5 Things We Learned At The IMRG Personalisation Through Segmentation Forum

We recently hosted a ‘Personalisation through Segmentation’ forum with Conversant Media, looking at the latest developments and best practice in customer data, retention, and behavioural targeting.

In case you missed it, here are 5 things we learned.

1. Personalisation is about building brand equity

Segmentation will help you personalise your messaging. It’s the first step. But it is not in itself personalisation. Personalisation that retains customers takes time. There isn’t a relationship between brand and shopper just because a retailer knows their name and that they bought a pair of jeans last month.

The power of personalisation is greater the further back that brand can remember. It’s not just a matter of being able to identify the customer, but a matter of knowing them.

You can earn and build the relationship with the customer by offering tailored and specific communication. The more you know about them, their browsing, and their purchases, the more useful your communications can be. You can build a loyalty that is based on a history between retailer and customer.

The ROI of personalisation will vary from retailer to retailer, but in order to put a reliable figure on the value of the equity you build, you need to measure and test rigorously. That means sticking to one methodology, and testing against a control group of un-personalised customer profiles.

2. Brands and shoppers have a very different relationship to personalisation

When it comes to personalisation, retailers and shoppers have different priorities. The retailer is thinking primarily about it in relation to conversion, but the customer isn’t really thinking about it. They might notice it when it’s particularly good, and it significantly improves their experience, but they don’t give personalisation any particular thought. If it converts the customer, they probably don’t give a moment’s thought to the fact that personalisation got them to place the order.

Now consider that in order to personalise effectively, a retailer needs data, and a lot of it. No shopper is going to come to a retailer with their data, begging the brand to tailor some content. 67% of consumers see no value in sharing their data.

So in order to get the required data, the retailer either needs to accumulate it, or in some instances ask for it. Each of those has its pitfalls. One is susceptible to the question ‘How do you know that?’, the other to the question ‘Why do you want to know that?’.

The ‘creepiness’ of this data collection can be off-putting to a customer. When you want to inspire customer loyalty, apprehension is obviously not the ideal response. Consider whether it’s a good idea to reveal to the shopper exactly how much information you have about them.

Rather than scare or annoy your customer with overfamiliarity, ensure that your personalisation is providing a service. Don’t personalise for the sake of it.

3. Personalisation can help lead to a single view of customer

Because of the sheer amount of data that personalisation requires, a very beneficial side effect is that it goes a good way to enabling a single view of customer.

Single view of customer (SVC) is the ability to trace and attribute activity across devices, customer activity and the path to purchase. SVC and personalisation strengthen and assist each other.

Personalisation can group together the data, the transactions, all the odd email addresses, phone number and devices to create a clear view of the customer. It builds a clear view of the customer, which allows the retailer to offer the shopper a consistent experience, whether that’s on mobile, desktop, or even in store. When the retailer addresses the customer, they do so knowing who they are and where they are in the customer journey.

This opens the opportunity for a truly seamless path to purchase. The shopper doesn’t start with a blank slate when they continue their browsing on the next device. The retailer knows the progress of their search, and can let the customer pick up where they left off.

Personalisation complements this view by offering surprises and delights on top of the functional aspects of SVC. For example, personalisation understands the phases of the retail calendar and doesn’t focus on discounting; it can provide the right price at the right place and time for an individual customer, for whom the seeming serendipity of the suggestion can be even more pleasing than a discount.

4. You can control personalisation

In order to implement an effective personalisation strategy:

  • Create a team in charge of personalised communication
  • Make sure everyone has bought in to personalisation. You may need this support if you’re proposing to the marketing director that his current strategy is all wrong and needs overhauling
  • Think about your communication channels. Will you be using affiliate, email, social, PPC etc? Decide what creates value for you, and how it can be personalised
  • Remember that according to research by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences 80% of online ad effect is on offline sales, so without taking that into account, you won’t have a single view of your customer and therefore can’t personalise to the full extent of your potential

At the same time, you should remember that customers have the power over how you communicate with them. It’s not about how many times you communicate with them that they care about, it’s about content being relevant and timely.

Some customers are happy to be contacted by email and some aren’t, which means you shouldn’t spam everyone with the same message. Brands need to recognise this behaviour and adapt how they behave and communicate with customers, instead of just banging out emails. The closer consumers get to the brand, the more they expect them to know about them.

5. Personalisation can play a role in making GDPR easier to implement

Gathering all the information required for your personalisation strategy may seem intuitively like laying mines of compliance risks on the field of data protection laws. The good news is that it actually makes compliance easier.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU regulation which comes into effect on 25 May 2018. Its extensive rules might be daunting for a retailer, but personalisation can help to reduce the pain.

Instead of holding multiple data points in multiple databases, personalisation draws the data together to make it easier to find and access. The spirit of the legislation is in transparency and trust around how you use data and where you store it. It’s much easier to be forthcoming with that information when you’ve already stored the data in one place, and you have a comprehensive strategy for its use.


Upcoming forum

The next IMRG event is a Packaging Best Practice Forum, being held with Woodway and with speakers from M&S and John Lewis. Find out more.


Join thousands of other Online Retail professionals

Get unique insights straight to your inbox for free, and improve your understanding of online retail. Subscribe to Online Retail Weekly now.

Webinar Scroll Banner
Join thousands of other Online Retail professionals

Get unique insights straight to your inbox for free, and improve your understanding of online retail. Subscribe to Online Retail Weekly now.

Webinar Scroll Banner