By: Rena Gadimova
Challenging times provide opportunities for those who seek (and see) them — opportunities for companies to show their customers and the rest of the world that they are there to help when it matters most. Sometimes the course of action is obvious, but reaching each of your customers with authentic and meaningful offers requires data-driven personalized content.
The broadly popular decisions are often easy to see and implement. When campuses were closed and classes moved online, tech companies stepped up to offer their products to students for free while they finished the semester remotely. Understanding that many students lacked access to the technologies needed to complete their coursework off-campus made providing free access an obvious decision to help people navigate a challenging time.
But what about when you’re not sure what exactly you can do for your customers, what would make the greatest impact in the most meaningful way? How do you avoid flooding the inboxes of every person who has ever given you their email with those tone-deaf messages that reek of desperation and the worst opportunism? This is where data analytics helps you see and think beyond the obvious and connect with your customers creatively and with empathy.
Do data science with empathy and creativity Finding the deeper human stories within the mountains of data – they need and the emotion of this moment – has never been more important for you or your customers.
In fact, your customers expect to hear from you and to see you doing your part, and in the right way: helping others. Edelman reports that 62 percent of consumers see brands as critically important for their country to get through this challenging time. If you ever doubted that brands play an integral role in society, doubt no more.
That is an enormous vote of confidence and a great responsibility. Now is the time to acknowledge that trust and invest in it by meeting and exceeding customer expectations – doing good work in the community as well as rewarding their trust on a personal level. Demonstrate that you see them as an individual rather than nameless, faceless data points among a collective customer segment. Understand what they expect from you and stay connected in a personalized way.
Make it personal — as in a conversation — as in a human. Personalized content is more important than ever as so many people’s lives have changed dramatically. It’s an emotionally intense time, sensitive and volatile. Room for tone-deaf mistakes is razor-thin. Yet gathering and analyzing real-time data has accelerated along with the need to respond with speed and precision before the moment changes. Delivering the best-personalized content requires strong data-driven strategies and a seamless omnichannel experience to meet people where they are and how they are.
Think of it as a conversation. Imagine that someone is telling you about their day – the highs and the lows and everything in between – and you’re either not fully listening or you don’t quite understand something they’ve said. You have a couple of options. 1) Respond with some generic fluff that could apply to almost anything, or, 2) you can guess what they’ve said and respond from that. For both options, the probability of success is as low as the stakes are high.
Your customers share their thoughts, feelings, likes, dislikes, and what they did last weekend as data. And they know when you’re not listening. When you just keep sending irrelevant emails and other marketing content their way without seeming to be aware of who they are or what they want.
According to Forbes, “40 percent of executives say that personalization has had a direct impact on maximizing sales, basket size, and profits in direct-to-consumer channels.”
Use your data to understand your customer. Pay attention to what they say back to you through the data. Adjust your messaging and offers accordingly, and keep adjusting, because your customers are going to keep changing. If your customer changes the subject, keep up and don’t go on talking about something else. Show up with the right message at the right time on the right channel for the right customer. You’ll find the invitation among the consensually shared data.
Create and deliver the data-driven personalized content your customers want and expect Moving to a post-COVID world, community and the sense of connection are likely to remain highly important. This will include customer relationships. Those businesses who have made the right moves to be helpful and be a light for customers going through an incredibly difficult time will have taken customer trust and loyalty to levels rarely seen except by the oldest and strongest brands.
Those brands have built passionate customer loyalty over the decades. Difficult times calling for creativity and new ideas open opportunities for burgeoning brands like Zoom to show up in a big way by providing technology for the millions of people suddenly working and learning from home. Building your brand and solidifying customer trust accelerates dramatically in dramatic times when you show up to help people in an hour of need.
Combine the powers of AI and EQ to deliver your best-personalized content Maintaining that connection and trust with your customers must continue as we build the post-coronavirus world. Monitoring the pulse of your customers and gathering data are essential to being prepared and mobilized to meet your customers’ needs.
A vital part of this process is making sure that human beings interpret the data, bringing the context awareness that AI can’t. It’s tempting to let AI handle all of the automated activities such as email and social media marketing. But you still need humans with emotional intelligence to manage your messaging. This is your quality and empathy control. Computation, repetition, data management, and pattern recognition belong to the algorithms.
Personalize your omnichannel content strategy Again, Forbes reinforces the importance of data for truly personalized offerings: “A personalization strategy is a data strategy. Marketing leaders should look beyond traditional marketing segmentation based on name, location, and demographics to more advanced information, such as purchasing behavior, lifestyle, and social media. The key is to track as many interactions across as many channels as possible, without overstepping.”
Be there when your customers need you and are ready to engage. Optimize your omnichannel strategy and deliver the right personalized content at the right time, through the right channel, with the right offer or the right message – and be there, easily available and ready to help. You’ll be leagues ahead of the businesses that have barely begun the journey to making data-driven personalized content a reality for their brand and their customers.
Follow through on your digital promises with real-world results Supply chains are stressed to the limits and beyond. So, if you can’t get something that your customer wants or needs (it happens, it can’t be helped sometimes), do whatever you can to make up for it. Sure, that sounds like business 101, but it still goes a long way toward completing the process of data-driven personalization, making it more than a marketing gimmick to your customers, but a promise and a brand they can trust when they need you most.
If you’re interested in the current state of data, privacy, and customer experience, check out our The New Data Deal survey insights that are based on the responses of more than 5,000 consumers and 2,000 businesses. You can also download your own copy of The Power of Data, our in-depth report packed with consumer research findings and key insights on how you can responsibly use data to build trust, increase value, and boost loyalty.