An effective online business personalization strategy has two goals: To remove the “faceless” aspect of a business and to improve customer relations. Your business may be professional and efficient, but an impersonal business can keep some potential customers at arm’s length. With some simple modifications to the design, usability, and content selection of your website, your business can obtain a real connection with its customer base.
A successful personalization campaign will improve business performance by encouraging a perception of approachability, relating to customer’s core values, and personalizing interactions with customers. These elements will help to:
• Attract new unique sales
• Increase the likelihood of upsells and downsells
• Encourage repeat business
• Reduce customer complaints
• Enhance the potential for favorable customer reviews
• Lead to positive word-of-mouth consumer promotion
Understanding how to know your customer better through detailed data analysis and using those findings to offer more personalization is a highly effective approach. Consider implementing the following strategies to help visitors relate to your online store.
Show Me Yours and I’ll Show You Mine
Customer personalization can be as simple as displaying the user’s name when they log into your online store and including their names in emails (there is nothing more faceless that a “Dear customer” email). But you can only be as personal as a customer allows. At the minimum, your online store’s user account sign-ups should be asking for email and first and last name.
Requesting a DOB allows your business to send out Happy Birthday emails. Include the option for entering a landline or mobile number as either can provide opportunities for additional personalized promotions. To assist with the streamlining of processes and managing customer interactions, consider using a dedicated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform such as SugarCRM, Insightly, or MailChimp.
You shouldn’t expect customers to give up their personal information without offering some of your own. Customers like to know the people behind a company. The persons responsible for the products and content. An About Us page that includes photos and bios of employees is a great way to increase personalization. Don’t hide behind anonymity.
Why not have employees perform video reviews of products, show how a product is made, or record instructional content? You can post these on your website, on other video hosting platforms, and send out links via email to customers. Open a virtual door to your business and allow customers to gain a feel for it and see who’s behind it.
According to a recent post on Forbes.com on marketing misconceptions, “Even though 84% of consumers say the experience a brand creates is just as important as the product or service it sells, only 30% of brands use customer data to create more relevant experiences, according to our data.”
Encourage Customer Service Interaction
We’ve already mentioned the importance of email personalization, but don’t forget this includes all email-based receipts and invoices. You can use automated email clients to ensure all email correspondence is personalized.
There will be genuine circumstances when a customer needs to talk directly with a member of staff. Make it easy for a customer to contact your business directly – either by email or phone or even social media – and always respond promptly. Consider integrating a live chat module into your e-commerce platform for the ultimate personalization. A customer may want to offer a positive suggestion or provide useful information – it’s not always a complaint!
Positive Branding and a Unified Message
Decide on the brand of your business. Will the face of the company be a person or logo? A logo may seem impersonal, but a cool or quirky animated character can become as recognizable as the face of an owner or CEO. Most people know Mickey Mouse, but how many know the face of Walt Disney?
If your business employs numerous content contributors, there is the possibility this may lead to a disorganized message. This could create confusion – you don’t want customers getting mixed messages. To combat this issue, consider adopting a content guide for contributors that outlines your company’s preferred style, voice, and terminology.
A poorly targeted email to a prospective customer can worse than no message at all. Consider the following statistic from a recent presentation by Salesforce titled, “How to Know Your Customer: A Look into the Future of Customer Experience”:
“70% of millennials are frustrated with brands sending them irrelevant marketing emails. They prefer personalized emails over batch and blast communications.”
Reward Those Who Contribute
Ask customers to produce video reviews about products or write blog posts and comments. Encourage them to become active on a forum (either your own, if you have one, or other forums related to your business interests).
Some customers will be eager to have their opinions heard and to self-promote a business they value, but others may need some persuasion. Remember, consumers love gifts. Something as simple as earning badges or ratings for contributions (displayed next to their username) can instill loyalty and pride in a customer. You can even link additional rewards to an increase in their ratings.
Additional options for encouraging customer contributions are:
• Content submission competitions with prizes for best entries.
• Running contests or giveaways on social media – a great method for generating buzz and rewarding proactive customers and you can use social media-based promotions as part of a business-wide branding strategy.
• Bonuses for email sign-ups are another popular reward scheme.
Customer content interaction makes them feel like they are directly helping your business and are part of a team. Consumers trust other consumers opinions and often buy based on customer reviews.
Thanking the Loyal
Try rewarding customers who part with their hard-earned money by creating a loyalty/reward program. For example: Spend over $XXX and get 10% off, 20% off your next purchase, 2-for-1 offers, etc. You can send out vouchers and codes via email to valued customers.
Not Just a Number
Offer consumers the feeling of personal experience from a considerate business. Make them feel your business values them personally and is reaching out to them. If you want your online business to grow, encourage customer interaction and view each customer as a person and not just an account number or sales figure. Adopting a personalization strategy to build customer-to-business trust can solidify sales and enhance your online reputation.