In today’s marketing landscape, the way you reach a customer is just as important as the people you’re reaching and the message you’re using. Marketers need to be strategic about when to communicate with audiences (in terms of touch points, lifecycle stages and moments of truth) and how to reach them (preferred channels and device agnostic). If a customer doesn’t engage with the primary channel you’re using for outreach – such as email – you’re likely wasting valuable time and budget on communications they’ll never see, much less interact with or respond to.
Marketers need to ensure personalization is an ongoing commitment throughout the customer lifecycle, and not executed only on a campaign basis. Achieving this requires combined use of paid and owned media channels, with individualized content pushed to consumers at strategic touch points that’s also accessible in users’ own time. Below are three ways your brand can master the “where and when” of personalization:
1. Kick off customer relationships by providing value.
Reaching out to someone on a holiday, or their birthday (the, “Happy birthday, thanks for being a customer” email), is one of the most common ways brands personalize their messaging. This approach may check a box and allow you to say you’re personalizing marketing efforts, but these messages don’t provide any value to your customer. From the start of every customer interaction, go beyond simple messages and use meaningful data to create real value and increase customer engagement.
For example, Atlantis Paradise Island found that customers wanted to know more about the resort before their trip, so they could make plans before arriving. The resort created a personalized experience for customers before their arrival, recommending restaurants and other activities. Atlantis’ outbound communications to guests incorporated personalized storytelling and interactive video at three key touch points in the pre-arrival lifecycle to help familiarize and welcome guests before they set foot on the resort. As a result, Atlantis’ email engagement and pre-arrival spend grew significantly, reflecting that personalized outreach provides real value to users.
2. Meet customers on their preferred devices, at their preferred times.
It’s critical to target customers with personalized messages when they’re most likely to be interested in receiving them and ready to take action. For example, when a customer makes an inbound call to your customer support center, your interactive voice response (IVR) system can trigger a follow-up personalized message or video sent to the customer’s mobile they are calling from. This immediate response on the channel the customer is currently on tells the consumer: “the business knows I called and what I need help with.” More so, it delivers proactive and personalized education and action for the customer, answering his questions on the same channel (a mobile device) used to make the initial call and in the moment when it matters to him.
3. From the beginning, prepare to engage at every touch point.
Personalized marketing is only going to get more personal, and the possibilities for savvy marketers are truly exciting. As your brand defines parameters for customer engagement, consider how you’ll make every individual’s experience a unique one at each stage of the customer’s journey – using a combination of content you push toward users, and content they can pull at any time.
Using SmartVideo, AT&T pushes personalized video bills via email within the first month of new subscribers joining and to existing customers who change services. Simultaneously, customers can always access their video bills from the mobile and within the My Account portal. This multi-reach, push-pull effort allows customers to access personalized information when and where it matters to them.
Achieving the perfect balance of reaching consumers with individualized marketing – delivered at the right time, on the right channel – is an art, and it can reap serious rewards in terms of customer activity and ROI. As Forrester’s Brendan Witcher said in our recent webinar, “Individualization done right doesn’t look like personalization… it just looks like a great customer experience.” Mastering when and where to best engage prospects and customers in a personalized way will set your brand up for success, now and in the future.
Replay our webinar with Adweek and Forrester, “Why you’re getting personalization wrong: The future of one-to-one engagement,” to master customer outreach for your brand.