Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why personalisation will be key to winning market share in a fragile global economy

By Jake Athey, VP Marketing and Customer Experience, Widen

The global events of 2020 have had a huge impact on the strategies and outlook for companies across the globe. Only those firms which adopt an agile approach, allowing them to pivot swiftly in times of change, will survive this storm.

One of the hardest-hit sectors has been retail. From the end of March to June 2020, non-food sales in stores for items such as clothing were 46.8% lower, according to the joint British Retail Consortium-KPMG monitor. The slump has led to widespread job cuts, with big brands including Boots, John Lewis, Harrods, and most recently Marks & Spencer, downsizing their workforces.

Now, more than ever, companies are fighting for market share. If businesses want to motivate their audience to take action, they must tailor every interaction consumers have with the brand. One of the most important tactics in an organisations armoury is personalisation – using data to adapt the customer experience to the specific needs and desires of individuals in the hope of securing their much-needed support. 

Brands that provide a more tailored, personalised, online shopping experience can expect to see a boost in conversions. According to strategic digital consultancy Cohaesus’ report on personalisation, 72% of consumers will only engage with retailers through personalised communication, and 90% of customers are willing to share their behavioural data if it results in a cheaper and easier shopping experience, or gets them something in return.

It is almost universally agreed that when it comes to shopping online, personalisation wins in terms of sale conversions and brand loyalty. Personalisation is changing how retailers reach, interact with and utilise customer data, and the result is smarter marketing campaigns that are uniquely catered to each customer’s interests: today’s shoppers will not settle for less.

Personalisation is particularly important when it comes to trust. In marketing, too little can be lazy and inconsiderate, and too much is creepy and seen as an invasion of one’s privacy. Strike the balance, however, and personalisation can exude authenticity and instil a sense of trust with customers. Doing this well requires significant creativity and effort, going way beyond the basics of a birthday email or seasonal advertisements. 

There are three factors to consider when embarking on a personalisation strategy:

Tech talks: think about the level of personalisation that modern technologies facilitate for brands. For example, location-based technologies help businesses deliver personalised notifications and information to event attendees based on their interests. This level of personalisation helps brands communicate what they want to share, but in a way that fits into and enhances someone’s personal experience and life.

Tailor your assets: A digital asset management (DAM) system gives you control over the way people use your brand, while also enabling personalisation of your digital assets. For instance, you can provide global teams with what we call Templates. These “blueprints” allow teams to personalise the actual content in the language, voice and context that’s right for their unique audiences without changing locked brand elements like fonts, colours and logos. You can also leverage the DAM system to create simple microsites (aka Portals) to curate and hand-deliver personalised assets to segments of users like dealers, regional partners, sales teams or other collaborators.

Immersive marketing: Top consumer brands already lead with a visual content strategy because it pays to engage first and explain later. Their next step is to turn visual media into immersive experiences, which will put consumers in the creative driver’s seat because this is where they want to be. They want to choose or design the Snapchat filters. They want to speak with Alexa and Siri, not type into an impersonal keyboard. In short, people want a better integration between physical life and digital experience. Online marketing will go beyond the screen to serve people who wish to look, talk, listen, do, move, touch “” and taste. Immersive marketing will, eventually, serve content for all five senses.  

For today’s customer, personalisation goes beyond a basic understanding of their demographics, such as age, sex and location. It requires a deeper understanding of consumers’ preferences and taste. Marketing teams should only be targeting customers with relevant content “” a food store, for example, should not share details of its meat range with its vegetarian customers.

Relevancy is central to building trusted transactions with customers based on their data. As an end-user, we are more than happy to divulge our data if we are targeted with only personalised marketing. Brands that use personal information, like recommendation engines, appear more helpful with their content and have more of a chance of gaining our trust. Any mistakes, indirect marketing or hard-selling though, and this trust will be lost far quicker than it was won.