Importance of Personalisation for businesses

If I were to tell you that the content in this blog has been written specifically catering to your taste in reading. Would you read through or skip? There is a 66 percent probability that you get interested reveals this infographic which states that there is more of a possibility a user pays attention or consumes, the product or service on offer if it has been personalised.

There is an increased possibility you would be more inclined to go through the blog if I were to personalise by mentioning your name as this study points out. The growing relevance and impact of personalisation stems from the fact that it clears ambiguity and establishes a one to one connect. This is the premise for this blog post that tries to underline the importance of personalisation for businesses in current times. TechTarget, describes personalisation as a means of meeting the customer’s needs more effectively and efficiently, making interactions faster and easier, consequently, increasing customer satisfaction and the likelihood of repeat visits.

“Consumers today are bombarded with more marketing messages across more channels than ever before, and the vast majority of these communications are irrelevant,” says Charles Nicholls, SVP Product Strategy, Marketing Solutions at SAP Hybris.“ Nicholls observation was echoed by consumers In a study conducted by Forrester on behalf of SAP Hybris, 40 percent of customers mentioned they did not receive anything of interest, 44 percent felt they were getting too many offers and promotions, 37 percent regularly delete email offers and promotions, 40 percent said they had unsubscribed to or opted out because they felt overwhelmed, while 61 percent who were unimpressed by the personalisation efforts said there was little chance they would look into future offers and promotions. Misdirected efforts not only upset the customers they can distance them forever. The SAP Hybris study also pointed out that as many as 70 percent of customers were well aware that the personal information they share online is being used to provide them with personalised experiences. A good 74 percent customers expressed comfort sharing their information in lieu of personalised services or products. Customers being aware that their personal information is being used by businesses and their inclination to share information clearly indicates customers quest to experience personalised offers and services.  Validating customers preference for personalisation, data from Infosys recorded 78 percent customers expressing willingness to buy again from the business that provides for personalised offers, products and services.

What is further fuelling the need for personalisation is the awareness that the consumer is equipped with, thanks to the readily available information on the internet. As many as 81 percent of B2C customers do an online search before making a purchase, while in the case of B2B 89 percent do their research before making the purchase. As the customer approaches businesses with the knowledge on products and services which in many instances are similar to competitors, personalisation can stand out as a vital differentiator. Customer service is one touch point where the customer can be won over through personalised attention. A study by RightNow states that 85 percent of customers were ready to pay up to 25 percent more if the business provided them with superior customer service. Similarly the study also underlined that 55 percent customers were willing to recommend a business owing to the outstanding service it provides.

Importance of Internet and connected Devices

The increase in the use of internet enabled handheld devices, like smartphones, tablets etc is also abetting the need for personalisation. Smartphones or internet enabled mobile devices are personal devices or as the study by Tune describes it, the everything device: the communication, the gaming, the learning, the buying, the reading, the watching, the tracking, the remote controlling device. While it provides for 24/7 on the go connectivity for customers, it gives businesses direct sight into the personal data about the customer enabling a better understanding of the customer. Since customers are consuming and sharing a lot more through their mobile devices, well aware that marketers and businesses have sight on their online activity. Their demand for personalisation is comparatively high. The medium of smartphones, internet enabled mobile devices and wearables is out spacing the use of internet on desktops. The shift from stationary desktops to the convenient on the go mobile devices as the preferred channel to access the internet is evident in the case of US where internet use on mobile devices surpassed internet use on desktops in March 2015. There is all the possibility the trend will spread globally as approximately 50 percent of the world’s population already owns a smartphone with the figure expected to touch 80 percent by 2020. The increase in use of the internet on mobile devices is a ready reckoner for businesses that their efforts at wooing the customer by default should have a personalised touch for the one to one connect it provides. What can ably assist the efforts of businesses to personalise on mobile is the introduction of applications. There is a growing demand on part of mobile phone users when it comes to applications. A study by Flurry points to a 58 percent year on year increase in the overall use of applications. Among the different app categories personalisation based apps grew by 344 percent through 2015.

The colossal amount of information aided by technology has strengthened the customer putting him a step ahead of businesses. Along with this, technology has enabled and provided the means for businesses to catch up. Businesses can understand about their customers in detail by capturing more and more information about them. While information on a customer’s online activity can be gauged through cookies, tracking and other tools, known as implicit methods of data collection. On the other hand, personal data collected through explicit methods requires action and consent of the customer. It could be through registration forms, surveys, signing up for a webinar or other means. The use of applications on mobile also provides businesses with direct sight into the customer’s online activity and personal information they have shared. The potential of mobile applications can be gauged by their demand expected to touch an approximate 350 billion downloads by 2020. Mobile applications as a medium to personalise can give businesses a competitive edge over competition for the convenience it provides to the customer, simultaneously providing businesses with valuable information the user shares. This has enabled businesses to understand customers at the individual level by connecting all the captured information with customer online identity.

The importance of personalisation has increased multifold in the last few years propelled by a maturing internet, enabling technology and growing awareness among customers. Personalisation is the need of the hour for businesses to ensure growth and success. Businesses not personalising the user experience and interactions stand to lose out to competition as 91 percent marketers have an ongoing plan to invest in personalisation.

For businesses that are refraining from personalising their products and services, concerned about investments, there is evidence available that the return on investment for businesses personalising is positive. A report by Capgemini states that businesses personalising are experiencing a 26 percent lift in profits overall, while another report points out to 78 percent marketers stating they experienced a boost in revenue using personalisation automation systems.

The goal of experiencing success and growth for any business is met when they meet the demands of the customer. Personalisation is what the consumer today demands as 86 percent consumers confessing personalisation has some impact on their decision making. A fairly good percentage of consumers to overlook.

Businesses should not consider personalisation as a one time sales pitch that enables a sale. It is much more, attending to the customer through the buying cycle and nurturing the relationship even after the sales process is complete. When personalisation satisfies the customer, it transcends into loyalty. A report from Forrester indicates 84 percent of marketers approving that personalisation drives loyalty. A loyal base of customers makes your business future ready helping you take confident strides into the future as opposed to attracting new customers. An Econsultancy report suggests 70 percent businesses believe retaining customers as less draining on resources compared to attracting new one’s.

Personalisation: the way forward

Personalisation_blogBusinesses also need to look at personalisation as a means of better connecting with the millennial population, generation between 18 to 36 years, which by 2025 will comprise two third of world population. It is no secret that millennials have grown up in the lap of technology, experiencing life on the go on their smartphones or mobiles. Paige O’Neill, CMO of SDL in an interview with Forbes mentions, ‘Millennials’ behaviours and preferences are changing the way brands have traditionally engaged with consumers. This demographic is part of the “always-connected” generation and therefore expects content to be delivered across devices, channels and in the language they prefer. A global study by SDL found 46 percent of millennials do not mind sharing personal data if it means a better personalised experience that refrains from entertaining irrelevant offers. Millennials also have a soft spot for social platforms spending on average an hour on social networks connecting through smartphones, indicating the likelihood of getting gen ‘Y’s attention through social.

Social networks no longer stand just for socialising but have blossomed out to be a platform for multiple other activities. Prominent among the increased activities is the use of social media by businesses. Linkedin in early 2014 revealed that 81 percent businesses currently are using social networks and around 94 percent are using it for the purpose of marketing. The use of social helps businesses get into the personal circle of customers, especially the millennial generation, helping understand the customer better for the purpose of personalisation.

To sum up, my favourite joint is a neighbourhood cafe that serves me my favourite breakfast menu. They serve me the same bacon and toast but ensure they never miss the extra cheese in my plate of scrambled eggs besides ensuring that my favourite corner is made available to me when I show up. The result of their personalised service, they have found a loyal, repeat customer in me, who has introduced a dozen if not more, new customers.

I am sure you too would have a favourites list that includes your favourite salon, cafe or website not just because they provide you the best quality products and services but because they give individual attention, personalise and make you feel special. Do share your experience of exceptional personalised service that left an impression, your acknowledgement would be an apt reward for the business that made the effort to personalise.

Ankur Sharma

About 

Ankur is the VP of India Operations for LoginRadius, a rapidly-expanding Customer Identity Management Platform. Ankur's primary goal is to help businesses use Social Login, manage Profile Data, and centralize Customer Profile Storage! Connect with Ankur on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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