You’ve segmented your customers by age, occupation, geography and even the degree of business they bring your brand’s way.
Now imagine sitting down with a random customer and showing them the segment where their profile sits.
“I guess that makes sense,” they might say. “But there’s more to who I am than that.”
And of course they would be right. People are multi-faceted. A person may identify as a parent, but also sees themselves as a social justice activist because of the time they spend volunteering. Another customer might be a senior citizen but is still highly active in sports and enjoys the latest Marvel blockbuster as much as a Gen Z person.
Just because someone’s currently in the “repeat customer” segment, meanwhile, they may be thinking more carefully about future purchases and won’t necessarily stay loyal to your brand for much longer.
Segmentation is a tried-and-true approach to improving the way brands market to their customers, but it only gets you so far. The future is in hyper-personalization – where you leverage a combination of automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and data to create highly contextualized messages to specific customers.
Hyper-personalization goes a step beyond segmentation, which relies on broad trends around how customers have liked or acted upon a brand’s marketing content, and data from third-party cookies.
Companies often reach a plateau with segmentation because it is usually built into the early stages of campaign planning. Using hyper-personalization, on the other hand, becomes deeply woven into every interaction a brand has with each unique customer at every stage of their journey. This includes when they make a purchase, when they seek out service or support and when it’s time to re-engage them.
In the fifth edition of Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer, 56 per cent of customers said they expect all offers to be personalized. As more brands become well-versed in hyper- personalization across the customer journey, those expectations will rise even higher.
The road to hyper-personalization begins with taking better control of all your customer data. Using a platform like Customer 360, for example, brands can bring everything they need to know about each customer into a single unified view.
At that point, it’s a matter of taking the rules-based segmentation you’ve done up until now and begin using AI to recommend how individuals are behaving, the best way to optimize their omni-channel path and hyper-personalize every form of communication. This includes:
Customize advertising to reflect individual interests and needs
Brands tend to think of ads as a mass media form of marketing, but with good data they don’t have to be. Instead, marketers can serve up ads that speak directly to a customer’s favourite products and services or even include call-outs, such as their names. This shows the customer there’s a reason they’re seeing the ad online – and that there’s probably an equally good reason to click through and learn more.
Design landing pages aimed at an audience of one
Though they sometimes seem to have a similar purpose, landing pages should be much more than the digital equivalent of a brochure. They should immediately welcome customers into an environment where they feel recognized. You can do this by displaying offers and pricing that reflect the geography where they’re based, offers based on what they’ve viewed on your site and options to let them reconfigure what’s being shown based on their own preferences.
Price and promote based on a person vs. a campaign
Running a 10% sale to attract young women is a segmentation strategy. Hyper personalization means you use AI to develop an offer for an individual (Let’s call them Brian). You might offer a bigger discount because Brian is one of your most frequent shoppers or is a high spender. You might also use AI to recommend accessories Brian has never noticed on your site before. You could even set a timeline for a promotion or offer based on Brian’s typical habits when he spends with your brand.
Fill in the blanks on their behalf
Every moment of friction you put into a customer journey puts your conversions at risk. The one many brands overlook is when they expect customers to complete detailed online forms in order to place an order to sign up for a service. Automate this chore for your customers and have everything pre-populated when it comes time for them to take the next step. They’ll thank you by taking it much faster.
Send notifications that feel like they’re coming from a personal shopper
A regular text message lets customers know when you’re running a sale. A hyper personalized text message tells a specific customer about the status of their order, such as when it has been shipped. Notifications via e-mail or any other preferred channel should feel the same – as though they’re only getting sent information that relates to who they are, what they like and when they would want to know.
Reimagine what it’s like to be rewarded
Lots of loyalty programs are based on collecting and redeeming points. Hyper personalization treats points as only one piece of the puzzle. Instead, you can use AI to develop rewards and incentives that show how much a brand understands – and appreciates – the relationship every one of their customers has developed with them.
There was a time when hyper-personalization seemed like something only the biggest brands in the world could offer their customers. Thanks to advancements in digital technologies, however, companies of any size, and in almost any industry, can make the most of their data and provide the kind of journey that more customers will want to take – and keep taking.