Picturing someone alone on their laptop or phone doesn't exactly scream 'social butterfly'; there is something inherently impersonal about logging in and becoming absorbed into a screen that can cause us to disconnect from the real world – but that doesn't mean we're being antisocial.
In fact, businesses are getting better and better at putting the 'social' into social media. Although not directly talking with customers face-to-face or over the phone, online communications are getting more personal – but there's still a way to go.
A recent article on The Drum notes that while it was predicted that mass personalisation would become the norm in the near future, we are still a long way off. Businesses are getting better at recognising customers as individuals with specific interests and needs, but they are still segmented in a fairly regimental manner.
There is a tier of personalisation it seems – the top (what businesses should aim for) is meaningful, one-to-one engagement that is unique for each customer; the bottom (where many businesses are stuck) is a data-driven, automated grouping of consumers.
Businesses need to move away from data-driven insights into customer behaviour and begin using it to propel themselves up to the very top tier of personalisation. So, how can this be done? How can brands build their digital experiences to deliver a top-level personal touch?
1. Gather audience insights
In order to reach the top, you have to start from the bottom. Data is a fantastic source of information about your customers and should always be used as the basis of any digital strategy. Businesses need to listen and silently gather data on their customers before attempting any form of personalisation; from the moment an individual clicks on a company website a profile should be built from analytics, algorithms and other technical wizardry detailing their needs and interests. This is the foundation of personalisation.
2. Have the right content in place
Businesses should only have a conversation with someone if they have something to say. Have the right content in place to open up a genuine channel of communication – and by 'right' content we mean content that is built from the insights gathered on the audience itself. Content should be created in response to the interests of individual customers, as determined by thorough data-gathering.
3. Abide by a code of honour
Finally, in order to reach the top tier of personalisation businesses need to abide by a code of honour. Customers want to feel that the relationship is genuine and not built on ulterior motives – nothing will destroy a positive business-consumer relationship quicker than spamming them with deals or pushing them to make a purchase. Only ever contact them with information they will find genuinely useful or informative. This will build trust, which many of us know is the backbone of any real relationship.