Personalise to Prosper

David Murphy - Member Content

Shalini Devji-Jethwa, Director of Marketing, Europe, at MoEngage, offers a marketer's guide to understanding consumer behaviour and preferences. 

Marketers today largely face three challenges; create consistent branding, generate leads, and retain their loyal customers. This claim is based on research by MoEngage conducted for the report titled 'The Personalization Pulse Check Report 2021', across 1,000 consumers from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Germany.

We asked consumers what frustrates them most when they engage with a brand. 27 per cent of the respondents said, “Inconsistent messaging across channels”. Another 27 per cent said the cause of their annoyance is brands showing them “Irrelevant content or products”.

The findings above compel us to rethink two primary assumptions we, as marketers have made.

Assumption 1: Consumers are not comfortable sharing data with brands.

Truth: Consumers are willing to provide access to their personal and behavioural data if the data is being used to personalise their experience.

Assumption 2: Consumers don’t want to receive regular communication from brands or are bothered by it.

Truth: 39 per cent of the respondents (out of 1000 surveyed) wanted to see weekly communication with brands and 16 per cent daily. Indicating that consumers are willing to exchange data and receive regular communication from brands as long as it is relevant to them and their preferences.

With constant innovation in platforms and technology available to marketing teams, it’s often forgotten that we’re meant to market to people. To market to them effectively, we must understand our customers. Availability of data to predict consumer behaviour isn’t a challenge in today’s day and age. Using this data ethically and ensuring that the consumer’s privacy isn’t threatened is what we need to be mindful of.

Before going on to chalk out your personalization strategy, it is essential to understand what behaviours to track, what trends to be mindful of and when personalisation can get creepy.

How not to get too personal with personalisation
There’s a thin line between brands using data to create relevant and valuable offerings and going overboard and into creepy territory. The “We want to know everything” approach is usually the downfall. The immediate example that comes to mind is the Tale of Target. The retailer believed that soon-to-be parents were one of the most lucrative demographics. It was of importance to track any sudden deviations from usual shopping habits as this would be indicative of an expectant parent, exhausted and tired, with little or no thought to brand preferences. Based on these pattern deviations, Target developed a pregnancy prediction score. Anything triggering this scorecard and the retailer would start sending you special deals on baby items. This system backfired when Target started sending these deals to a teenager when her father wasn’t aware of the pregnancy. Eek! Must’ve triggered a nightmare!

Another recent example is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Ad, the hyperbolic representation of how intrusive brands can be in their effort to collect data.

Such is the personalisation paradox. A deciding factor when done right, and creepy, when not.

Scaling up: how to implement personalisation and the possible challenges
The result that personalisation promises drives most marketers to go straight to giddily typing “Examples of successful personalised campaigns” on Google - completely skipping the strategising and orchestration of it. Before implementing your personalised campaign ideas there are a few prerequisites that will help you build an omnichannel personalisation strategy.

There might be a few hurdles you may face along this journey, collecting and integrating data from different engagement channels, gathering these to create a comprehensive customer profile, using the right data points as a base to build your personalization efforts on etc. To make it easier for marketers to build an effective personalisation plan that doesn’t break at scale, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to include the right data points to track, consumer behaviour trends and much more.

Identifying the right intent indicators
21 per cent of consumers have adopted mobile app and email as primary channels of communication with brands, while SMS and push notifications are emerging as new communication channels. With consumers growing more accepting towards multiple new channels of communication their journey has become non-linear and multi-faceted.

Source: Personalization Pulse Check Report 2021 

It is an obvious challenge, to have an abundant amount of data and identify the datapoints that are relevant indicators of consumer behaviour. When do they want to see or hear from a brand, what channels are they present on, what kind of messaging are they most likely to respond to, a good marketing strategy should be formulated keeping all these factors in mind. This approach of making decisions on the most effective channel, communication, frequency-based on consumer behaviour and deliver through technology has come to be known as insights-led engagement.

Here are a few key indicators to help you gauge consumer behaviour and make a reliable deduction for your campaigns:

1. Communication Frequency: When, and how often do your consumers want to hear from you is something every marketer should know before sending out communication multiple times only to annoy your consumer and drive them away from your brand. 39 per cent respondents say they want to hear from brands weekly, whereas 25 per cent say once a month.

2. Personalisation expectations:How do consumers expect brands to personalise?

Source: Personalization Pulse Check Report 2021 

What information does your consumer want you to know and base your personalisation efforts on? We’ve established that “Hi Firstname” just doesn’t suffice anymore. Consumers want brands to personalise their experiences based on their previous purchase history (26 per cent) and interests (21 per cent).

3. Post-pandemic shopping preference: The pandemic has forced consumers to alter their buying habits. This change is more prominent in baby boomers, who’ve had an increased online shopping presence in recent times. Overall 36 per cent of respondents are buying more online due to the pandemic, while 17 per cent have started buying from a new brand. When analysing the split of the consumers who moved to online we saw, 32 per cent were board members and 23 per cent C-suite.

4: Omnichannel strategy: An omnichannel strategy is indicative of an approach to personalisation across physical stores and online touchpoints. It focuses more on personalising the experience during the moments or triggers that precede a purchase instead of only being focused on one channel.

There are also a couple of other key considerations:

A digital-first approach
Digital transformation has become a survival necessity today. Brands who have jumped on the digital transformation bandwagon have captured revenue opportunities that others have missed. A prime example is that of Sports Cafe, an online sports platform that observed a 120 per cent increase in time spent on their website by adding web push to their digital channels.

AI: A Smart Marketer’s Aid
Artificial Intelligence, has eliminated the siloed approach brands had a decade ago, struggling to connect, analyse data on different platforms and deliver effective content.  Today, AI can analyse data and suggest the most relevant content that can be sent to your audience and that too in real-time.

With consumers expecting more from brands, personalisation isn’t limited to being a competitive advantage or an added advantage that’s good to “have”. With consumers accepting interactions with newer brands it has become indispensable for brands to deliver messaging tailor-made for it to be effective. Read the “Personalization Pulse Check Report 2021” to understand consumers preferences, behaviour and shopping trends.

About the author
Shalini is a passionate senior marketer and brings with her over 10 years of experience working for a number of leading SaaS companies such as BounceX & Sailthru.

Her expertise spans across demand generation, PR, content strategy, field and digital marketing. Currently, Shalini heads up the European marketing division at MoEngage.