Personalization has never been more vital. As a result of shelter in place orders across the world, marketers across industries have been forced to pivot towards digital transformation and to do so at a much faster rate than normal.
Marketers across retail, media, financial services, healthcare and other industries are having to quickly adapt to new customer needs.
Right now, companies need to focus on ensuring they are optimizing digital engagement with their customers, while informing them of self-service options (for call center deflection cost-savings) and safe methods for engaging in physical locations as they begin to reopen.
This means promoting these self-service options and shifting business strategy as customers flock to web and mobile platforms. In fact, the healthcare industry has seen some of the biggest shifts, with telehealth growing 20% over doctor’s visits as the dominant method of patient/doctor engagement.
These pivots require quick optimization and personalization strategies to determine the best methods for providing care and service to patients in a 100% digital environment.
Regardless of industry, customer experience is at the crux of personalization, as it drives both growth and retention. However, personalization is not a one-size fits all solution.
For marketers who are embracing this shift to digital and prioritizing personalized experiences, there are a few key considerations to factor in.
First, and arguably most important for marketers, is to ensure you have a deep understanding of your customer. This lets you develop a hyper-personalized customer journey and access to data, specifically single customer-data profiles are the key to unlocking that information.
In a survey of over 1,000 US and UK marketers we conducted earlier this year, we found that only one in four organizations had single customer-data profiles, with 60% saying they planned to achieve this within the next 18 months.
With timelines significantly shifting, industries like healthcare need a full customer view to determine not just what customers want from their brand, but to determine how to provide critical information customers need on topics uniquely personal to them.
Leveraging tools like AI can help brands quickly scale their personalization efforts. This can be done through automated large-scale testing to quickly determine what experience will work best for a specific customer, AI algorithms designed to filter and promote personalized content, and rule-based personalization that automatically filters data by age, gender, location or even brand affinity.
For instance, recommendation algorithms can be leveraged to ensure that the most relevant products are being shown based on availability within a geo-location or timely content related to health, safety or urgent information is prioritized for a visitor.
Recommendations can also be a powerful method for taking a returning visitor back to a product, article or video they were viewing during their last visit.
In addition, AI-driven personalization activities such as Auto-Target can ensure that the most relevant personalized offers are shown, such as free trials, discounts or deferred payment methods, to provide the best incentives for customers to convert, sign-up or purchase digitally.
Now more than ever, consumers are looking for convenience across their online experiences. They don’t want to be bogged down by too much red tape and distractions.
In the same study of US and UK marketers, 16% of respondents felt they looked at too many pages in order to find the content they were looking for.
As data sets continue to grow and marketing automation and AI continuously refine themselves, chatbots have emerged to help blur the lines between people and machines and help deliver hyper-personalized experiences.
When chatbot personalization delivers correctly, it has the potential to deliver information to customers much faster than manual searching across a website.
Expectations related to health and safety when engaging in physical locations, such as a hotels, means companies will need to think through personalizing ease of delivery and safe pickup methods for customers and guests.
Our survey showed a 50% increase in digital traffic early in 2020. This points to a need for better tailoring and optimizing of experiences for new online visitors who may not be familiar with digital ordering or reservations, as well as clear incentives for delivery options that highlight safety precautions.
Marketers also need to think through different virtual experiences and figure out how they can successfully transform offerings in a digital setting.
For retailers unable to rely on brick-and-mortar experiences, this means being extra active across social channels and reminding customers of the virtual options for brand interaction.
For example, a popular outdoor magazine was able to provide tips on how to enjoy family activities often relegated to parks and public spaces within the home, such as fun tips on rock-climbing exercises and setting up indoor obstacle courses.
Special offers for consumers stuck at home can help to increase conversion and brand loyalty during delayed sporting and concert events.
This can include a free trial for a sports package that is currently showing highlights but will (hopefully) be airing audience-free sporting events in the coming months.
In addition to brands partnering with music venues to stream live and past performances of artists so fans can stay connected without leaving their homes.
Marketing in this time has thrown many for a curveball. Strategies have shifted as fast as the increased expectations from consumers. But those marketers, who are able to leverage personalization in their interactions will remain successful no matter how the world continues to change over the course of this year.
Drew Burns is the Group Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Target and works to evangelize the practice of personalization and content targeting in the digital marketing world.
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