Most organizations are now familiar with data in some capacity, but extracting customer insights can still be a challenge. Even those who have mastered data analysis can struggle to meaningfully act on the insights they uncover.

From Mass Marketing to Niche Marketing

The modern organization’s struggle with personalization is understandable – The customer experience wasn’t always a hot topic in business and marketing. Before data, everything was marketed in the same way to all people. Often, this simple strategy of tossing out persuasive ads and hoping they were relevant to someone, somewhere, actually worked. The customer experience was more uniform and predictable, and for the most part, marketers didn’t need to care.

In those days of mass marketing, your niche could be broad. A vacuum salesman’s niche was vacuums, plain and simple. Today, it’s a different story. Consumers have access to millions of businesses on the internet – not just the businesses they live near. A quick Google search, YouTube video, or email campaign can bring dozens of new businesses to the forefront of a customer’s mind. How do they choose?

The first key component of personalizing your customer experience is to carve out a more distinct niche so you can reach the right audience. Everyone has preferences, but you’re only concerned with those of your unique customers.

Customer Expectations are Shifting

One of the biggest reasons organizations must personalize the customer experience is consumer habits and expectations. Advancements in technology have drastically changed the way most people experience ads, research products, shop, and make purchase decisions. Social media, mobile devices, email marketing, ecommerce, and other sweeping trends have contributed to a whole new way of experiencing the world – and that absolutely includes the customer experience.

From start to finish, the typical journey of the consumer has been revolutionized. Most importantly, they have more options and more opportunities to get distracted or confused when interacting with any of your touchpoints. For this reason, personalization is a tall order, but one that you can’t afford to ignore.

Understanding Before Personalizing

As touchpoints multiply, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand each facet of your customer experience. That means we must rely on data to reveal the problems our customers are having, what frustrates them, what makes them happy, etc. These insights are nuanced, but with the right data, general trends begin to emerge. These trends will then illuminate next steps for organizations that are hoping to make themselves more efficient.

Whether it’s the checkout process, email newsletters, or landing pages – personalization must be front and center of the design process. When decisions are made from customer behavior insights, the results of your marketing efforts become more predictable.

Conducting a Personalization Audit

Auditing your customer experience requires attention to detail and finding out exactly what your customers want. To do this continuously, you need relevant data.

“By analyzing data like their ‘add to cart’ rate, page views, product views, or the referral channel bringing them to the website, brands get a much richer profile of their customers’ behavior before creating an experience for them.” source

  1. Track the Customer Experience and Identify Touchpoints

No organization can get far without in-depth knowledge of the customer journey, both online and in person. Look at the path customers travel as they get closer to you. This may start with social media or an ad they click. It may end with them becoming a monthly subscriber to your service, or purchasing a product and then unsubscribing. The customer journey that doesn’t end how you’d like is even more important to analyze. 

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

  1. Determine the Significance of Each Touchpoint

Data analytics now allows organizations to weigh the impact of each touchpoint. This helps you know what areas of your website, for example, to place the most focus and effort. It also allows you to see weak touchpoints that customers aren’t meaningfully interacting with so you can improve or remove them.

  1. Identify Silos and Work Toward Integration

“If you have signs that, for instance, your ecommerce programs aren’t syncing with your storefront programs through viable integrations, you know you have a problem. Customers, naturally, expect seamless integrations between digital and physical worlds, and it doesn’t always happen.” – Timothy Burke

  1. Look at Existing Feedback and Resources

Sometimes making improvements doesn’t require a ton of analysis. Consider what questions you often receive from customers. Ask experienced team members what problems or complaints they hear from customers the most. Oftentimes a simple conversation can reveal the low hanging fruit – problems you can resolve with a few quick changes.

Personalization Equals Retention

“Customers always have an experience – good, bad, or indifferent.” Sachin Datta

When customers feel understood, they have a better experience and they’re much more likely to stick around. This is when breakthroughs happen and retention becomes less of a struggle.

Personalizing the customer experience can be simple – learn about your customer preferences and meet those expectations, over and over. When you move from guesses and assumptions to factual observations, things like poor design choices and customer confusion are less likely to occur.