Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey

Earlier this month, Hootsuite hosted two sold-out events in collaboration with Popimedia in South Africa. Entitled “Digital Transformation: Personalisation in the Age of Digital,” the one-day seminars were held in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and included speakers from Media24, Arc Worldwide, Eighty20, Upstream Advertising, Webfluential, NetFlorist, Popimedia, Arc, and Hootsuite.

The seminars brought together over 200 experienced marketers and business professionals to learn why digital transformation has made personalisation the key to unlocking long-term customer loyalty, increasing sales, and building brand awareness.

Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

Personalisation and brand trust

Personalisation and brand trust were identified as key elements of any marketing strategy and business growth. Personalisation drives and accelerates brand trust and should be seen along the same lines as the age-old business tenet “know your customer.”

Think of a grocer from 100 years ago knowing each of his customers personally. It was about building relationships, learning the behavior of his individual customers, adapting to their needs, remembering the key events in their lives, and adding value to their experience with his brand.

This has come full circle. Consumers have the world’s information at their fingertips on their smartphones; they learn, compare, interact, and give an opinion on anything whenever they want, wherever they want.

Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

“We’re not looking up at billboard ads anymore; we’re now looking down at our mobile phones.  We’re looking down to share our experiences. We’re looking to see what other people did in the same area. We’re looking for a TripAdvisor review to understand what restaurant we should go to.”

Kirsty Sharman, Head of Global Operations, Webfluential

Conversely, brands now have a plethora of tools available to help build 360-degree profiles of customers and engage with them in real-time. As a result, digital is forcing brands to find the best ways, and places, to personalise their content.

Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

“At the end of the day, the customer remains the central person that you want to really target here. So each one of these interactions you have with them, you can learn a little bit more about them. And this means you can personalise that interaction, that event, a little bit more.”

Nic Robertson, Head of Strategy, Media24 Ecommerce

Mobile first

Smartphones are driving the digital world. The growth is phenomenal and means brands must adopt a mobile first mentality. For example, there are 14 million smartphones connected in South Africa right now, and 50 percent of mobile phone users are planning to upgrade to smartphones in the next two years.

This means more opportunities for brands to connect with consumers. According to the Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council, 84 percent of shoppers globally use their smartphones to help them shop while in store.

Social content plays an important role in helping influence purchasing behavior—video in particular has a critical role to play. On Facebook, there are more 8 billion video views every day, while Snapchat sees 10 billion daily views, and YouTube has 400 hours worth of video uploaded every minute. So when people are consuming content, they will most likely be consuming video content.

Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

“Video is immersive, and it’s engaging, and it’s visual. And it’s a medium that’s worked to convey a meaningful message to consumers for 50 or 60 years through TV advertising. When people are online, they’re consuming video.”

Gill Sperling, Co-Founder and CTO, Popimedia

Tapping into Consumers

The evolution of technology, driven by consumer demand, means that intelligent marketing services will help brands reach and retain customers by learning from their behavior.

Tracking, monitoring, and analyzing all of this data means brands are able to tap into each customer’s environment and provide a better experience for them along the buying journey—from customer service to personalised offers and targeted social ads.

Tracking the customer journey doesn’t end with social media—brands need a holistic approach to tracking their journey onto their website and learn their behavior once there. There are three key data sets to analyze in order to make informed decisions: conversion rates, bounce rates, and A/B testing.

These enable brands to better understand, and react to, how their target audience interact with them, what their behavior is once on their site, whether prices are too high or too low, what the triggers are to make a purchase or to leave the site, and so on.

Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

“Fundamental to website performance is personalisation. Too many websites are overwhelming—A/B testing analytics enable you to tailor even your home page to your audience’s preferences by looking at bounce rates and conversion rates to see which home page works most effectively.”

Ryan Bacher, Founder and CEO, NetFlorist

Naturally, consumers all have different needs, potential touch points and behaviors when making a purchase decision. There are multiple opportunities to interact with them and, critically, brands must understand their audience through data analysis and interpretation. What are their motivations and emotional drivers for making a purchase?

Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

“Once we understand the different mindsets of the consumers, we can start to communicate with them in different ways.”

Ryan Silberman, CEO, Arc Worldwide

In doing so, brands are able to reach and influence the purchasing decision by providing emotional connections through messaging and social content relevant to the consumer, and by adding value and building trust along the social journey.

Consequently, influencer marketing has become an integral component within digital strategies to help brands reach, and build trust with, the right audiences. The source of the message, therefore, is becoming more important than the message itself for building long-term relationships.

The social journey

Social media has emerged as a key driver of digital transformation. We live in a culture of being ‘always on,’ and one of sharing. This trend is changing the way we live and communicate with one another, and how businesses are able to interact with their target audiences.

Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

“We are now in an era of unimagined disruption—we’ve never seen this kind of thing before.  Videos can be viewed millions of times, everything is real-time, the consumer expectation is for immediacy, and mobile penetration will reach 50 percent by 2020 in South Africa.”

Ryan Holey, Partner Manager EMEA, Hootsuite

Holey went on to explain how this huge cultural shift has impacted businesses. He explained that in 2011 we reached a tipping point. Millennials were coming to work having lived with the internet all of their lives. And by 2026 this will change to how they will have lived with Facebook all of their lives. It’s a completely different culture that brands must adapt to and embrace.

Email is being superseded by Snapchat, Whatsapp, Skype, and other messaging apps. In 2018, it is estimated that there will be around 2.55 billion social network users around the globe, up from 1.87 billion in 2014.

Brands are becoming social businesses. This means educating and trusting employees to empower them on social media. Employee advocacy is a powerful part of this. And human resources benefits by being able to use social to attracting candidates. ‘Social’ is no longer a department—it belongs to everyone in an organization.

Improve customer engagement through personalisation

Personalisation is a highly effective way of building long-term relationships by improving customer engagement. Brands typically approach communications in two distinct ways: product-centric or customer-centric.

The main difference between the two lies in value. The former means selling as much as possible without being unduly concerned about who is buying. The customer-centric approach hinges around customer lifetime value, which means that long-term relationships and trust—which spark repeat purchases, recommendations, positive reviews, and advocacy—are key.

Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

“Millennials are hyper-sensitive to communication. When they receive communications that they feel are irrelevant, they will take measures to stop future communications, such as unsubscribing. Understanding what they want, how and when, and then delivering it to them, is vital.”

Marc Yunnie, Consultant, Eighty20

At a macro-level, social media data analysis means going beyond volume-based metrics and interpreting the data to understand why trends are developing. And then it’s about optimizing their communications strategies to drive engagement, build trust, and of course, make sales.

At a micro-level, brands can use this data to optimize how they target different individuals based on their unique purchasing behavior. From learning what the spend thresholds of specific individuals are, and what their purchasing behavior is based on specific offers, brands can more effectively target an individual to increase the amount that they spend.

This is a turning point for personalisation as it is a major shift away from communicating to large groups of people, to intentionally targeting individuals through personalised offers and communications based on hard data.

Therefore, brands must learn from (and adopt) this behavior too. Understanding how we interact with one another informs businesses on how they should, in turn, interact with us.
The audience played their social part too, helping the first seminar’s hashtag #AdTechCT to trend on Twitter in Cape Town during the day.

Industry Experts Discuss Why Brands Must Personalise the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

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See the how attendees discussed the seminars using the #AdTechCT hashtag on Twittter via the Storify roundups below.