Customer Personalization: What It Is and Effective Strategies
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Because of the large volume of retail outlets, both traditional and online, that are available for customers to choose from, it's becoming increasingly important to provide an environment where customers feel important. Many customers look for a company they can purchase from that caters to their needs and treats them as unique individuals. One way that an organization can accomplish this is by incorporating customer personalization strategies. In this article, we explain what customer personalization is and the benefits of using it, plus provide a list of strategies you can use to personalize your customers' experiences.
What is customer personalization?
Customer personalization is the method of recognizing each customer as a unique individual and creating an experience for them that shows their value to your organization. This can include anything from using a customer's first name in your email series to providing product suggestions based on the customer's purchase history and lifestyle needs.
Whereas customer personalization used to mean placing a customer in a group of like-minded and similar customers so you can cater to them on a larger scale, many customers now expect to receive a one-on-one connection with companies that understand they are individuals with unique interests, needs and motivations.
Benefits of a customer personalization strategy
There are many benefits to developing a customer personalization strategy, including:
Competitive advantage: If you're able to provide a personalized customer experience, then you're likely better able to differentiate yourself from competing businesses.
Customer loyalty: Differentiation can earn your customer's loyalty, and you may find that your customers recommend your business to others in their network because of it.
More sales: As you continue to impress the customers who buy from your business, you can also earn more sales as they frequent your store more often.
Data gathering: The more you participate in customer personalization, the more data you can gather about your customer base, including information about their frustrations, interests, favorite websites and income level. With more data and analytics, you can further personalize the customer experience.
11 customer personalization strategies
Review this list of 11 customer personalization strategies you can use to provide an experience to customers that turns them into brand ambassadors:
1. Develop a data collection strategy
One of the most important parts of a successful customer personalization plan is data. It's imperative that you set up data collection efforts that you can later analyze in an effort to understand your customers better. With verifiable data, you can design a strategy that appeals to customers, helping them feel like a valued piece of your business's success.
2. Ask for feedback from customers
Feedback from customers, through surveys, interviews, focus groups and opinion polls, can help you understand them better. Your efforts at asking for feedback can show a customer that you care about their opinion and want to create an experience they'll be happy with, while also providing you with information that can be really helpful for personalization.
You can encourage both positive and negative feedback and even consider rewarding customers for providing their genuine feedback so you can benefit from more knowledge to work with.
Related: How To Get Feedback From Customers
3. Use email segmentation
Email segmentation is when you separate customers into groups based on any number of factors, which may include their location, age, shopping habits and purchase history and interaction with your brand. Segmentation provides a way for you to create customized and effective messaging that gives customers a personalized experience.
For example, you can create an email segment for customers who purchased a particular product in the last month. You can then email only this group of buyers with information about a compatible service they may benefit from. If you're opening a new retail store, you may develop an email that invites customers in the area to a VIP opening.
Related: What Is Segmentation?
4. Set up reminder emails
If you're an online business, consider developing reminder emails for customers who may have left an item in their cart without purchasing. This strategy can be beneficial for both existing and new customers who need a little more encouragement to make a purchase. To incentivize them, you may offer a percentage discount or a coupon code that generates a free sample of a product.
A further way to personalize these emails is to offer suggestions for similar products that the customer may actually prefer to the one that's in their cart. You can also provide content on the benefits of the product or share case studies of how the product was helpful to other buyers.
5. Review results
To enhance your personalization efforts, it's important to review the results of any personalization strategy you may use. You may find that not every business idea or process is successful, however, if you're able to find an effective aspect of it or at least learn from the experience, then you'll probably be in a better position to implement personalization that has more success in the future. During the review, gather employees who were a part of the process and ask for their feedback.
6. Create a knowledge base
A knowledge base is an online library of content on helpful topics that a customer can access for self-guided learning. Rather than requiring that they call or email a support team or a group of customer service representatives, a knowledge base can give customers the information they need when they need it. This is a personalized experience, as you're providing a way to meet customer needs and answer their inquiries. To personalize even further, consider implementing a feedback form where you collect customer questions and suggestions that you can include in the knowledge base.
7. Spread your personalization among several channels
Your company may operate on several channels with customer connection abilities, including social media, your website, email, text messages, mobile applications and through phone calls. By developing a customer personalization journey that spans multiple channels, you can be available any time a customer wants to interact with your business, and deliver consistent messaging to them too.
As an example of an omnichannel approach, if a customer visits a particular product page on your website several times, you can then serve them an advertisement for the product on social media. You may also send them an email to remind them of their interest in your product and provide a discount code for purchase.
8. Provide interactive tools to customers
A personalization strategy can also include inviting the customer to be a part of their own personalization. One way to do this is by encouraging the customer to create an online profile where they can input basic information about themselves and choose different communications they prefer from the business.
Another way to encourage customer interaction is by offering a feature where customers can try your products digitally before purchase. For example, if you sell photo filters, you can provide the customer with the ability to upload their photos and test your filter before purchasing. This helps them understand if they'll benefit from your product because they can directly see how their photo looks once they apply your filter.
9. Develop a brand voice
It's becoming increasingly important for customers to feel they can purposefully connect with your brand. One way to accomplish this is by developing a brand voice and tone that speaks directly to the customer as an individual rather than a collective. Explore ways you can create content that's engaging, purposeful, authentic and easy to understand, as how you interact with customers reflects the business.
To make sure you're delivering consistent messaging, you may do things like:
Write a style guide so each content creator knows the parameters of your brand voice.
Create specific guidelines that help establish trust with your customers.
Set up templates that content creators can use for repeat communications or types of content.
10. Create a welcome email series
This is a popular customer personalization strategy that involves welcoming the customer as a new user of your product or service, often via email. Once a customer signs up with your company, your email can include information on what they may want to do next, a way for them to contact support or their sales representative, training videos on popular topics or a thank you promotion based on any preferences they may have set during the sign-up process.
11. Perform geotargeting
Geotargeting is the method of providing location-based content, products or services to a group of customers or an individual buyer. You can also use geotargeting for advertisements. For example, you may choose to produce a social media advertisement for your sunscreen to customers who are located in some of the hotter states in the nation.
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