By Stuart Russell, CSO, Planning-inc
According to the ONS, back in 2020, 92% of adults in the UK were recent internet users. That was even before the entire population was forced to stay at home and search online for the products and services they needed, so imagine how crucial it is today.
With the digital race speeding up by the minute, it’s become more common to see conventional businesses across industries make efforts to level up digital maturity, and your competitors are no exception. This is because, according to McKinsey’s latest ‘Next in Personalisation’ study, it’s the companies excelling at customer intimacy that generate faster rates of revenue growth than their peers. Simply put, the closer you get to the consumer, the bigger the gains.
And before your marketing team thinks hyper-personalising campaigns will be the differentiator for that slice of the 4.66 billion of internet users you’re trying to reach, here’s one for you: personalisation is actually seen as an expectation by 71% of consumers. This means that tailored marketing is no longer a nice-have, but a must. And customers expect more from brands now.
While marketers continue to grapple with this approach, it’s important to remember that there’s more to digital marketing than achieving one-to-one personalisation with customers or securing immediate transactions, and this is where you can truly set yourself apart.
Launching a digital marketing strategy and enhancing it with a CRM software shouldn’t really be in question at this point. It’s cost-effective, generates leads, and has an infinite engagement and retention potential.
But that’s the issue with sticking to the standard playbook: it’s so fundamental that almost every other business can do it; and is doing it. With the prevalence of data readily available to marketers, customers expect high-level personalisation to be part of this value exchange. Despite this, effective personalisation still presents a challenge.
However, there are a few brands out there stepping up to the challenge and showing the way beyond personalisation, like eBay. During the pandemic, in the worst of times for the retail industry, the eCommerce giant showed exceptional empathy to struggling retailers by launching an accelerator program called ‘Up & Running’, which was specifically designed to help those without e-commerce experience to sell online. Back then, the company pledged up to $100 million in support for small businesses across North America, which, according to eBay, resulted in a remarkable increase in their business registration numbers.
Taking advantage of the pandemic and its subsequent dramatic rise in eCommerce might have secured immediate transactions, but certainly not loyalty like ‘Up & Running’ did.
Show your true colours
It’s hard connecting with someone, but it’s more difficult to connect with a brand that shows little regard for anything besides driving revenue. Your firm surely has a purpose beyond making money, and sharing yours should go from being a to the priority.
According to Harvard Business Research, 64% of consumers connect with a brand generally because of a shared value, and digital marketing and customer data can certainly help your firm achieve this level of connection. You can’t put a price on trust and loyalty, and that goes for both customers and brands, as building this level of intimacy will be beneficial for both.
The truth is that your digital marketing strategy will only be as successful as the purpose you put behind it. Referencing McKinsey’s report again, companies which excel at customer intimacy “generate faster rates of revenue growth than their peers”, so the key differentiator will be showing your true purpose and making an effort to see what resonates the most with your customers, ultimately allowing the firm to better understand its customers.
Predict and target
Words are one thing; but actions are another. This type of hyper-personalisation certainly requires a level of sophistication that would necessitate robust data and creative teams to implement in-house, but there are other ways businesses can still keep the pace and deliver empathic, purpose-driven messages to the right people at the right time.
Machine learning for one can do the job, as it can easily take a company’s first-party data to industrialise and operationalise insights across the whole customer base, ultimately making CRM more effective and scalable. The only real problem in all this though, would be refusing to see that personalisation is far from being the finish line, and that dodging the solutions that enable its augmentation at scale will inevitably put you behind others.
With three-quarters of consumers switching to a new store, product, or buying method during the pandemic, the businesses that grew fastest drove 40 percent more of their revenue from personalisation compared to slower-growing counterparts, demonstrating the importance of creating content that not only resonates with customers and creates deeper connections, but having processes that make it easy to implement and consistently improve upon.
Ultimately, when it comes to this type of content, there is always more room for improvement.