Imagine someone striking up a conversation with you just based on your street address. Can that start a conversation? Sure. Can it sustain a conversation? Not really. A simplistic start to personalization can only get you so far. Flat data gathered from purchases or web browsing, like geographic location and age, deliver limited context about your customers. But we know the rich data is only an ask away – just like a better conversation topic.
When the 2016 Econsultancy Conversion Rate Optimization Report came out, there was one thing we noticed in it – the uptick in personalization efforts by brands. In the two years since the survey first began asking about personalization, the number of companies using personalization technologies slightly decreased in 2015, but resumed growth in 2016. Although only a quarter of those surveyed currently use website personalization to improve conversion rates, more than half (55 percent) plan to implement it.
So while the race to personalize is on, there's still a speed bump in the road that Econsultancy identified: companies' challenges in implementing the technology. Though there are many approaches to reaching customers and anticipating their wants and needs, the truth is that any customer-facing strategy that attempts to convert without a conversation is falling short in the long-term.
What we know is that when you're aiming to deliver personalization, you need more than single data points and fragmented customer journeys to engage consumers. By initiating a conversation with customers, you can then invite them to share the ways in which they'd like to communicate with you. One opt-in can launch a conversation if you listen, remember and respond.
To get started, kick-start customer engagement with a preference center – simply ask your customers about product interests, communication channel preference and their preferred frequency of communication. This single entry point allows customers to indicate the ways in which they expect or would like communications from your company. By allowing customers to share those preferences, you offer an opportunity for your customers to guide the conversation.
The ability to collect initial preferences paves an inviting and compliant path for customer conversations. Best of all, this recreates the ways in which we naturally communicate: listening to a friend, remembering what they say, and responding based on your knowledge.
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hit bookstores in the summer of 2013. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.
Labels: communication channel preference, customer conversations, customer engagement, customer journeys, Econsultacy Conversion Rate Optimization Report, flat data, personalization, preference center, rich data