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Digital gets personal: 3 ways to amplify individualized experiences

Brad Koszuta, Andrew Mullins
Chatbot with lock and key hanging in front.

Personalization sets your business apart from the competition. While 66% percent of consumers expect personalization when interacting with brands, only 16% of retail leaders listed personalized customer experiences as a critical data need for this coming year in a recent survey. The more you tailor your messaging and products, the greater the potential to build a lasting relationship with your customers.

The personalization consumers crave 

Today, retail personalization is far more advanced than integrating first names into email blasts. Instead, modern personalization harnesses the power of customer data to deliver individualized and relevant digital experiences.

The most successful companies don’t stop at personalizing services. They pursue hyper-personalization. For consumers, this expectation has become so well-established that many are annoyed when they experience anything else. Research shows that 42% of people find impersonal content frustrating.

Customers want relevancy—for example, guided shopping experiences that consider dietary restrictions, recommend new or seasonal menu items based on purchase history, or use suggestive selling to recommend complementary products. Specifically for quick-service restaurants, consumers are 70% more likely to visit in person if they receive a personalized ad based on a previous order. Sixty-six percent are more likely to visit if that personalization is based on their location. These personalization activities strengthen customer relationships, improve customer engagement, and drive incremental revenue.

Achieving the level of understanding to provide deep personalization requires foundational data, thorough analytics, and practical insights that deepen understanding of customers’ preferences. This allows the most forward-thinking companies to profitably engage with timely personalized experiences that drive sales and increase customer satisfaction.

When all the elements come together successfully, personalization unlocks front-end growth opportunities through loyalty programs, product recommendations, dynamic pricing, search, and even AI-based customer experiences.

3 key pillars of personalization

To unlock your personalization potential, you need to understand three core pillars:
Chatbot with lock and key hanging in front.

Pillar #1: Data foundations

Data is the core of your personalization plans. Without deep customer knowledge, there’s no way to know which products consumers want, what messages they wish to receive, and when they want those interactions. Ultimately, your ability to drive business value through personalization will always be limited by the quality of your data.

Of course, when attempts at personalization go wrong, whether the cause is bad data or poor strategy, it can have a significant impact on customer behavior. If you have a proven track record of recommending relevant products and services that align with customers’ tastes and preferences, only to propose the wrong item on their next visit, they could be irritated, offended, or inclined to mistrust your next recommendation. According to Kin + Carta internal research, 50.5% of shoppers have been so unhappy with a retail digital experience that they avoided shopping with that business in the future.

Your data should also control for local and global factors. Customers living in a specific geographic area might have some commonalities, but many demographics will be distinct. When experimenting with different approaches, large amounts of data are required to create meaningful personalization. These differentiating factors should help to inform your strategy on every level.

How do you know if your data foundation can support your personalization? Your data foundation is strong if you have:

  • Analysis and modeling-ready features for your customers
  • Metadata available on products, offerings, and transactions
  • Low-latency customer touchpoints
  • The ability to determine how customers reacted to your personalization efforts

This information is essential to personalizing your marketing in ways that delight customers and impact their spending habits.

Pillar #2: Iteration

Starting with a solid base of data is critical, but what you do with that information is equally important. Your ability to drive business value with personalization will be defined by your ability to deploy new customer experiences, collect relevant data, and generate insights to drive your roadmap.

Each of your customer touchpoints represents an opportunity to capture data that informs your next iteration, especially when those touchpoints occur in real time. Shrinking the time between data collection and your next iteration is essential to a successful personalization strategy. Successful iteration is accomplished when you can roll out a customer experience, rapidly learn from the results, and quickly implement a new experience.

When you’re able to iterate quickly, applying those insights to your next customer interaction, your personalization efforts will begin to feel like a genuine relationship. The goal is to understand your market as though you’re a trusted friend, anticipating what customers need and want before they know it themselves.

Pillar #3: Collaboration

Impactful personalization isn't built by data scientists in a lab. This aspect of your customer relationship dynamic is fundamentally cross-functional. This means it requires buy-in from many parts of your business to ensure efforts are aligned with your ultimate goals.

Successful personalization flexes many muscles within an organization requiring contributions from multiple departments simultaneously. Leverage your marketing team to tap into your customer’s personas and define the best strategies for reaching them. Enabling your creative team will help you create imagery that drives impact. Trust your operations team to successfully deliver your personalized activities.

If they aren’t involved from the start you risk missing the mark on implementation. If marketing isn’t able to provide a theory for how to reach your customers, will you? If your creative team isn’t producing excellent content in sync with that theory, will the personalization drive the customer behavior you want? If your operations teams aren’t on point, will you be able to reliably deliver that personalization? Organizations doing personalization well lean into each department's strength to build the best of the best programs.

Interested in starting your journey to hyper-personalization?

Learn more

The need for personalization is undeniable, but few retailers or restaurants can do it alone. At Kin + Carta, we’ve helped our clients to double the impact of their personalized marketing program and build effective optimization models. For one client that led to a $5.5 million lift in weekly revenue. With the right strategy, your business could gain similar benefits.

Learn how we can help amplify your personalization efforts.

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