Why Personalization Is the Future of Engagement

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T.J. Gentle
T.J. Gentle



personalization-retailThere’s a universal truth to doing business: Every company needs loyal customers, and those that fail to inspire loyalty simply won’t make it in the marketplace. That’s why we’re all trying to find ways to give customers a “love” experience. We need to create a connection, solve needs, and become indispensable to create loyalty.

Each one of us has a story about how we found the company that we enjoy shopping with most. Whether it’s a sense of humor that clicks, customer service that wows, or intuition that anticipates needs almost before they’re felt, there’s something special about that company that inspires loyal customers. They really know how to connect.

How we go about creating that connection is key. When a customer finds us, our cutting-edge site or technology, though important, shouldn’t be the first thing they notice. Rather, they should feel like we know them, like we’re familiar, friendly, and helpful. They should notice that we meet their particular needs.

Meeting each customer’s particular needs takes a great deal of product knowledge. When coupled with knowledge about the customer -- whether it’s their location, click path, or particular preferences -- that product knowledge allows a process called "prescriptive personalization". It’s the term used to describe how companies can connect customers with products that are just right for them.

Personalized Product Offering

Prescriptively personalizing a customer’s experience takes a lot of knowledge -- knowledge about the customer and about what she likes. Click paths, browsing history, viewed products, geolocation, and even quiz answers provide that knowledge. And knowledge is power.

With a proper understanding of what your customers are looking for, you can suggest things to them in a way that will seem, to them, perfectly natural. The products the individual sees will be those that your company has found to appeal to customers with her preferences. Taking it even further, you can make her experience consistent across your site, even down to the style of furniture shown in landing page banners.

The shopping experience we’re able to provide through prescriptive personalization is stunningly effective. We’ve seen higher rates of engagement and greater likelihood that customers will shop with us again. Most importantly, conversion rate shoots skyward. For customers who have received personalized results, conversion rate is 20 times greater than that of customers who shop without the benefit of personalization.

Personalized Emails

The email inbox is some of the most coveted space on the internet. It’s almost as though you’re being welcomed into your customer’s home, into the space they reserve for friends and family. In that space, you have room to make your pitch. They’re willing to be convinced -- if you know how to convince them.

That’s why prescriptive personalization is so important to the success of emails. Through specific, knowledgeable personalization you are able to provide better product recommendations, offer more relevant content, and tailor the messaging to resonate with customers whose preferences are known. As we’ve applied data from our personalization efforts to our emails, we’ve seen open rate increase by roughly 75% and click-through rate increase by nearly 50% on average.

Personalized Banner Ads

It’s easy to apply a generic template to banner ads when advertising on other sites. You’ll be able to catch the attention of some people. However, many more will respond to your ads if the ads themselves are informed by each viewer’s preferences.

Prescriptive personalization on retail websites is a gift that keeps on giving. It can be used to provide data and by using cookies, can notify your banner ads to show a modern, metal chair instead of the more casual upholstered chair. You’ll keep influencing your customers and solving their problems even when they’re not on your site any more.

Demographics come into play when you don’t have a cookie on the browser of your ad’s viewer. When you know her location, you know -- in a broad sense -- what style she likes. When you show her what she likes, you further cement your relationship with her. She starts to see you as the destination where she’s likely to fulfill her dreams.

Personalized Retargeting

Remarketing lists make prescriptive personalization work within your search engine marketing strategy. Using consumers' style preferences and browsing history, you can ensure that your ads show them the exact product that they were looking at -- as well as other related products. Every time they’re served one of your remarketing banners or see one of your paid search ads, it will be relevant to their current needs or future desires.

Your relationship to the customer depends on how well you can listen. “Listen” to what their browsing history tells you. “Listen” to their location data to find out what styles they see most often in their physical environment. “Listen” to what they actually tell you in quiz results. If you respond by giving them what they’re asking for, they won’t see it as abnormal. If anything, they’ll see it as normal. And they’ll see sites that don’t provide prescriptive personalization as the anomaly.

There’s no way a web retailer can offer this level of personalization without being able to apply informed attributes to each one of its products. Staff who really understand your products are indispensable to making prescriptive personalization work.

Imagine walking into a store, telling the salesperson that you’re interested in low-priced, casual bedroom furniture, and having the entire store shift to place the stuff you’ll like right in front of you. Prescriptive personalization is exactly like that.

Customers should see products that match their style, price, and space preferences. They should see more relevant banner ads. And they deserve to have fewer barriers between them and what they really want. When you provide what they’re looking for, you’ll be making it easy for them to shop. You’ll be creating loyal customers who trust you to give them an experience that feels comfortable. You’ll be indispensable.


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