Customers increasingly expect a one-to-one relationship with brands.  They pay attention to companies that show they care by knowing what and when they want it.  This is where personalisation comes into play in developing meaningful relationships that will translate into sales.  As a small business, you may not have the time to reflect on your customers and what they truly want.  However, investing time and money in developing that very understanding will go a long way and keep you in the running for their share of wallet.

1.      Machine learning is a reality and impacts the customer experience

Focus on the norm and not the exception.  The goal is to personalise while staying efficient.  Look for groups, subsets of these groups that are worth your time in personalising for.  The first step is to make sure you the right data and enough that shows a full picture.  The risk of not having the right data is an expensive and ineffective experiment. With the right approach to data, however, machine learning can completely change the customer experience game and drive the results a retailer is looking for.  According to the study carried out by The Boston Consulting Group for Google in 2014, as much as a 200% improvement in action rates for clicks and view-throughs and up to a 70% reduction in cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-view (CPV).

2.      Marketing automation allows retailers to customise and send messages in a timely manner

These SaaS (Software as a Service) providers offer their own version of maintaining relationships with customers to keep them interested through meaningful email messages.  SaaS programs allow you to automate follow-up with customers after a purchase and recommend other products that they’ll appreciate and be more likely to buy.  Motivate customers to come back by surprising them with a discount coupon triggered by their shopping behaviour. Send reminders to visitors who left products in their cart that encourage check-outs. You can even re-engage inactive subscribers.

3.      Retargeted advertising.  Stay in front of your web visitors even if they are not on your site

This tactic allows your ad to be seen wherever your potential customer is on the web.  They have already visited your website, but may not have bought or converted as you expected.  As they surf around the internet to other pages, your ad will appear.  According to Wishpond, there is a 70% probability that a user that sees a retargeted ad will convert on your web site.

4.      Social networks.  Use platforms where your customers spend their time that favour interaction and real feedback

If you do not have social presence in social networks yet, take the time to create an attractive page.  According to Fleishman Hillard customers “like” brands pages to learn about what’s going on, to stay up-to-date, to be the first to know about new features and products.  Just learning about what the brand is doing is more important to them than even discounts!  Interaction generated in social networks allows you to get immediate feedback, through “likes”, “shares”, and “comments”.  These comments, likes and shares translate into customer insights to personalise future interactions, identify passionate customers and rewarding them, knowing which type of content to publish and even help you define your product and services.  Be sure to respond to comments quickly to increase positive experiences.

Combine Facebook with Twitter to promote what you’ve published on your Facebook pages. Getting the word out is made easier by leveraging these channels. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, can include links and hashtags. Most important it gives your communications more visibility.

5.      Bridging online and offline with Geofence or Beacons

With the increasing ubiquity of smartphones, Beacons and Geofencing make sense for retailers who want to increase the probability of immediate purchasing. The technology are wireless sensors that bridge the virtual with the physical experience.  As customers shop in a store, the brand can inform the buyer with information or offers with the goal of boosting product sales.

Every successful retailer knows their customers and which ones will drive sales. The key to stay in the game is to engage those customers every step of the way on the customer journey.  Share relevant information where they are and when they are likely to want you.  Gather data and follow that data down to road to personalisation by adopting technologies that make sense based on your resources and the size of your business.

By Theresa Desuyo, Associate Processor of Digital Marketing in TBS Barcelona and specialist in Inbound & Content Marketing, for the magazine Contact Center

Tags: digital marketing|retail industry|Theresa Desuyo

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