Mike Harris, VP, Monetate, examines the place of personalisation at peak and how best to serve new and returning customers.
HAVE YOU ever considered what personalisation and a dog have in common? My guess is that you probably haven’t, as it’s quite an unlikely comparison. However, they’re a lot more similar than you may think. As the saying goes, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas, and this is exactly the same when it comes to adopting personalisation. Whilst peak trading season is a clear focus for retailers, those most successful with delivering a continuing relevant experience for consumers will be using personalisation the entire year round; not just during the festive season. Personalisation requires dedication, persistence and commitment.
While brands increasingly are able to match each other on price, delivery and service, the customer experience has quickly become a key differentiator for retailers to stand out from the competition. So what are the results of embracing personalisation and tailoring customer experiences? Some brands have found that using personalisation increases the spend of returning shoppers to nearly double online in comparison to new visitors. It’s these customers that will be vital during peak shopping periods such as Christmas, and delivering an engaging, relevant experience throughout the entire year will ensure you’re their retailer of choice when it comes to seasonal shopping.
One brand demonstrating the importance of a year-round personalised experience is Waitrose. It used last year’s festive period to engage its audience through ‘Turkey Targeting’. Using customer data collected from its MyWaitrose members, the grocer was able to swiftly identify those who had previously purchased a turkey with them, but had yet to do so that Christmas. Through personalisation, Waitrose then targeted one million shoppers with specific messaging to encourage them to buy their turkey that year. Not only was this a key chance to up-sell and maximise online sales, it also drove in-store visitors, with a £5 off incentive when collecting from a local store. The year-round personalisation approach meant Waitrose had the data from the previous year to target shoppers with relevant content at the right time.
However, targeting existing customers shouldn’t come at the expense of enticing new ones. It’s equally as important for retailers to ensure they are converting visitors from pay per click advertising to new customers throughout the year, in order to convert each shopper in the lead up to peak.
Be it new or returning customers, each individual will have their own specific shopping habits and preferences. While one shopper may leave their entire Christmas shopping until the last minute, with little or no idea of what they’re actually looking for, others will have meticulously planned their Christmas purchases, down to the very last roll of gift wrap and many months in advance. This is an opportunity retailers cannot afford to miss and demonstrates exactly why personalisation is for life, and not just for peak trading.
So, how exactly can brands maximise on peak trading using personalised customer experiences?
Take Black Friday for example – look at some brands’ Black Friday promotions and you may think it’s a stock clearance, with a range of seemingly random items appearing on the homepage. Instead, brands can use personalisation to focus on targeting each shopper individually, taking into consideration previous buying, browsing and behavioural CRM data, to drive only the most relevant content. Cutting the clutter not only lets the customer focus on known products of interest, but means retailers will be more likely to convert sales – turning those difficult browsers into buyers. For example, why would a retailer encourage a shopper to buy a black dress if the visitor is a male? Or why would persistent buyers of mountain-bike accessories from a cycling store receive road bike promotions? This is where personalisation comes into play.
Personalisation is the way to move from Black Friday madness, to an effective digital approach across all digital channels – and we don’t just mean the basic ‘Dear Bob’ email marketing, but personalised ‘in the moment’ content. Retailers must understand shopper behaviour by considering real-time attributes, historic purchase data and even geographical location to get ‘under the skin’ of their customers, and create content that is unique and relevant to the individual. By using a year-round personalisation strategy, retailers can pull specifics from previously collected data and match it with real-time customer data to build a targeted customer experience.
Helly Hansen, the famed Scandinavian adventure clothier, did just that during Black Friday. By altering its merchandise with product badges, Helly Hansen saw an extra $22,270 incremental revenue taken from 15% of product badging during the Black Friday weekend. Personalisation gave Helly Hansen the power to control its peak season outcomes with a far more seamless and targeted approach. Retailers should implement a strategy that has the capabilities to add, delete and change campaigns to improve the customer shopping experience all year round.
Enhancing your online experience is one step, but for a more seamless and effective peak trading shopping experience other devices should be factored in. Customers are turning increasingly to their mobile devices and this is unsurprising as mobile experiences continue to improve. Thanks to new mobile checkout solutions like Apple Pay and PayPal Mobile Express, mobile is increasingly the device of choice. With many customers now heading straight to their mobiles to shop; retailers should be investing time and effort in improving their mobile offering.
As mobile continues to grow against more traditional ecommerce channels, this presents marketers with a huge opportunity. The first step is to look at what mobile visitors want to do and enable them to do it easily and efficiently. Compared to desktop visits, bounce rates on mobile are 50% higher and add-to-cart rates are 30% lower. More personalised, frictionless mobile experiences will yield even bigger business results during peak periods.
Giving personalised, relevant content to customers throughout the year, sets any retailer ahead of the competition in the run-up to peak trading. By utilising their data and creating targeted customer experiences integrated seamlessly across devices, retailers will give consumers the experiences that, like a dog, they’ll love for life, not just Christmas.