Recently, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company published its Next in Personalization 2021 Report, revealing that companies that excel at achieving customer intimacy are growing revenue faster than their competitors – and the closer organizations get to consumers, the greater the gains. Orla van ‘t Hof, digital marketing analyst at Macaw and Dawn Ligthart, digital designer at Macaw, discussed a number of research results, shared their visions, experiences from the market, and gave practical tips during the webinar ‘Create your optimal customer journey using personas 2.0‘ on our Frankwatching platform.
Let’s go back to the beginning for a moment. Personalization has been around for decades, in the early 2000s marketers were creating personalized email campaigns to engage their customers. So why do we want to personalize products or services so badly? Van ‘t Hof says, that ‘companies simply want to increase the likelihood that someone will feel drawn to their value proposition, and stand out from the competition.’
And that appeal and retention is becoming increasingly difficult as customers continue to raise the bar. The Next in Personalization 2021 Report, for example, found that 71 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions and three-quarters become frustrated when they don’t. But why is personalization difficult for businesses?
Van ‘t Hof and Ligthart addressed 5 challenges during the webinar:
1: The large number of competitors, and the difficulty of being distinctive.
2: An incomplete understanding of the customer and having unconscious biases.
3: Insufficient knowledge of customer needs and wants.
4: Customer interaction data is too complex to convert into an action.
5: Lack of a system to help with data.
To address these challenges, Macaw developed a framework that helps companies find direction and continuously improve. The process starts with the persona, the person for whom you are designing an experience. Here, it’s important to get inside the customer’s head – no matter how difficult and time-consuming – to provide the right experience by connecting with the right person, at the right time and through the right message. After all, a customer prefers experience to the brand offering the experience. But what does that so-called persona look like?
The creation of quality personas depends on a number of things. While we are often guided by characteristics such as age, gender, residence, income and education these characteristics do not necessarily ensure an appropriate and personal experience for your persona.
For example, take a look at the following characteristics and identify the two public figures they relate to:
- Born in 1948
- Grew up in the United Kingdom
- Married twice
- Lives in a castle
- Rich and famous
Ferrari versus Aston Martin
The above characteristics apply to both Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne, but a message that appeals to the Prince of Darkness may have a very different effect on the Prince of Wales. Suppose you are a car brand and are guided by the above information. Osbourne might then prefer a black Ferrari with a great sound system, tinted windows and alloy wheels, while Prince Charles might opt for a less flashy but more robust and secure option that comes from a British manufacturer, such as an Aston Martin.
Data therefore needs to be relevant and becomes redundant if it does not help you understand your target audience. Customers respond better to content that is tailored to their unique characteristics and what they find important. In addition, personas are only really worth something if you, as a company, stand for a higher goal than just making a profit. A goal that connects to the social needs of a consumer.
- Create and segment your personas where necessary.
- Map the similarities between business and user needs via, for example, a value proposition canvas and, in addition, pay attention to the moral consequences of choices made by using the impact canvas.
- Find value by conducting user research, for example through interviews, empathy mapping or an impact canvas.
- Identify value by analyzing the research, recognizing biases and identifying trends.
- Focus on challenges, motivations, expectations and social impact by collecting data.
- Adjust your personas as needed. Personas are only valuable if you remain curious and dare to make adjustments where necessary.
- Make sense of a customer’s needs and define how you can fulfill them. Creating a customer journey map, a visual representation of the phases a potential customer goes through including the contact points, can help answer this.
- Make use of a customer data platform. The complexity of customer interaction data is a major challenge for many organizations. Data is fragmented so that there is no complete picture of the customer. A customer data platform can help you with this.
- Create a complete picture of your customer because that is what it is all about. Only when you have a complete picture can you be relevant and realize an optimal customer experience.
- Monitor your process to maintain accuracy.
- Respond to the whims of the customer.
Ligthart stresses the importance of being a listening organization that picks up data, understands it and then takes action. That way, you can adapt to your user and his or her needs and can provide a better, more appropriate and personalized experience.