Is digital marketing trapped in limbo?

Imagine if a customer walked into your store – let’s say a large department store – and you immediately knew that they were graduating in 3 weeks, they like American football (specifically the Longhorns), and that they go out with friends a lot. Armed with this knowledge, you could then guide the shopper through the store predicting what they might be interested in looking at, and therefore creating a more efficient and overall better experience for them, while increasing ROI for your business. Nowadays, with so many consumers, it is near impossible to know anything like this about who shops with you, let alone identify them when they walk in the store. However, with 51% of purchases now made online, there are ways that you can come close to providing this one-to-one high-quality shopping experience digitally.

Currently, digital marketing and user experience is stuck in limbo between reliance on traditional and demographic profiling, and more advanced interest and behavioural targeting. Forty-nine percent of consumers expect brands to customise offers to suit their needs and interests but demographic data provide nothing more than assumptions about the consumer loosely based on research into that age-group, gender, or location- assumptions which can often be wrong and lead to a largely generic shopping experience. Research has shown that when marketers rely on demographic data alone to reach consumers miss out on up-to 70% of mobile shoppers. The technology is out there in order to provide users with a bespoke and personalised experience based on anything from interests, to travel habits, to personality, so why is it that more businesses aren’t adopting it?

 

What do you need to know?

When it comes to what data you should get to know as a marketer, everything from personality traits to where they go on holiday can hold advantages, and together make for a winning combination. Knowing when a customer’s anniversary is, when and where they usually go on holiday, and what they’re interested in can help you predict what they want and when, and gaining insights into their personality type and most active channel of communication can help you predict how is best to market to them.

 

How can you utilise it?

One example is driving loyalty through personalised incentives and rewards. What makes Starbucks rewards program so enticing is that it plays on exclusivity – members have access to regular rewards and one-off offers that non-members do not get, and once these members purchase at least 50 barista drinks per year they are upgraded to a ‘Gold’ account, for which they get access to more rewards and even more exclusive deals. The idea that you, as a consumer, have access to something that not everyone has access to makes you feel more valued and drives you to purchase more from that company. While this example doesn’t utilise behavioural or interest-based profiling, it shows exactly what consumers like- unique and exclusive experiences- one-size-fits-all just doesn’t cut it anymore.

 

Why is personalisation so vital?

56% of consumers say that receiving personalised incentives would improve their brand loyalty – with insights into their interests and more, you can create incentives and rewards exclusively for them. This could include 10% off online purchases for their birthday, the chance to win tickets to Man United (or Liverpool, or whichever team they support), 2-for-1 on swimwear the week before they go on their summer holiday, and half price birthday cards leading up to their son’s 10th birthday.

These insights into your consumer base shouldn’t just be used at one touch point (like a digital advert or a marketing email), they should be used throughout the user journey to ensure that each customer feels valued throughout the entire relationship. A huge 85% of Millennials are more likely to make a purchase if it is personalised to their interests, regardless of whether this is in-store or online, and 39% will actively go out of their way to use a customised offer.

Interest-based targeting is now a very-much achievable goal. People live their lives through the internet, with 3.17 billion internet users, who each have an average of 5.5 social media accounts, meaning the amount of data available is continuously growing. Not only is there an exponentially growing pool of digital data, but consumers want to leverage this data in return for personalised experiences. Now is the time to invest – and benefit – from personalisation.

Author Phillip Gbormittah