Multi-Channel Personalization: What it is & Best Practices for Retailers

The future is here. Consumers are shopping online at an increasing rate and will continue to do so in favor of shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. And when these consumers engage with brands online, they expect to be able to move seamlessly between channels.

However, creating a strategy that matches what shoppers demand isn’t easy. 82% of the US population is active on an average of 8.6 social media accounts. At the same time, 3.9 billion global consumers – over half of the world’s population – check their email inbox every day. With an ever-growing number of channels available to consumers, learning how to connect a multitude of disparate touchpoints has become an urgent priority for retailers.

Brands need to find new ways to reach shoppers over an ever-growing number of online and offline channels while facilitating discovery and driving purchases in a way that leads to continued revenue growth. Multi-channel personalization will help you do just that.

What is Multi-Channel Personalization?

To understand what multi-channel personalization is, let’s first define multi-channel marketing

Today, most people engage on multiple devices – and their engagement patterns can differ significantly depending on which channel they are actively using. A multi-channel marketing strategy is designed to capitalize on this pattern of behavior by reaching consumers where they’re most likely to engage with relevant messaging that is well-suited to the strengths of that channel.

Multi-channel personalization is simply a multi-channel marketing approach layered with retail personalization. By implementing personalization into your multi-channel strategy, you’ll be able to directly address the customer and all their unique needs. This delivers added value to shoppers by giving them consistent experiences across their preferred channels, and it helps you show them the most relevant product recommendations possible. 

The outcome of a multi-channel personalization strategy is beneficial for both retailers and consumers. Consumers will find it easier to purchase products that fulfill their needs, which in turn delivers a multitude of benefits to retailers, like increased loyalty, engagement and sales.

The Benefits of Multi-Channel Personalization

Having a persistent presence on the platforms your target audience uses delivers three key benefits: Enhanced loyalty, improved engagement and increased revenue. Let’s take a closer look at how multi-channel personalization accomplishes this.

Enhanced loyalty

First-time buyers present an opportunity for retail brands. Either they become one-time buyers and shift to a competitor or they become loyal, repeat buyers. Retailers need to think about fostering loyalty from the moment customers first engage and continue to build rapport as that relationship continues to grow.

By delivering highly relevant outreach that provides a clear path to purchase, multi-channel personalization is an excellent way to encourage customers to make repeated purchases. This increases your chance of turning a one-time buyer into a two-time buyer, at which point they are 95% more likely to purchase from your brand yet again.

Improved engagement

When retailers craft highly relevant messaging to communicate their brand value and provide an experience with 1:1 personalization, they’ll be able to stand out in an increasingly broad and competitive marketplace. 

Stretching this type of marketing strategy across multiple channels will help you reach customers where they are when they’re primed to engage, letting you interact with valuable customers before your competition does. 

Increased revenue

When brands can surface products customers will love on the channels on which they prefer to engage, customers will find it much easier to discover the products they need, leading to a boost in sales. In fact, we’ve found best-in-class personalization can spur a 60% lift in digital revenue

These three benefits are often top of mind for retail leadership, making the adoption of a multi-channel personalization strategy tempting. However, before you get started, make sure your campaigns will go off without a hitch by addressing common weak points in multi-channel campaigns.

Common Challenges When Personalizing Multi-Channel Campaigns

It’s important to overcome a few pressing challenges to maximize the impact of your multi-channel personalization strategy. Make sure you address the following concerns before launching any campaigns.

Unifying data

According to a recent report, 59% of retailers claim they can’t easily apply the same data from one marketing channel to another and nearly half of retailers struggle to visualize data in a centralized way. Since multi-channel personalization requires a complete view of consumer activity across a multitude of channels, disparate data poses a significant challenge. 

To combat this, retailers need to capture and unify a 360-degree view of shoppers and product signals in real-time. Doing so shouldn’t require extensive involvement from IT or demand your marketing team spends hours creating product feeds or implementing time-consuming integrations. 

This is quite difficult without specialized technology. Think of it this way: Every interaction a customer has with your brand creates data. Depending on the size of your brand, this could mean thousands or even millions of data points each day! Ensuring all of your data is captured and stored in an intuitive, centralized way will help you keep tabs on it, allowing you to minimize wasted marketing spend from the outset.

Integrations

One solution won’t provide the best answers for all of your retail needs. Instead, search for best-in-class software that perfectly fulfills your needs as a retailer and ensures the solutions can easily integrate with the rest of your eCommerce technology stack to extend your personalization capabilities. An oversight in this realm can have an array of negative consequences, such as creating manual work for your team or limiting the potential of your campaigns through shallow offerings.

Consistency

Consistency is important in all facets of marketing. In fact, research shows that brands with consistent messaging will enjoy a 33% increase in revenue compared to those with inconsistent messaging. Consistency is especially paramount for personalized multi-channel campaigns, which rely on demonstrating a coherent understanding of a consumer’s needs and preferences.

Marketers can sometimes make the mistake of falling into a channel-focused approach when engaging in multi-channel marketing. However, this does little to advance consistency from the consumer’s perspective. Instead, use reliable data sets that you can apply across channels to create campaigns that focus on how to best message each customer, first and foremost. This will help you maintain greater consistency in your strategy.

Keep these challenges top of mind before you start investing time and money into crafting your approach to multi-channel personalization, as they can have a significant impact on the success of your campaigns. Once you’ve addressed these challenges, it’s important to craft a multi-channel personalization strategy with a few best practices in mind.

Best Practices to Personalize Your Multi-Channel Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve accounted for the most common challenges inherent in building personalized multi-channel campaigns, ensure your initial campaign is as strong as possible. Here are seven best practices to help you maximize the impact and relevance of your personalized multi-channel campaigns.

Examine the customer journey

A significant piece of any personalization strategy is knowing as much as possible about your customers. Journey mapping can assist in this by providing a general gut-check to help you understand how key customer segments get to their current lifecycle stage, providing a basic framework for your personalization strategy.

Collecting information about how each individual customer engages across a multitude of channels can be daunting – but AI-driven retail marketing technology can help. When the AI is given a set of product, behavior and customer data, it will help you map the customer journey by making connections that would be impossible for a human to identify. Once you understand the flow of an individual’s journey, it’s easy to automate the delivery and analysis of 1:1 personalized messages. 

From there, the AI-driven solution will learn how to better optimize the customer journey, ensuring customers see increasingly relevant emails over time. This will give your team confidence in your current view of the buyer’s journey while imparting benefits like improved engagement and increased revenue.

Start with the end

When designing your strategy, think about the desired action you’d like that specific customer to take before creating any workflows. This will help you organize multiple disparate touchpoints around a single, unified goal. Then, create a campaign to help lead customers to that desired action using your journey map or AI-driven retail marketing solution.

For instance, many retailers struggle to bring lost or at-risk buyers back into their store. If you begin with your end goal, you may decide to encourage at-risk customers to replenish an item they used to purchase regularly. From there, you can make sure all your touchpoints lead to them replenishing that product. 

Once you’ve devised a goal, go back to step one. Look for early indications that an individual’s loyalty is waning – such as a sudden dip in engagement. Make sure you have a personalized response plan ready to combat attrition when these indicators arise, and do not use a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, you need to employ an AI-driven solution that can adjust campaigns dynamically based on a single customer’s behaviors. With that in place, you can then send a personalized response on their preferred channel at the moment they are most likely to engage.

Use artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence will help you personalize multi-channel campaigns in a variety of ways. When you’re crafting a campaign, it can provide a near-instant analysis of an individual customer to help you understand the best way to communicate with each one. After you’ve created your campaign framework, the AI can also help you automatically create and execute relevant email sends in an intelligent way. 

This helps you engage in intelligent outreach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without requiring someone to constantly manage your campaigns. For example, AI can track when an individual subscriber is most likely to engage with promotional emails and send them at that point, even if that customer often checks their inbox minutes before midnight.

Ensure your data is high-quality

High-quality sources of customer, behavior and product data will make up the basic building blocks of your personalized campaign. Many retailers already have a wealth of customer and behavior data to work with but are missing the third piece of the puzzle: Product data. High-quality, regularly updated product data provides an essential conduit to connect customer and behavior data to your catalog offerings.

Thankfully, retailers produce a wealth of this product, customer and behavior data every day. A retail-specific marketing solution will be able to automatically collect and organize data from all of your owned channels and your product catalog, helping you adequately vet your data. With high-quality data at your disposal, you will be able to produce better product recommendations and offers for each individual customer.

Connect your channels

Marketers need to ensure all of the channels used in their multi-channel strategy work together to bring customers closer to purchasing. This isn’t easy, as the average multi-channel marketer uses at least seven disparate channels. These channels stretch across the following types of media:

Use the strengths of each channel to your advantage. For example, search marketing is ideal to promote a landing page that discusses all of your product details, while email marketing is a good opportunity to pick out relevant products and show plenty of visual elements. Then, ensure the next touchpoint, regardless of channel, picks up where the last touchpoint left off.

Personalize your content strategy

Personalizing your eCommerce site’s content strategy to match the personalized messaging you send on other channels will create a halo effect that positively impacts your relationship with the customer. It reinforces the consistency that should be inherent in every personalized multi-channel campaign, which has a direct tie to increased revenue.

For example, when you send a female customer that’s interested in apparel a personalized email showcasing your new fall apparel collection, don’t send her to a basic category page with men’s and women’s clothing. Send her to a personalized landing page that builds off the email you sent, complete with unique value propositions for women’s apparel and calls-to-action based on her previous engagement patterns.

Retarget using 1:1 personalization

Retargeting has a lot of power in a multi-channel strategy. If a customer spends a significant amount of time looking at certain products on your website but doesn’t buy anything, send them a personalized follow-up email with relevant information. With this type of personalization, you will be able to show them the products they are most likely to be interested in and are therefore most likely to get them back on your site.

If your target customer prefers social media over email, no problem – many social media channels, including Facebook, will allow you to upload a list of customers from your retail marketing solution for retargeting. From there, you can create highly relevant messaging to attract them back into the fold.

Summary: Multi-Channel Personalization is Here to Stay

To keep pace with rapid changes in the retail industry, all retailers must create a personalization strategy that stretches across channels. This is essential to delivering relevant messages and products to individual consumers, regardless of how they choose to engage. 

The journey to a more consistent, engaging experience through multi-channel personalization isn’t easy, but technology can help. To get started, retailers need a platform that can power seamless multi-channel personalization and is purpose-built for retail. Once you have the technology required to deliver timely personalization at scale, you’ll be rewarded with greater engagement, loyalty and marketing ROI.

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