Engage Your Consumers Through Hyper-Personalization

Since the dawning of the web age in 1991, when the internet became publicly available, the pace of technological innovation has been exhausting, with mobile, voice and artificial intelligence creating marketing opportunities and platforms that were unimaginable three short decades ago.

Welcome to the dawning of the age of hyper-personalization, where the new imperative is to engage with the right shopper wherever they are, with what they want, at the most relevant moment — all while respecting and maintaining their privacy.

Think about your last trip to a grocery store. You likely ignored the vast majority of the products you saw in the store, while being bombarded with thousands of marketing messages. That, in a nutshell, is the problem retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies face the world over.

As the chief marketing officer of Catalina Marketing, which has amassed a buyer behavior database over the course of more than 35 years, we’ve learned a lot about what resonates with today’s shoppers. For example, through our data, we have found that many people who sample new products fail to remain engaged with the company a year later.

This is why your brand needs to be “always on.”

We’re not in the midst of a shopper marketing evolution. Technology is changing the game way too fast for that. If you ask me, we’re in the thick of a revolution, and there’s no stopping it.

Even with commerce shifting so rapidly, there are ways smart and savvy retailers and brands — and their agencies — can leverage technology to their advantage. In fact, according to a survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by Infosys for its 2013 “Rethinking Retail” report, 86% of shoppers said personalization matters when making a purchase.

With that, here are three distinct imperatives for marketers:

1. Buyer Understanding. The ability to convert a shopper into a buyer requires a deep understanding of buyer DNA to ensure you have indeed identified the right shoppers. For example, do they live in a city or suburb, have kids or not, favor low-carb and/or gluten-free food, avoid GMOs, etc.?

2. Precision Personalization. Individualizing relevant messages can reduce marketing waste and drive performance.

3. Omnichannel Delivery. You must be able to pivot to wherever and whenever buyers want information and value on their terms.

It’s all about knowing and connecting with your shopper on an unprecedented level and scale that a generation ago would have been mind-blowing. At the same time, it’s critical for marketers to earn and maintain trust by keeping individual buyers’ identities private, and instead track and act upon behavioral data via anonymized shopper IDs.

By always being on, 24/7, you need to be ready to connect with your targeted shopper online, on mobile and/or in the store with relevant and engaging offers that spur action — and, of course, generate measurable results.

The often-referenced 80/20 principle refers to the idea that 20% of your customers generally account for 80% of your business. This is a potent argument against taking a one-dimensional view of shoppers. That’s the lazy way out.

Each and every shopper is different. They may be more demanding, selective, elusive, impatient, curious or empowered. You need to appeal to those differences.

For example, when our company evaluated the cereal category, we looked at 10 prior campaigns that Catalina ran promoting organic products and discovered that 21% of buyers are into natural ingredients, 23% are non-GMO buyers and 22% tend to buy vegetarian foods. The clear takeaway is that targeting these people with messages that are important to them can pay off in a big way. In fact, after evaluating prior campaigns, Catalina discovered that adding lifestyle segmentation to our traditional purchase-based targeting can drive a 150% increase in incremental volume per shopper.

A word of caution in this age of hyper-personalization: In your drive to deliver, don’t get hung up on crafting and recrafting a perfectly designed message. Of course, an impactful message is key, but remember that long implementation times translate into missed opportunities. You have to be ready to adapt your message or offer on a dime; you may not get another chance.

Hyper-Personalization Do’s:

• Make real-time connections.

• Deliver granularity at scale.

• Always be “on” (you can’t disappear after four weeks).

Hyper-Personalization Busts:

• Don’t take one-dimensional views of shoppers.

• Don’t “overdesign.” Focus on the desired outcome instead.

• Don’t drag any heels. You can’t take too long to implement.

• Don’t focus on only one channel in today’s multichannel world.

In the end, with real-time shopper intelligence in hand, you need to uncover unique buyer truths to create highly personalized solutions across multiple channels which, in turn, drive sales. No question, it’s a lot of work. But these days shoppers are taking it personally when — and if and how — you connect with them. You should too.

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