In today’s world, where we speak to audiences digitally more often than in person, it’s becoming more important to personalize the digital delivery of our communications and content to engage our audience.
When I say “speak,” I’m talking about all the electronic interfaces you offer. These include e-mail, websites, e-commerce sites, text messages, push messages as well as your apps. It’s vital that the delivery of information and communications be timely, relevant and contextual in the digital world to effectively engage. In fact, the best way to engage and retain customers is to be as timely and relevant as possible.
Believe it or not, Americans now own more connected devices than there are people in the country. They also spend more time interacting with those devices than any other medium combined. In just a few years, Americans have quickly evolved to expect personalized communications delivered exactly when and where it matters most to them. Some call this phenomenon “mobile moments.”
Successfully Engage & Retain Customers
The marketers I talk to tell me there are significant challenges to keeping up with today’s rapidly changing audience expectations and demands. One of the primary challenges is the ability to capture, harness and instantly take action on their data—in order to engage and retain customers.
Successful digital direct marketing programs leverage four key data sets to deliver the kind of personalized communication experiences that engage and retain customers:
It’s vital to know who you are doing business with. What are their names? Where do they live, work and play?
Digital interfaces—such as mobile apps—present an unparalleled opportunity to capture baseline user data, including the user’s name, e-mail or mobile number. In addition, opt-in rates for mobile apps to receive e-mail, text and push communications can reach 30%–80%, depending on user affinity and interest.
Social media sources are also helpful in building individual customer profiles. You leverage e-mail addresses to match publicly available social media accounts, and then further populate your database with information such as name, occupation, profile description, followers and more.
Finally, third-party data sources (some dating from the direct-mail era) can also provide additional consumer demographic and lifestyle propensities.
Tracking individual behavior can provide powerful insights and generate actionable data. Digital interfaces generate a wealth of data metrics—such as page views, clicks, scans, redemptions, opens, closes, etc.
Apps now have the ability to link a user’s location to data metrics. Tagging latitude and longitude coordinates will identify their location at any given time. You can even measure time spent at a given location.
More precise location data can also be collected with the use of beacons—an increasingly popular choice among retailers. Some retailers even track user presence at competitive locations.
Transaction data are very powerful and predictive. The challenge is: how do you put this to use from a marketing perspective?
Furthermore, integrations are often the “long pole in the tent,” preventing marketers from accessing real-time data. Successful programs typically extract the data in real time, or at a frequency high enough to complement their marketing data stream.
Personalizing Your Communications
In order to truly engage and retain your customers, you must combine these data sources into an easy-to-use segmentation and marketing automation tool. This is really the key to a successful, data-driven personalization program.
You may be wondering, will consumers actually share their personal data with you? Absolutely, according to some surprising results we found this year in our study with mCordis, “Consumer Attitudes to Privacy, Permission and Personalization.” In fact, when we looked at the mobile usage habits of 1,050 users of all ages, we found that consumers are more than willing to share their personal data—if they feel they are getting something worthwhile in return (think royalty rewards, discounts, coupons), and if they trust the content provider.
The bottom line is this: the more personalized your communications with the audience, the better. And this is via e-mail, text, website, e-commerce as well as apps. And the best way to personalize messages for your audience experience is by leveraging demographic, behavioral, location and transaction data. As quickly as possible. Because if you don’t, your competitors will.
Pierre Barbeau is the cofounder and CEO of Moblico, a digital direct marketing company that helps businesses increase engagement and retention with personalized, data-driven digital communications and content. Barbeau’s 20 combined years of mobile experience and direct marketing led him and his team to develop Moblico’s award-winning technology. His experience includes 10 years at Sprint. There he helped drive the first cameraphone picture-sharing service in the U.S., Sprint Picture Mail.