Love is in the air, and so is the desire to shop. The National Retail Federation says American consumers will spend a near-record $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day. So, just like the Romeos trying to find their Juliets (or Romeos, for that matter), you’ve got to win over your customers’ hearts. And how do you do that?
The answer is personalization.
Personalization starts with data. Even when you match with someone on Tinder or Bumble, you’ve specifically matched with them because of data. Data helps to ensure the compatibility of matches, as it does your offering with customers.
Once you’ve connected your data across your business systems, you can start unlocking your customers’ interests, behaviors, and preferences. Just like on a first date, you want to absorb all the important information that will enhance future experiences and make customers favor your brand over the competition. You don’t want one date with customers, you want a lifelong relationship with them!
Use your insight to power meaningful engagements, memorable moments that will stick with customers for the long run. After you’ve engaged your customers, it’s time to convert them. You, like Romeo, want commitment. You want to be exclusive. Because no one else – not even your fiercest competitor – can offer what you can, right?
The work doesn’t stop there. Just like a spouse, a customer who has purchased with you needs to be nurtured and cared for. That’s how you turn one-off purchasers into repeat customers. Treat them (and their loyalty) with the love they deserve.
Let’s take a closer look at the stages involved in building customer love.
First and foremost, you’ve got to link up with your customers. That means gathering all of your important data in one place. If you’re an ecommerce marketer, your focus should be on consolidating contact data, website behavior, order history, and anything else that will empower your messages.
The bottom line is that you want to acquire more customers faster and retain existing ones at scale. Just like the dating scene, if you want to win the person over you’ve got to build up a complete picture of them – interests, preferences, behaviors and all.
Making an effort to get to know your audience doesn’t have to be hard. With the right tech stack, it can be a breeze. Once you’ve harvested your data, use tools to dissect and make sense of it. For instance, let’s say someone’s opened your email, liked the look of the products you’re promoting, and clicked through to browse your website. After several minutes they close the browser without making a purchase. That’s when your data becomes insight: they’ve opened, clicked, and browsed – but they haven’t ordered anything. “Was it something we said?”
So, unlock engagement with the power of context. In this case you should pool high-intent contacts together and trigger a timely email (like an abandoned browse campaign) to reestablish the path to purchase; like dating someone you really like, life can get in the way sometimes. It should never be too late to pick up from where you left off.
Now that you know who your customers are, use the tech at your disposal to organize your audience and customize your content. Data-driven tools empower your marketing team to deliver the right message to the right person, at the right time.
Segmentation is key to making your messages more relevant. According to an eMarketer report, 71% of marketers filter customers by demographic information such as location, age, and gender; while 62% segment on preferences and behavior, like order and web history.
These tactics can translate into meaningful engagement that drives a serious uplift for your business. What’s more, once you’ve identified your high-intent from your low- and your loyal customers from your one-off purchasers, you can use automation to enroll contacts onto the correct programs. This maximizes engagement as the messages they receive – which are crafted for a specific audience – should mean something to them.
Shower your customers with delightful experiences. This is where personalization happens; you’ve got a handle on your data, built up an idea of who your customers are, and you’ve determined who you’re sending what content to. The relevancy of your messages can spark the desired engagement – it might be to prompt a customer to refer a friend or redeem a voucher, leave a product review, or place another online order.
Imagine you’ve just downloaded Match.com and started swiping away to your dear heart’s content. After about 20 minutes of mind-numbing swipes (we’ve all been there), your matches start pouring in – or in my experience, trickling.
There are two options:
- Curate an unimaginative message like “Hey, how are you?”, or;
- Customize the greeting of each match based on what you can gather from their profile.
If they love travelling, ask them where their favorite destination is. If they’re a dog person, say that you LOVE dogs and, to break the ice, send a GIF of a Rottweiler gulping down yogurt. Creating a hook increases your chances of getting a reply; who knows, that GIF could spark the beginning of something beautiful (or culminate in a boozy and embarrassing first date).
In 2019 it’s no good sending a blanket email. What if customers prefer SMS? Maybe they only like to communicate via push notifications (did you know that the worldwide opt-in rate is 67.5%?). Brands that dominate their customers’ channel preferences will have a competitive edge. Think about all the communications consumers get in a day; you need to make contact on the right channel, or else your message will never reach its intended recipient. The same goes for finding ‘the one’; what if the person you’re meant to be with is on Tinder, not Chappy, or on Bumble, not PlentyOfFish?
You know when you know, right? After a period of dating – perhaps it’s 7 dates, maybe it’s 10 – there’ll come a point, a specific moment in time, when you have the ‘talk’. “Oh, had the talk yet?”, your friend might ask. “No, but I think it’s coming; we seem to really like each other and I want to be exclusive.” Similarly, once a prospect starts engaging or interacting with your messages, they’ll start building up a level of intent which will potentially end in conversion.
You’ve got to make sure that you’re there, ready and waiting, once they’ve reached this level of commitment – perhaps with a perfectly targeted Google ad? Obviously customers – unlike romantic partners in a relationship (you would hope!) – won’t shop with you exclusively. But that’s not to say they won’t shop with you again and again. That’s where the romanticism of conversion comes in; it’s the beginning of a lifelong relationship between your brand and your customers.
Cultivate your relationships for the most profitable return on investment. Remember, generating a new customer can be up to five times more expensive that retaining an existing one. So, focusing your efforts on customer retention can mean more bang for your buck.
Let’s revert back to the Valentine’s analogy: While going all-out on February 14th is a must, it’s even more important for your partner to go the extra mile the whole year round. Customers, in a similar manner, will become more loyal if you build the love over the long term. Unfortunately, a yearly money-off voucher on their birthday won’t cut it for customers; you’ll have to nurture them continuously with consistent, data-driven messaging.
Do you have a loyalty program? What’s your VIP criteria? Is it based on average order value or the frequency of purchases? Whatever you decide, know this: customers are humans who want attention.
So go on, share the love!
Join us at dotdigital HQ on Wednesday 13th February for an evening of digital speed-dating!
Attendees will have quick-fire meetings with ecommerce experts to discuss all things ecommerce: improving conversion, customer experience, marketing, personalization, and order management.