The holidays may be in the past for another 11 months, but the chance to get your customers a gift isn’t. Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Without them, well, you know what would happen. And a gift is always a nice surprise.
But what to get your customers? Every business has customers who are repeat customers. Odds are you know them as more than an account number. What about a personalized mug? Whatever you decide to do, or if you do, personalization is the name of the game in inbound marketing. While people may bemoan the flood of information they receive online, having a personal touch as a business can go a long way.
Impact of Personalization to Customers and Business
Call it the millennial effect or whatever you want, but customers want personalization. An offshoot that is still growing from this effect is contextual messaging. Contextual messaging considers more than the usual knowledge of a customer’s name, location and purchase history. It dives into what platform are they accessing your website from, such as a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. Real-time information uses something as simple as is it’s raining at that customer’s location. If that’s the case, a contextual message could show them rain-related items if you have an e-commerce business.
As we already touched on, customers have an inherent expectation of a company or brand knowing them beyond their name. Though the internet and other digital mediums allow us near complete autonomy, our customers, and to an extent us, expect personalization every step of the way. Customers still want a one-on-one experience. This experience includes an expectation of having the information they want, when they want it, and accessible.
So where does this personalization begin? By using data from every touch point between a consumer and your business. Touch points are how a company interacts and displays information with prospective and current customers across various channels and points in time. The caveat is customers are quite empowered today. They want to have conversations and communication that create compelling and emotional experiences aligning with their stage in the buyer’s journey.
Sounds like quite the challenge. Except, it’s not. Consider this: the average consumer goes through a minimum of five touch points with a business before converting to a customer. By using the data your website, social media accounts and email marketing have been compiling, you can see what touch points need immediate attention.
How It Relates to the Buyer’s Journey
With more information at the touch of a button than we can comprehend, consumers and businesses alike are savvy at every part of the buyer’s journey. Nearly 75 percent of B2B researchers start their searches with a generic search. At this point, meta descriptions are your chance to shine. Make sure the keywords used relate to the content on the page but are unique from another page, even if the two pages cover different areas of a broad topic. Keep the meta description under 160 characters or risk being cut off by search engines on the results page.
Another way to engage people starting on the buyer’s journey is through blog titles. Sure, it might seem like you have witty and captivating titles, but there are ways to check the numbers. (And yes, in a world powered by numbers and all kinds of data, your title writing skills can be checked.) Our go-to tool for this task is from CoSchedule. The analyzer shows a letter grade for the title then break it down by word usage, headline type, length, and word count. It’s hard to not begin rethinking how to write titles when you see the scores.
People involved in the buying process are more than halfway (57 percent) down the path to a decision before performing any action on a website. Depending on how complex their problem or need is, these people may engage with calls-to-action and content offers. Dig through your resources – ebooks, whitepapers, presentations, videos, etc. – and line them up as offers. For a first time visitor to the company, offer an ebook based on the page(s) they visit. If that person visits again, nudge them toward a presentation on a specific area of the topic they previously downloaded.
Where Do Buyer Personas Come In?
When creating a personalization plan for your marketing, you should be referencing your buyer personas before ideas are tossed around. These personas are your ideal customers that at least exist 50 percent of the time because they are based on your in-person customers. You know their shopping habits, when they do business with you, such as weekdays or weekends, how often they visit your company and so on. But through your research and conversations, you know what industries they work in, marital status, where they live, and so on. Couple both sides of a persona together and you’re already halfway to creating a personalized experience for your customers.
Now comes the other half – what do they want to be personalized? Do your customers always open the weekly e-blast you send out? Include other personal tidbits, such as suggestions for products or services they might enjoy based on previous purchase history. If it works for Amazon, it’s worth a shot.
How Marketers Can Gain Confidence in Personalizing Content
Getting to know and understand what your customers want for a personalized marketing experience is like buying a gift for someone. You can be friends for years and know them as well as they know you. But there’s always a little pang of ‘what if’ that hits when do you go to get the gift.
Trust your instincts. You know your business, what it does, and if you’ve already taken the time to create buyer personas and implement them in your daily activities, that’s half the battle. Keep a running log of common or uncommon questions your customers have and tailor your content and marketing around it. From there, you’ll likely be able to see trends and curate more personalization opportunities from those questions.
So how does a company use all the ideas, information, and data to earn customers on a personal level? By blending them together, but not a one-size-fits-all approach. Again, refer to your buyer personas and your brand. Customers want your brand at the right time and in the right channel. Through everything, you’re likely to gain a few brand enthusiasts. These are customers who are likely to recommend you to their friends, family, and anyone they can on social media. The personal touch you’ve provided them through their buyer’s journey and beyond will pique the interest of others. Who knows, you could find yourself with a wave of eager new customers.