Cross-channel information is vital to accurate personalization
Personalization has come up in a number of different retail facets. First, many merchants are leveraging personalization in their marketing efforts. People have long been annoyed by irrelevant marketing and advertising campaigns, with one report from InsightsOne suggesting that customers would stop buying products from companies that targeted them with irrelevant ads.
Personalization is one tool retailers can use to improve the pertinence of marketing campaigns, and is particularly beneficial for niche merchants. For example, a B2B marketplace that personalizes a campaign for customers based on the industry in which they partake in could have a strong effect on purchase intent.
Personalization is also important to retailers in another key area: product recommendations. Most merchants used product recommendations as a way to create engagement opportunities on-site. A retailer may keep track of a shopper’s account activity and then suggest items related to their their recent searches and browsing history.
Effective personalization stems from the ability to collect information across channels
Retailers clearly view personalization as being key to their engagement efforts. In fact, one recent study from Forrester Research, reported by Internet Retailer, found that as many as 94 percent of respondents believe personalization will help them accomplish short-term goals, while 97 percent think it will help them achieve long-term objectives.
Basic personalization is easy to achieve by simply asking shoppers for basic information when they sign up for an account. For example, retailers will often include a welcome message at the top of their websites that says something along the lines of “welcome back, (customer name).” They may also use customer names in email newsletters and other marketing material.
Personalization gets tricky when retailers want to go deeper with these efforts. For example, online product recommendations require retailers know high-level information about customers prior to engagement. To make pertinent product suggestions, merchants must look at key factors such as what a customer has purchased before and which items they may be interested in now.
This deeper personalization requires merchants to consider multiple channels. Someone may look at an item online but choose not to purchase the product through that medium. This suggests the customer is interested in an item but simply has not purchased it yet, which would make a reminder about the product critical. But what if that person actually researched the good online and then purchased it offline? That would make the online recommendation useless and irrelevant when merchants could have, instead, suggested another item.
Personalization in the future
Although many retailers are using personalization, they understand that it is a complicated process. This is why as many as 64 percent of respondents to the Forrester survey want to increase how much they spend on personalization in the next year.
At the same time, however, it is crucial that retailers consider all channels customers are shopping through as a means of garnering this information. Whether they want to make poignant product recommendations or fine-tune marketing campaigns, they absolutely need to ensure they are using the most up-to-date information possible. Nearly two-thirds of respondents admitted that it is often difficult to capture this cross-channel data to form a single view of customers, but if they want their personalization efforts to be effective, it is something they will need to do.