How to start personalising customer communications

Time to read: 5 minutes

According to our latest State of the Connected Customer report, customers aren’t just hoping for online communications to be personalised — they’re expecting it. That can seem like a significant challenge for small to medium businesses who are still in their growth phase.

When Nick Holden, Founder of ModularWalls, was prevented by council from building a brick wall outside of his house, he took matters into his own hands and invented his own category: modular walls. After an appearance on ABC’s The New Inventors, business started to boom and he first saw the power of marketing and engagement.

Today, ModularWalls employs 70 staff and a trade network of around 2,000 partners. With a growth rate of 20–40% year on year, needless to say, when it comes to business growth Nick has learnt a thing or two. Now the challenge for ModularWalls is maintaining sustainable growth by communicating with customers more personally across a wider range of platforms.

Many of the concerns about personalising communications are common across most businesses. So to help get you started, we’ve prepared solutions to some of the frequently asked questions.

Concern #1: How do I connect with my customers?

The days of a single form or platform of communication are long gone. We need to allow the customer to communicate with us in the way they feel most comfortable, whether that’s through SMS, email, phone, or social channels.

The time of day also plays an important part. Most people are at work during the day and want to communicate quickly. But efficient communication means different things to different customers.  A tradie who’s got five minutes might want to SMS or call someone, whereas an office worker might prefer to shoot off a quick email.

Lastly, you should consider your customers’ interests. Celebrity Ink is a group of tattoo parlours that delivers a highly personalised tattoo experience. To help personalise its marketing, it started by capturing what colours, designs, and types of tattoo its customers were interested in. Then it was able to use Pardot to automate personalised emails to its customers, tailored with the content suited to their tastes.

Concern #2: What data do I need to tailor my communications?

You can use almost any customer data to inform your personalisation strategy, including:

  • Customers’ channel preferences
  • Customers’ previous purchases
  • Customers’ engagement with your website, retail stores, etc.
  • Significant dates in your customers’ lives, like birthdays
  • Upcoming world or local events

Using this information, you’ll also start to build an intimate understanding of:

  • Customer personas
  • Each of your markets
  • The customer journey; knowing where they sit, and when to push communications and what type of communications to push at each stage.

Along with the data, you need the right systems in place to accurately manage and target it. This usually means having a single source of truth to rely on, rather than multiple systems competing with each other.

As a collaborative co-working business in Melbourne, CreativeCubes.Co rely heavily on this kind of data to help personalise their marketing. And CreativeCubes.Co CEO Tobi Skovron believes that the best approach for SMBs is to invest early in the data tools that can integrate all of this data into a single source of truth.

If you’re going to back yourself, do it properly. Because if not, it’s going to cost you twice as much — if not more — down the track.”

Tobi Skovron | CEO, CreativeCubes.Co

Concern #3: How do I know what I should focus on?

This is a challenge across all areas of managing a business, not just personalising communications. Knowing what to focus on will vary from business to business, but the best all-round solution is knowing what you don’t need to focus on. Or rephrasing it, what tasks can you automate?

New Zealand-based payment software business PaySauce found ways to automate its lead nurturing processes, rather than relying on sales representatives to personalise these communications manually. And it’s found its sales reps are then able to prioritise hunting new leads, rather than manually curating personalised follow-ups for each individual lead.

The great thing is, no one’s noticed it. Using Pardot to automate our lead management, customers are still offered an experience that’s beautifully personalised, while we continue to meet their every need. The only difference is we’re using our resources more effectively.”

Marie-Claire Andrews | Head of Sales & Marketing, PaySauce
By identifying what elements of personalised communication you can automate, you can focus your employees’ time and resources on what's left.

Concern #4: How do I start the process of customising my communications?

Start by analysing your key customer segments, and where they sit in their journey. From there, you can map out the correct messages at the most appropriate times for those customers, making sure to answer their most common questions.

However, personalising the customer journey is not done in a silo – execution is key.

Marketing and sales can work together to refine the messaging, so any communications picked up by your sales teams are consistent with the personalised messaging you’ve already presented.

Concern #5: How do I get teams to work together?

As many companies find when they go through a digital transformation, culture can take longer to change than technology.

The simplest solution is to ensure everyone relies on the same tools, and the same source of truth. If sales and marketing teams both operate from the same customer data in the same system, it’s far easier to align strategies and initiatives between teams.

Concern #6: Will I see a ROI?

A better customer journey always promotes a better customer experience, which improves your overall conversion rate, which ultimately improves your bottom line.

Starting the process towards tailored communications can be a tough and long process. But at the end of the day, you’re moving your business towards a more personalised model that your customers – and your staff – will enjoy. That’s worth the time and investment.


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