting them by their first names. For a long time, brands have assumed this conveys genuine care for each customer. It’s certainly not the case anymore. Technology has evolved, and consumer expectations have risen to such a level that marketers must do much more. It’s no longer about saying, “We know you,” but rather, “We understand you.” To do this requires a major shift from personalization to individualization.
It may sound relatively straightforward, but what this shift entails and how companies can incorporate individualization in their everyday communications presents a whole new set of challenges.
Overcoming omnichannel challenges to truly understand your customers
Individualization elevates personalization to an entirely new level by analyzing consumer behavior, not only to confirm what they want now, but also to imagine what they will want. What are they interested in? How are they searching for the information they need? How do they find a new product they may want to buy? And, what else may influence their decisions? This may seem like an impossible exercise in mind-reading, but thankfully, the reality is that brands already have a wealth of information about their customers at their disposal to create more effective and dynamic campaigns in real time.
When data is harnessed well, the true power that omnichannel delivers is brought to life, allowing marketers to create powerful 360-degree views of each customer that can yield rich, actionable insights.
The challenge is in how to manage the data-heavy lift that individualization requires.
To understand how individualization works in practice, consider Marie. She consistently deletes marketing emails but responds to banner ads reminding her of the items she left in her cart. She routinely browses her three favorite retailers on her mobile phone during her lunch break and sometimes orders an item for pickup at a store near her office on her way home.
This simple example illustrates the point that every interaction Marie has (or doesn’t) with a brand tells marketers something valuable they can use to more effectively understand and address Marie’s taste and needs.
Marie is only one person. Compound this by hundreds of thousands, or even millions of customers that marketers might have data on. The sheer scale and complexity of this renders manual responses impossible, but this is where the collective power of AI, machine learning, and deep analytics come in to manage and automate the process, helping brands deliver seamless, individualized experiences across a multitude of channels and in real time.
The first hurdle is breaking down data siloes and ensuring that information about your customer lives in a single platform that integrates with existing data sources across channels and consolidates those insights to deliver a single, 360-degree customer view.
This unified customer profile allows brands to continuously augment experience across new interactions and campaigns for each customer based on their own actions, activities, and even external events. Machine learning then allows each iteration and campaign to become better and more effective over time, as it measures the impact of each interaction and improves on its marketing efforts at scale.
Identifying every customer
To interact contextually with every customer, brands must first be able to identify them. Given the sheer number of channels and systems in play, this is no easy task.
Whenever someone interacts with a brand, that person’s digital presence carries a distinct set of attributes—email ID, device fingerprinting, social handle, etc.—that the brand should pick up and match against other available data.
These attributes, with the right identification mechanisms in place, serve as identifiers to help distinguish first-timers from returning visitors, enabling the brand either to enrich an existing customer’s profile with a new interaction or add a new audience profile to its database. Brands must build or acquire the capabilities to track and recognize customers at every step of their unique omnichannel journeys from the first click to conversion to brand loyalty.
Embracing individuals, powering brands
The real-time, omnichannel approach is not only beneficial to marketers and brands. It also empowers consumers to become savvier participants in their own purchasing journeys, to waste less time, and only engage meaningfully with brands when they choose to do so.
While many may preach that technology and automation are taking the human touch out of business, this is not true. Rather, it could be argued that businesses can now provide even more of a high-touch approach in acknowledging that every customer’s path is unique. When technology is harnessed via omnichannel marketing, companies and their customers can communicate and engage in newer, more effective ways.
Redickaa Subrammanian is Co-founder and CEO of Resulticks, the world’s fastest growing real-time, conversation marketing cloud solution. During her 25-year career as a global advertising, marketing, and technology expert, she has developed winning strategies and outcomes-focused solutions for some of the world’s most respected brands. She holds an MBA from the State University of New York, Buffalo, and was named to Axial’s Growth 100 middle-market CEOs in the United States in 2016.