Strategizing for omnichannel personalization at scale
Important considerations and high-impact use cases for marketers incorporating various channels and touchpoints within their personalization strategy.
Once the main vehicle for how brands connected with visitors online, these days, the website is just one of many channels used to nurture relationships and influence purchase decisions. From email to mobile app, call centers, digital kiosks, and more, brands are discovering the key to acquiring and maintaining customers requires delivering a tailored experience, regardless of whether they are interacting on-site, or off.
In this blog post, we’ll outline some important considerations when it comes to incorporating various channels and touchpoints within your personalization strategy as well as highlight some high-impact use cases for each.
Establishment of a cohesive data set
Much like how proper website personalization relies on a complete 360 degree/single view of the customer, so too does experience optimization across channels. It is, therefore, incredibly important that vital information such as real-time behavior on-site, online and offline conversion history, geography, product affinities, cross-device activity, or any other piece of data acquired about a visitor is able to flow freely throughout your marketing stack to maintain consistency and relevancy in experiences from one channel to the next.
However, the more systems of engagement (SoE) employed to handle various areas of your customer experience, the greater the likelihood you will face issues with data fragmentation. Built to integrate, consolidate, and unify data from any available source, an omnichannel personalization platform is recommended to achieve this level of cohesion.
The shift to APIs
As more channels are added to the customer journey, Product & Engineering teams must now work in tandem with Marketing to build experiences that will engage audiences in new and meaningful ways. To do this with a greater degree of flexibility and control, many are turning to Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), allowing them to embed personalization and user-level data into:
- Mobile apps
- Digital displays
- Interactive screens
- Clienteling apps
- Point-of-sale (POS)
- Call centers
Though much more involved, implementation via the server-side comes with many advantages over the traditional client-side approach, offering full visibility into all relevant aspects of a user’s online experience, including their behavior, the messaging they have been exposed to in each channel (certain test variations or recommendation strategies, etc.), as well as how they engaged with it. And as decisioning happens centrally, it is much easier for teams to orchestrate all their apps – be it web, native, hybrid, or whatever the next trend is. Lastly, it simplifies linking between the various channels and devices, executing based on a customer’s full data profile.
Identify strategic areas of opportunity
Before attempting to get in front of consumers in as many places as possible, you should carefully balance the need to optimize existing traditional digital channels and those that are considered emerging. For even though expectations are constantly rising, this pressure to be everywhere can often have adverse effects on the overall customer experience, especially if teams don’t have a clear understanding of how business value can be derived from a specific channel.
Like with any test idea, you can vet channels and touchpoints to experiment with using the same tried-and-true personalization framework, identifying strategic opportunities from within your data to inform decision-making.
- Who are my buyers?
- What are my high-value acquisition channels?
- Which customers exhibit strong lifetime value?
- Where are customers dropping off in the purchase funnel?
- What are each customer’s preferred devices and channels to be engaged on?
- What utility can I provide current customers to increase loyalty?
Once you’ve gleaned enough insights, you can better prioritize which channels to incorporate within your testing roadmap, even factoring in room to play around with digital touchpoints outside of your current marketing ecosystem.
Cross-channel personalization use cases
Now that you know which channels you’d like to scale your efforts to, it’s time to determine the types of personalization use cases you can implement to maximize your impact. Below, find a few examples of how leading brands are delivering tailored experiences across a variety of channels and touchpoints.
Tailor email content based on key events
When compared to other channels such as social media, display ads, and video marketing, 59% of marketers cited email as their biggest source of ROI. Yet despite the demand from email, there is often a disconnect between what happens on-site and in the inbox.
To close the gap and ensure high engagement, you can test sending emails with personalized content and recommendations, or trigger automated emails based on real-time behavior and important lifecycle events.
For example, if a visitor leaves the site with items in their cart, use the chance to remind them of what has been left behind and offer promotional deals to help close the conversion loop.
Optimize retargeting campaigns on paid media
While WordStream claims retargeting ads are, on average, 76% more likely to be clicked on than a typical display ad, a separate study from Nanigans found that 88% of consumers see ads for products they’ve already purchased.
Without accurate audience data, ad campaigns can quickly become “spray and pray” rather than finely tuned to a specific audience segment or individual. But leveraging a unified and up-to-date dataset from which to build experience, you can deliver correctly targeted campaigns for even greater results.
For example, you could run a campaign based on purchase history to avoid shoppers who already converted, recouping potentially wasted media spend and improving the overall end-user experience.
Recommend personalized items within chatbots
In a report by Juniper Research, chatbot interactions are forecasted to generate $112 billion in retail sales (in the form of cost savings) over the next few years, representing a huge area of opportunity for marketers.
An excellent tool for providing answers to simple questions, easing the communication process, and quickly resolving complaints, while great for streamlining support, chatbots can also be utilized to personalize the customer experience.
Imagine a customer is waiting to be connected to a sales representative – you can capitalize on the valuable time and attention by showcasing additional items of interest from within the chatbot screen based on contextual and behavioral data.
Tailor call center communications
While chatbots and self-service solutions continue to grow online, call centers remain a major point of customer interaction for brands across industries such as financial services, travel and hospitality, media and telecommunications, online retail, and others.
However, many times, customer service representatives lack the critical user information necessary to contextualize inbound phone calls, creating a frustrating support experience.
Now, let’s consider the impact of having access to a caller’s complete data profile – using information captured on-site along with their past purchase history, preferences, and more, you can better facilitate the shopping journey by tailoring communications and even recommendations to the individual over the phone.
Dynamically change mobile app elements
According to Comscore, mobile apps now account for 63% of time spent with digital media, a 13% increase from 50% in 2017. Additionally, time spent consuming retail content via mobile apps has reached 62%, 2X more than that of desktop and 4X more than mobile web.
With a surge in mobile app usage, consumers have made their preference for navigating the online experience clear, and teams should do their best to employ strategies that provide channel-specific value and are optimized for smaller screens.
As an example, the process of clicking through category pages and layering in filters can be time-consuming on mobile. So instead of forcing the user to start this work from scratch, personalize the navigation experience, surfacing filters according to each user’s unique affinities.
Utilize digital kiosks for product discovery
More and more retail may be moving online, but people will always enjoy the benefits brick and mortar provides, which is why companies like Amazon and many others are prioritizing truly immersive in-store experiences.
Outside of cashier-less checkout and advanced facial recognition technology, digital kiosks offer a unique, two-way channel of interaction between a brand and its customers, collecting pertinent information about their preferences and needs that can be used to influence their time spent in-store and online.
For instance, you can prompt users to complete a guided survey to learn more about the purpose of their visit or any product preferences they may have, highlighting relevant items and even where to find them in the store.
There is no one customer journey
If the influx in channels and touchpoints has taught us anything, it’s that there is no one path to purchase anymore, presenting additional opportunities to engage with and influence consumers in a multitude of places. But if teams want to extend the customer experience beyond their existing scope, they’ll need to do some work up front to make sure the data, strategies, and resources are in place to succeed with every new outlet.