Personalization marketing saw its time in the spotlight in 2017. And rightfully so. Nearly 86 percent of consumers indicate personalized offers play a significant role in their purchase decisions – while 90 percent of marketers believe that individualized marketing is the trend of the future. Several big brands took huge leaps this year in better using data intelligence not merely to sell products, but to improve their customer experiences – increasing engagement, encouraging repeat purchase, and driving business value. Increasingly, success in personalization means truly understanding your customers as individuals and and aligning your product and product experience with better data about what they want and need out of an interaction with your brand.
Below is a collection of our favorite recent personalization programs. At the core of each of these efforts is solving a specific problem for a customer, or focusing in on vastly improving an experience through technology. With each of these personalization efforts, technology supplements experience, rather than drives it.
Among our favorites:
Ostensibly an online grammar and writing tool (with extensions across multiple platforms) Grammarly has long had an impressive content marketing operation in place that succeeds in making grammar fun. The personalization magic for Grammarly happens with repeated use of the tool. The more you write in Grammarly, or allow Grammarly to review your writing via its extensions, the more the system learns your personal writing habits, which culminate in weekly Grammarly Insights (Insights 2.0 just launched in September) emailed to you. Insights include Mastery, which details mistakes made and thus, accuracy; Strength of Vocabulary compared with other Grammarly users; Top grammar mistakes, which alerts you to your most frequent errors, and; Spelling Adversaries, or those words you most corrected. Version 2.0 monitors trends over longer periods of time, offers badges for reaching certain milestones, and provides more detailed reports on productivity and vocabulary metrics. All this personalized data improves engagement, encourages repeat use, and improves a user’s writing in the process.
Fashion brand JustFab collects data directly from the customer via quizzes on style, sizes and even celebrities they love. This data forms a deeply personalized – and fun – user profile for its My Boutique section. Establishing this profile not only improves the initial shopping experiences, but informs all subsequent visits to the site. The brand’s personalization efforts also expand out into a sophisticated email operation — continually adjusting email content based on customer preferences, shopping behavior, and even optimal times based on customer opens. These efforts helped JustFab boost sales from email by a whopping 39 percent, and reduce customer churn by 46 percent.
Sephora Virtual Artist
Sephora truly gets personalization, which is likely why they were the top rated brand in Sailthru’s first-annual Personalization Index. They intimately understand user pain points and collect data to constantly improve the shopping and purchasing process for users. Case in point, their Virtual Artist product. Shopping for makeup isn’t necessarily fun or convenient for everyone. Not to mention, a long session can seriously irritate your skin. Sephora’s AI augmented Virtual Artist allows customers to try on products – like lipstick and eyeshadow – by mapping facial features and then using augmented reality to apply products to the users face. The application can then suggest different shades depending on the user’s skin tone.
Princess Cruises Ocean Medallion
This November, Princess Cruises launched its Ocean Medallion program designed to vastly personalize cruise experiences for its guests. The medallion is a wearable device that holds the customer’s unique digital identity. It communicates with thousands of sensors onboard and in port and lets crew and service staff see information to help better serve guests. It also contains payment information, acts as a key to guest staterooms and can be used to manage off-ship excursions. The medallion’s Here and Now feature allows you to order drinks, food and even products and have them delivered to your exact location on the ship. In essence, Princess Cruises is enabling guests – who are all travelling on the same ship – to build and manage a completely customized cruise experience. The savviest move on behalf of Princess Cruises might be the medallion’s optional use. If it turns out you’re just not comfortable with the device’s total access, you can turn on a safety mode that tones it down to simple access settings.
Warby Parker Mobile App Facial Mapping
We’d be remiss not to mention the brand leading the way for the integration of on and offline experiences. Warby Parker has long nailed the online shopping model for glasses, turning what was long a dreaded process into something pleasurable and cool.
Ever on the cutting edge, the brand is now making it even easier to choose the best frames for you, cutting down on the path to purchase by ensuring the glasses you order, or go to the store to try on, are a near perfect fit. They’ve accomplished this in their mobile app by using iPhone X’s face mapping technology to help you choose the glasses that not only look best on your face, but its shape perfectly, too. If you have a new iPhone X, the Warby Parker app offers a feature that precisely measures your face and recommends the best glasses for your face shape. It doesn’t yet let you try them on virtually, but an update to include this feature may be coming soon. While we all know Warby Parker isn’t custom designing and producing glasses just for us, this new feature certainly makes it feel like they do. Ultimately, those brands building deeply personal customer experiences, that leverage technology, and bridge the offline and online gap, are the ones best primed to win and retain customers into the future.
Nordstrom’s – “This Caught Your Eye” Emails
How many times have you been this close to buying something, only to second guess your decision, or put off the purchase to another time? While this is common in-store, it’s trackable online, where myriad more distractions may pull you away from checking out. Nordstrom gets this and triggers a personalized and friendly email when you abandon your cart, reminding users about the product that “caught your eye”. This second-person approach is more personal and tonal. It acts to reduce a pressure purchase, and refrains from using the cold-but-common language “items left in your cart” language we’re all too familiar with.
In 2018, we’ll likely see more brands seek to bridge the online-offline gap by creating enhanced digital products that supplement a user’s journey. Rapidly improving technology is enabling brands to take huge leaps with personalization, but the magic only happens when technology is combined with smart data analysis and a laser-focus on driving user value. Is your brand ready to take advantage of this massive shift to outpace your competitors and lead your industry category? According to a research study completed by Boston Consulting Group, only about 15 percent of companies can be considered personalization leaders – leaving massive room for improvement. If you’d like to chat about the potential to drive incredible personalization campaigns in 2018, get in touch.
We’ve helped dozens of companies manage the digital transformation required to become personalization leaders, and we’d love to spend time with you talking about your goals, as well as the challenges you foresee in achieving them.