Digital experience personalization trends
10 years ago I wrote an article for CRM Magazine on the importance of teaching your digital experience (back then website) to mirror the intuition of your most effective sales and marketing team members. A lot has changed in the decade since. Today, thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence, voice assistants and big data, the possibilities and the expectations for digital experience personalization are ever-increasing.
So, where do you start? The decision to personalize information ties closely to your brand promise as well as customer sentiments and expectations.
Are your customers comfortable trading their information for a better experience? How far should you go, since the possibilities are almost endless? Will your customers embrace the use of voice assistant data to reduce their shopping time by 10 percent? Will the key decision-maker on the biggest deal of the year be creeped out if the website is consistently mirroring the products and services the company has been discussing with their account rep?
Here are some simple steps to ensure your digital experience personalization strategy mirrors the comfort level and cultural expectations of your customer base:
- Review or create your customer segmentation to understand which populations should be considered cohorts.
- Map the current customer experience with your customers, as well as your sales, marketing and service teams.
- Brainstorm a future state experience with the above groups and key stakeholders from your IT and analytics groups.
- Conduct qualitative research with your cohorts to better understand their attitudes, expectations and behaviors.
With the research input, you are now prepared to design the appropriate personalized customer experiences by cohort.
As the organization launches into designing the new experience, it can’t be done in a silo. Identify your most intuitive sellers and data-driven marketers. Use them to pressure test the personalization strategy and identify the key metrics that will provide a baseline and key measurements of success.
Designing for the current modern best practices of personalization is akin to conducting a symphony. The approach must be carefully composed and rehearsed. But unlike a symphony, you will be able to continuously improve the experience in real-time based on data and insights.
Here’s a quick summary of the latest trends that have transformed digital experience personalization since my last blog post on the topic a decade ago.
Blurring the line between human and machine
The phrase “artificial intelligence” used to suggest images of cold, robotic interactions. Over the past decade, adoption of this technology has increased, and AI now offers marketers the chance to create personalized, “human” connections with their target audiences.
One study found that 60 percent of consumers think AI can reduce the time it takes to get answers and assistance, while still offering a highly personalized experience. The study also found that more than one-fourth of respondents weren’t sure whether their last customer service interaction was with a bot or a human. From chatbots in Facebook Messenger to live customer service interactions on a business’s website, companies can now use AI at many customer touchpoints to offer immediate responses, without sacrificing quality or authenticity.
API strategy and execution unlock competitive advantages
One way for companies to quickly and easily achieve digital experience personalization is through API enablement. APIs are the connective tissue that enable personalization solutions—such as cloud technologies and modern tech stacks—to work together.
Investing in an API strategy pays off. Take Nutrien, the world’s largest provider of crop services and solutions. With over 500,000 grower accounts across the globe, Nutrien needed to develop a digital strategy that served many different stakeholders. With help from PK, Nutrien established a digital strategy that focused on the needs of these individual stakeholders, implemented the Apigee API Management platform and built out several of the initial APIs. This resulted in Nutrien’s ability to personalize their digital experience according to the needs of each customer, including one specifically designed to deliver shipping/tracking statuses for input delivery.
Interaction and inability
Voice search is changing the way marketers think about and implement SEOpersonalization and SEO strategies as part of an overall digital experience. As more devices are integrated into the Internet of Things, voice becomes a critical point of interaction. Voice searches differ from text internet searches in length, as consumers tend to use full sentences when articulating a voice search.
Marketers need to create content that answers these more specific questions and move beyond a hyper-focus on keywords to tap into the power of voice search. The growing preference for voice search highlights that consumers need a streamlined, responsive, personalized experience that serves them where they are.
The “AI Effect” asserts that as AI technology becomes a larger part of consumers’ daily lives, it becomes less conspicuous. This is also true for technology such as cloud computing and voice search; as adoption grows, consumers may not realize how often they interact with this technology each and every day. For marketers, however, this fact is at the forefront. Marketing technology will continue to evolve, enabling consumers to connect with brands in new and compelling ways that go far beyond the point of sale.
To learn more about trends in marketing technology, download our report Marketing technology as a strategic asset.
About the Author
Paul Williams is a partner at PK. He specializes in business strategy, organizational leadership, customer journey and touchpoint optimization, strategic planning, competitive research and concept development. He has also been recognized as a Top 40 Executive under 40 by the Portland Business Journal and as the Entrepreneur of the Year under 30 for a three-state region by the Small Business Administration.