Is Your Customer Personalization Actually Personal?

Happy customer sign

Andrea Belk Olson investigates the topic of customer personalization and explains how it can add depth to your customer relationship building.

It’s really fascinating to speak with organizations about their personalization strategies. They speak often about things like “customized content” or “customized products”, where a customer can select a unique product color, or filter specific content they want to see on your platform. But is this really personalization?

True personalization is actually centered around knowing the customer, not simply filtering or customizing what you already produce. Personalization is the “wow” factor that can’t be automated, can’t be replicated, and is unique to that individual customer relationship. With so many marketing automation platforms, we’ve gone down the road of thinking we are personalizing offerings and services, and actually lost that true, differentiating customer connection.

Take, for example, a customer that buys $200 worth of product from you. Most companies would identify what they purchased, predictively cross-sell related items, and possibly even share a 10% discount coupon on their next purchase. They would use their insights on the customer’s industry and send over articles and information on trends and best practices. They would maybe even create a portal where the customer could view and access their previous orders, or create a “one-click” reorder option. And this would be deemed “personalization”.

The problem is that this is not game-changing anymore. These basic behaviors are primarily industry standard. If this is your personalization strategy to stand out and differentiate, you’ve fallen short. But consider if you truly understood your customer on a deeper level. For example (and this is a real-life example), let’s say you also see that customer on social media, and you find out she’s a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan. After her purchase, you send a thank you note and a signed Tampa Bay Jersey.

The goal of this personalization strategy isn’t the immediate ROI – but the “wow” factor, and the depth of the relationship you’re building with that customer. In this scenario, 4 weeks later, another customer made a $5,500 purchase. They said “you send my friend a Tampa Bay jersey, and she told me the story and that’s how I found you.” This true personalization is what builds a business and what “word of mouth” marketing is really made of. The ROI will follow.

In short, personalization is about building brand relationships and having a clear vision of how to go about building those relationships – in a uniquely personalized manner. The first step begins with understanding your customers beyond past purchase and facebook likes.

About the Author

Andrea Belk Olson Andrea Belk Olson has a 20-year, field-tested background that provides unique, applicable approaches to creating more customer-centric organizations. A 4-time ADDY® award-winner, she began her career at a tech start-up and led the strategic marketing efforts at two global industrial manufacturers. In addition to writing, consulting and coaching, Andrea speaks to leaders and industry organizations around the world on how to craft effective customer-facing operational strategies to discover new sources of revenues and savings.

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