It isn’t enough to master your marketing communications through one channel if your current or prospective customers engage with you in many different channels. And for most companies, it is pretty safe to assume that they are. The typical digital consumer now owns 3.64 connected devices. Forrester predicts that by 2021, 40% of in-store sales will be influenced by the internet. And even in financial services, 47% of bank customers engaged in at least one cross-channel interaction in the past 90 days.
At Evergage, when we talk about cross-channel marketing, we don’t mean mass communication across channels. We mean personalized communication. Why? Consumers expect personalized experiences. Forrester found that 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience. And Infosys uncovered that 74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized.
And when we talk about cross-channel personalization, we mean the ability to provide a consistent and relevant experience across website, web app, mobile app, search, email and human channels. In this blog post, let’s briefly explore each of these areas.
Many digital marketers view their website as their most important channel. Whether your goal is to drive online sales, generate leads or maximize page views, there is typically some action you want a visitor to take while on your site. As a result, many of your online marketing activities are focused on driving traffic there. Given its importance, it’s critical to show each person exactly what they are looking for on your site to drive those conversions or page views. Personalization – whether using rule-based targeting to segments or machine-learning algorithms at the one-to-one level – allows you to do that.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows personalizes its main homepage experience to several of its main customer segments, such as visitors from target cities, families and season pass holders. By showing each group of visitors something relevant to them, these experiences have improved conversions and revenue per user.
This example just scratches the surface of website personalization. For some other easy to deploy ideas, check out this blog post.
2. Web App
For subscription-based businesses like SaaS, financial services, publishers and many retailers, the logged-in environment (also called web applications) is often the primary interface for engaging with customers. There is a huge opportunity to personalize the logged-in environment to identify when users need help and direct them to most relevant resources, drive users to leverage features that can help them get the most value out of the product, identify churn risks and upsell opportunities, and more.
Endurance International Group (EIG) leverages in-app personalization to communicate and engage with its customers “in the moment” at different stages of their lifecycles. For instance, while providing web hosting services to customers, EIG saw an upsell opportunity to offer a premium website creation tool to specific audiences. Leveraging in-app personalization to target users with an upsell CTA at the right time, the company saw conversion rates 4-5 times better than their traditional promotional email campaigns.
3. Mobile App
Mobile apps have become a vital means of engaging and interacting with increasingly mobile audiences. In fact, more than a third of consumers say they expect their mobile apps and websites to be more personalized over the next three years. Yet our recent study with Researchscape International found that mobile apps are the least personalized channel — only 18% of marketers using personalization are using it for their mobile apps.
Personalization on mobile devices is much like website and web app personalization — helping users find the most relevant content. You can similarly target different segments and individuals with rules and machine-learning algorithms.
For example, a travel app can share a specific deal only with users who have booked a flight within the past month. Or an e-commerce app can deliver personalized recommendations that boost brand and price affinities to help shoppers find products they will be interested in, quickly and easily. An effective personalization solution can even allow you to build, test and implement various messaging campaigns in your app, without involving developers or waiting for an app store release. Learn more about how that works in this blog post.
Email undoubtedly remains a critical communication channel – one used by nearly all businesses today. Many marketers already leverage personalization in their emails to some degree. In fact, we found in a recent study with Researchscape International that email is the most personalized channel. Typically, marketers leverage their email solution’s broad segmentation capabilities to personalize email campaigns. Yet, half of the respondents to a Retail Touchpoints survey say that they have received emails from retailers with irrelevant information.
In order to ensure the content of your emails is relevant to an individual, you need to consider all you know about that person across channels, particularly in terms of individual behavior, history and preferences. But what is relevant to a person at one moment may be out of date to that same person later. The key is to be relevant at open time, rather than at send time.
For example, let’s say that an e-retailer sends an email containing three product recommendations to a regular customer. Between when the email is sent and when he opens the email, he purchased Product 1 via the mobile app, Product 2 went out of stock, and Product 3 dropped in price. If the retailer personalizes the email at open time, when he opens the email, Products 1 and 2 would be substituted with different (but still relevant) product recommendations, and Product 3’s price would be reflected accurately.
The search function on any website is incredibly important, as it is a key channel for helping customers find and discover products and content. The visitors that use the search function state exactly what they are looking for, and in many cases are more ready to convert than other visitors that don’t use search. Yet search is a traditionally underused channel, and search results are notoriously ineffective across industries.
To make the most use of your on-site search, you should show visitors the most relevant products or content with as little effort (and as few clicks) as possible. That means that the search results you show should be selected and sorted in a way that is unique for each person, based on the visitor’s intent and affinities.
For example, Zumiez leverages in-depth behavioral data to assess the interests and preferences of each visitor to its site, so that it can help them find the most relevant products in the search bar. In the image below, note that the recommended shoes are in the shopper’s preferred gender (women’s) and brand (Vans) based on her previous behavior on the site.
Essentially, search results that consider each person’s preferences and intent will provide products and content that are maximally relevant to the individual, not to the search term.
The human channel is in some ways the most obvious form of personalization, because it’s very easy to provide a personalized experience to a customer when in a one-on-one conversation with him. But at the same time it can be the least obvious form of personalization, as many marketers do not realize that they can use the same principles and the same valuable information that they collect in all of the previously mentioned channels to pass on to call center, customer success and sales personnel to enable more relevant customer engagement.
For example, a B2B salesperson prospecting into an account can provide a personalized experience too. When preparing for a sales call, she can look into the activity of all visitors associated with the account – including an account’s activity history, preferred solutions, categories and content — to steer the conversation in a relevant direction even before asking any discovery questions.
In today’s multichannel world, cross-channel personalization is increasingly worth the effort to get right. Of course, achieving successful cross-channel personalization requires the right data and the right technology. For more information about the components you need for cross-channel personalization, check out this blog post.
Hopefully this article has illuminated some channels you may not yet have considered within your personalization strategy. To discover how one-to-one personalization is driven by machine learning, delivered across channels and powered by in-depth customer data, download our full-length book, One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning, for free today!