Your customers are different, so why are your communications the same?
Einstein said that the definition of madness is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting a different result.
In customer communications, the definition of madness might be sending the same communication to all your customers and expecting the same result.
Clearly, a message that resonates with a student about to start university may not land so well with a single mum – or a recent retiree. Your customers are likely to have different priorities and different concerns, depending on things like where they live, what they do for a living, their life stage and their mindset.
When we stop and consider the many variables at play, it is obvious that personalising messages is likely to improve the response we get, in terms of opens, shares, clicks, purchases and customer retention.
Let’s look at what this kind of personalisation looks like, why it’s important, and how it can be achieved.
Segmenting your audience
The starting point for any kind of personalisation project is to segment your audience. There are many ways to divide your customers, and you may also find that you want to sub-divide your audience (i.e. you may need to split groups by both age and location, or occupation and spending history).
The key is to balance your goal of personalising messages with the reality of sending different messages to different groups. While you may like to have 70 different groups, it may be impractical to manage so many segments.
To get started, you may prefer to choose a small number of groups, dividing your entire audience into a few large segments, perhaps along lines of age or past purchases. This will enable you to test the effectiveness or your personalisation and decide whether further division is likely to yield an advantage.
Automate the process
It’s easy to see how dividing your audience into different groups can rapidly create work. If you divide one customer group into ten segments, you’ve potentially created nine new communications for your teams to create, test, check, send and monitor.
Clearly, automation is the key to making this kind of customer personalisation sustainable. It’s important to use a customer communications management (CCM) platform that makes this kind of segmentation and personalisation easy to manage.
Define your customer groups
Once you’ve segmented your audience, you need to define what you believe – and what you know – about each group. For example, you may have a group of customers who are 21-30 years old, but how do you use that to customise their messages? What do you know about those customers? What do you know they will appreciate?
Customer personas may help bridge the gap between your segmentation exercise and the development of communications. These usually need to be quite simple portraits (both in terms of a picture and a description of their life, likes and goals) that can be shared with all interested parties, ensuring that everyone has the same understanding of each customer segment.
A different message to every customer
Beyond segmentation, there is true personalisation – when every single customer receives letters, bills, statements and policy documents that are populated with their own data, adhere to their own preferences and match (to some extent) their own personality.
To achieve this level of customisation, your CCM solution must offer a rules-based system for defining how communications are composed. Using rules, a CCM system can be configured to build a message based on each customer’s data, including their past purchases, renewal dates, date of birth, location, occupation and preferences. By building these rules into the CCM, every message is automatically composed on an individual level. So emails, texts and letters can include specific details about each customer – giving them an incredibly personalised experience.
Your customer communications teams will still need to compose different text for different audiences, but they may only need to create a handful of original paragraphs, which can then be combined with your library of approved wording to build compliant, on-brand communications.
Make customers feel valued and understood
Having considered two approaches to personalisation (audience segmentation and true personalisation) it’s clear that one major advantage of these endeavours is to make each customer feel appreciated and recognised. Any organisation that is struggling to retain more customers should consider greater personalisation as a means of building relationships and showing customers that they are heard and valued.
Upsell and cross-sell
Personalisation isn’t just about improving the customer experience. It also enables a smarter approach to cross- and up-selling. Rather than trying to sell pensions to teenagers, you can target special offers to those people who are likely to respond. And this, in turn, doesn’t just improve your conversion rates, it also reduces the number of customers who feely completely misunderstood.
Ready to improve your customer communications?
At DocCentrics, we help organisations transform the way they send mass customer communications. Our CCM platform makes it easy and efficient to create and send messages by text, email, post and more.
If you would like to know more about how we can help, give us a call.