J.T. Wash

Personalized Experiences are Here to Stay. Period.

March 13, 2017

Think of the greatest marketing experiences you’ve ever had. Those memories have been imprinted in your mind by some indelible brand impressions, whether those came through a unique design or a complex orchestration of events. Witness retailers like Nike, which provide these types of experiences within their own stores and well beyond.

Recently, Nike opened a 55,000 square-foot store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood where visitors can try out new products in real sports settings with enhanced features. The tech-infused store — which includes an entire basketball half-court “trial zone” and fitness lounge-inspired fitting rooms — is designed to deliver personalized services and continuity between Nike’s digital and physical platforms.

The personalized experience between online activity and in-store shopping must be seamless and customizable to each consumer. Retailers are investing in personalization tools that can help associates leverage relevant data to create better consumer experiences. Associates can now utilize these technologies that help them understand consumer preferences and past online purchases, empowering them to make in-aisle product recommendations. Also, this approach allows associates to recognize high-value consumers and alert them about new items or upcoming in-store events. Applications are even being developed to help consumers map out brick-and-mortar stores for exact product location and build shopping lists.

However, an integrated marketing strategy within the organization is key for personalization. Statistics show that 68 percent of firms have already made delivering personalized experiences a priority. Building the architecture can be one of the most challenging aspects of the process, as well as ensuring that everything is done in a privacy-compliant way. Consumer data from all sources must be formatted and enriched to deliver personal experiences along the consumer journey.

Data services providers help retailers determine the quality of their consumer data and augment it with data elements necessary to deliver relevant, contextual messages. Content is also very important when driving consumers from one point to the next. Content management — aggregating content from all channels — enables personalization by modifying sentence structure and images within the message to fit a consumer’s persona. These modifications can include different product offerings based on purchase history or demographic data.

Data analytics serves as the backbone for understanding consumer preferences— including how they want brands to use data— and providing a personalized experience based on nuanced behaviors. The ability to measure with analytics is crucial for understanding what works and improving campaigns to match ever-changing consumer buying habits. Some retailers are beginning to utilize predictive analytics by leveraging the digital footprints buyers leave as they conduct research. Associates can use this information to better engage consumers and personalize their in-store customer service experience. The more that is known about buyers the better the message and communication can be tailored to address pain points and alleviate them. New products can be created and existing products can be modified to better meet the buyer’s needs through leveraging pain points defined by predictive analytics. 

Retailers strive to reach consumers on their preferred device; however, consumers usually use many connected devices. Organizations are now beginning to invest in an integrated technology architecture that combines different best-of-breed technologies in an open garden environment. This provides greater flexibility and fewer resource constraints by not having to create custom-built APIs between systems. This combination of tools allows marketers to choose how they would like to communicate with consumers, increasing their ability to tailor messages to consumer personas. Moreover, better consumer experiences are generated because engagement is consistent across every channel and retailers can better understand their audiences by connecting their marketing stack at the data layer. Anonymous cookies can be matched to publicly identifiable information across the digital ecosystem, and marketers can address consumers at the individual level. People-based marketing is the ethos of personalization.

Personalization has been the buzz in the retail industry for the past couple of years. Organizations are beginning to invest more into these technologies to maintain uniformity in personalization from the online digital experience to the physical store experience. Retailers understand that recognizing consumers’ experiences and enhancing them with personalization across all platforms can be a major investment, but it is the key to future growth. This mass customization in a world of largely undifferentiated goods and services creates the greatest opportunity for increased revenue because it transcends the notion of commoditization and delivers consumers true value. One thing is certain: retailers willing to take that leap of faith and invest in personalization will bound ahead of their competitors.

J.T. Wash

J.T. Wash

J.T. Wash is a Sales Development Representative for Acxiom's Marketing Services division. At Acxiom, J.T. is responsible for bringing value to brand marketers by applying Acxiom’s expertise through its products and services, complementing clients’ ongoing marketing initiatives. This requires a perpetual study of current and future trends within the marketplace, as well as, an in-depth knowledge of how clients can further utilize their consumer data in a privacy, compliant manner. Outside of work, J.T. enjoys traveling internationally, reading with a nice cup of coffee, and competing in adventure races. J.T. earned a Masters in Business Administration from Belmont University and currently lives in Nashville.

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