How to avoid annoying prospects with personalisation

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How long does it take before prospects walk away from your website? 15 seconds! Has this time span changed? It probably has. Technology has nurtured more impatient people. Immediacy is the expectation. But we shouldn’t perceive this in an overly negative light. In people-to-people conversations, there’s an element of immediacy expected. This is the world of marketing personalisation.

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Personalisation is the holy grail of marketing. From big to small businesses, new to established brands, it is in their marketers’ playbook. In website development, for example, it’s worthwhile to note over 9 in 10 websites see an increase in conversion rates as a result of personalisation. To add, a Marketo study showed that close to 4 in 5 will engage with offers that have been personalised based on previous interactions with the brand.

In an increasingly undifferentiated world of business, personalisation has grabbed centre stage. The focus, not that it never was, has shifted to consumers. They are more informed, more demanding, discerning and spoilt for choice. Competing for a share of their wallet is keener. The battle lines have been redrawn. Unless victory is achieved in the hearts and minds first, it’ll be difficult to convince and convert prospects. Personalisation helps to create the emotional connection needed to win the battle of hearts and minds. When consumers believe brands have the depth of understanding of themselves, a relationship is built and nurtured over time. This emotional connection is the strategic advantage brands must possess to grow.

McKinsey has argued that personalisation produces tangible results. It can lead to revenue increases of between 5 – 15%. Failing to adopt it can be costly for companies. Accenture has reported that 2 in 5 consumers switched companies because of a lack of personalisation in their effort to wow and woo. This amounts to a loss of $756 billion. That’s a significant amount of revenue lost at a time when the climb to win and retain customers is steep.

However, in the race to outdo the competition in their personalisation effort, companies are at risk of overdoing it. It can get very creepy. The rise of personalisation brought to the fore concerns over data privacy too. If we see personalisation and data privacy sitting on opposite ends of a continuum, there is a middle ground or sweet spot marketers must strive to achieve. It may not appear as obvious as one would like it too. It can be deduced from a series of trial-and-error and established best practices.

In this article, we share ideas and tips on how to arrive at that sweet spot. Apply them in your web or app development where possible. It can be a line drawn in the sand sometimes, but having a set of guidelines can avoid annoying prospects with the perils of hyper-personalisation. Let’s examine them below.

1. Be data disciplined

It’s increasingly possible to collect, store and analyse every digital footprint of customers and prospects. The connected consumer leaves behind an elaborate trail of his or her shopping and buying behaviour. Data analytics have become more advanced too. They have made artificial intelligence and machine learning a reality and an essential tool in marketing.

Hitting the right note is as relevant in music as it is in marketing personalisation. Irrelevant data will not only muddle your strategy and actions but contribute to an already noisy and cluttered socio-marketing environment. In the course of it, you place your personalisation effort at getting too close for comfort. Instead of drawing customers and prospects closer to you, you’ll turn them away.

To be data disciplined isn’t too difficult. It all boils down to having a clear and focused strategy. Adopting personalisation for personalisation sake is a mistake. Be clear of its intent and stick to it. It can be tempting to want to know more about customers and prospects. But if it doesn’t nurture a stronger relationship, skip it.

2. Know the customer journey well

How well do you know the customer journey of prospects and customers? Before you answer this question, remember what you know of it isn’t a vanity exercise. Its the quality of what you know that matters more. Your customers’ digital footprint is valueless without a qualitative appreciation of it.

To illustrate, gathering customer feedback is a common practice to understand customers. But most feedback surveys address the ‘what’ and not the ‘why’. Acting based on the ‘what’ alone is insufficient. The chances of making mistakes, for example, coming across as insensitive or creepy, increase.

We encourage marketers to dive deep into the customer journey to understand the ‘why’. The emotional hooks you need to hang your product or brand on can be found in the ‘why’. With this depth of understanding, you can activate the right strategy and actions ‘to get personal’ more meaningfully. It’s that sweet spot where a deep-seated need is aroused by a personal message.

3. Contextualise your effort

In an article published by The Next Web, it reported a mortuary’s personalisation effort that went wrong. The precision of the mortuary’s targeting is commendable. At Christmas, it sent hampers to residents of a hospice. While it may appear to be a wonderful gesture, it also reminded prospects of their impending death. Suffice to say that there aren’t many people in a hospice who wish for a Christmas gift that rings in the end!

The ultimate marketing personalisation effort is marked with empathy. It relies on technology to make the personalisation effort more human. Observe the wisdom of context in marketing personalisation. Consumers appreciate the effort brands take to address them as individuals. But there is a line drawn in the sand to be respected. Continuously interrogating data about consumers to arrive at the ‘why’ makes this line more visible.

In web development, knowing what to ask for in the contact form is a strategic decision. Asking too many can turn people away. Having the right ones can boost your personalisation effort. Speak to us to find that sweet spot.

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