With each passing year, personalization seems to get more personal. As a result, marketers are faced with new challenges when it comes to meeting their customer's high expectations around what 'personal' really means while ensuring privacy and security standards are met.
To help your business stay competitive in an increasingly demanding space, we spoke to boots-on-the-ground marketers about the personalization trends we should expect to see and implement in 2023.
What does personalization mean to customers in 2023?
As a marketer, putting personalization at the forefront of your marketing strategy will allow you to create more meaningful and memorable experiences for your customers to strengthen loyalty. But over time, personalization has gone from being little more than [first-name] in an email subject line, to an expectation that your brand can understand and respond to your customer’s every need, pain point, and goal.
The general idea is that your marketing needs to meet your customer's definition of personalization. So, to start, let’s dive into what personalization actually means for customers.
Will Young, Head of Growth at Instrumentl, believes personalization will be more experiential in the year to come, stating, “it will be more about how you feel and how you want to be treated, rather than just what you've bought before. I think we'll start to see targeted messaging based on the context and environment in which people are making purchases so that every interaction with a company feels like an individual experience.”
These personalized experiences can only be created with adequate customer data collected in a safe and compliant manner.
With looming changes to data collection laws, Anton Konopliov, Founder of Redline Digital, believes that customers in 2023 will, “expect increased commitment and attention in the area of data usage transparency. Users today are more concerned with the security of their data and expect businesses to be upfront and truthful about how their data is gathered and used.”
“This will be impactful for personalization because it essentially depends on the very data that the bulk of end users are trying to safeguard. Expect to see more and more brands take the initiative in this area by fully disclosing how and why they gather user information and promising to utilize it in accordance with the purposes specified in the request,” Konopliov added.
8 personalization trends to watch for in 2023
Collecting and utilizing zero-party data
With the ever-changing laws on data collection and privacy regulations, developing a zero-party data strategy is fast becoming essential for businesses that want to deliver the hyper-personalized experience their customers demand.
There is no more reliable data available than the information your customer shares directly — and since they’ve handed it over in the first place, they are less likely to feel their privacy has been violated when that data is used in marketing.
Because of this, many marketers are opening up the channels of communication to gather the data they need, and operationalize it.
“We're seeing brands use things like quizzes and surveys at various stages of their funnel to learn about individual customer product preferences, problems they're trying to solve, and more. Quizzes are particularly effective for this in both B2B service-based settings and also eCommerce,” shared Ryan Turner from Ecommerce Intelligence.
The Marketing Manager at Localizely, Damjan Tanaskovic agrees, “Zero-party data will be the foundation on which personalization strategies are built, and I expect that any personalization efforts revolving around customer-provided data will yield greater results than all the other approaches combined.”
“With zero-party data, customers are divulging all the information that marketers need to build brand strategies that work. They are telling us what personalization means to them - all we have to do is listen and give the customers what they want,” Tanaskovic continued.
Focus on centralized data
"Unfortunately, many companies that gather customer information intending to use it for personalized marketing end up hurting themselves by storing the data inaccessibly or incomprehensibly. The information exists in separate silos and is therefore inaccessible from other digital platforms used by the business," shared Susan Melony, Founder At FreePeopleSearch.
"In 2023 and beyond, brands will invest more heavily in solutions that consolidate data and generate a single perspective of the customer journey in real-time in order to maximize personalization and the customer experience," added Melony.
The need to centralize data is apparent as companies are using more and more data sources to build complete views of their customers. A customer data platform (CDP), like Ortto will collect and centralize all this data, eliminating the risk of data silos plus allowing organizations to understand their customers with complete context.
"When customer data is stored in a single, unified platform, marketers gain better visibility into the behavior and preferences of their customers. They can easily access the data and use it to segment customers into different groups and create personalized experiences for each group. This data can be anything from customer demographics and purchase history to preferences, interests, and opinions," explained Ben Lack, Founder & CEO of Interrupt Media.
This focus on centralizing your data is important as, “personalization in marketing is all about understanding your customers on a deeper level. This means getting to know them not just as an aggregate group of people who bought a certain product or visited your website but as unique individuals with their own unique needs and preferences,” shared Content Manager from Spacelift, Kate Wojewoda-Celinska.
She continues, “to do this, companies will need to gather data about their customers in much more detail than they do today. This could mean using data collected from a whole range of sources – such as social media, purchase histories, website visits, etc. – to build detailed customer profiles that can be used to deliver relevant content and recommendations.”
By centralizing your data, you create a more holistic view of your customers, making it easier for you to personalize their experience across all touchpoints.
Increased use of automation and AI
We’re entering a ‘do more with less’ era of marketing, particularly in the tech and B2B/SaaS space. Given personalization can be time-consuming and complicated, it is expected that marketers will increase their reliance on automation and artificial intelligence (AI).
“This creates a seamless experience for the customers and reduces manual efforts on the brand’s side, allowing them to focus more time and energy on crafting unique experiences that engage and delight their customers,” he added.
“Be prepared to see increased automation in personalization tasks like chatbot product recommendations or automated email campaigns according to which landing page a user interacts with. There will be a decreasing number of blanket recommendations and impersonal email blasts and more automated, data-driven, individualized strategies,” shared Anton Konopliov, Founder of Redline Digital.
Growth Manager at SwagMagic, Jas Banwait Gill agrees with the popularity of automated chatbots in 2023, “because chatbots engage visitors as soon as they land on your website, they enable support agents to gather CX insights in real-time.”
“An automated live welcome message with buttons allows customers to indicate the purpose of their visit before starting a conversation with a team member. Using AI to start the conversation takes the guesswork out of how to offer more targeted support. It's also a customer-centric way to create a more personalized, instant, and effortless experience,” she added.
Creating personalized messaging through automation can be difficult, “unless you understand the data you have, put that data into a tool, and use that to automate your communications to consumers. This could be automating things like ‘the next best action’ based on what customers have done in the past and what they might do next,” says Ken Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Digital Marketing Institute.
The rise of facial recognition
It's likely that you are already using facial recognition technology with your smartphone when you access your wallet or unlock your phone. In terms of personalization, think of it like this, a customer walks into a brick-and-mortar store and, through facial recognition, the sales associate is alerted to the customer's preferences.
Facial recognition is set to transform the user experience, specifically in the retail industry. In fact, in 2021, the facial recognition market was responsible for 21% of the revenue within the retail and ecomm sector and is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.4% from 2021 -2028.
“More and more traditional stores are employing facial recognition technology to better cater to their clientele. This software can track the number of customers in a store, determine how long they spend there on average, and study how they act while there. Ruti, a small clothes boutique in California, has implemented facial recognition in-store and uses the data to improve its product recommendations,” shared Susan Melony, Founder of FreePeopleSearch.
She continued, “facial recognition cameras are also being added to billboards. The footage captured by these cameras is not saved in any way. Instead, they detect the viewer's demographics and emotional state to serve relevant ads.“
Founder of Auto Loan Calculator, Anup Kayastha, is a huge advocate for facial recognition believing that “it's much easier to provide product recommendations and buying experiences that align with each customer's attributes, mood, preferences, dislikes, recent purchases, and their online/offline behavior.”
Personalization beyond email
Even though email marketing is one of the biggest platforms when personalization is in action, it’s important not to put all your eggs into this one channel. Customers expect a completely personalized experience with your brand, from SMS, paid digital media, in-app messages to in-store experiences. These channels are no longer competing, they need to be aligned and personalized.
Kingston Vickers from technetics.com has a strong view on the omnichannel offering, stating, “the soft touch companies need to understand that webpages are quickly becoming a fax machine in terms of the primary touchpoint for a customer. There are so many diverse means to develop customized experiences online.”
An omnichannel approach enables consumers to jump between channels and encounter the same experience, this includes all your support channels (e.g. chatbots). The effort placed into providing a personalized and interactive experience here will build trust and in turn, you will receive better and more constructive customer feedback in real time.
“By collecting feedback from customers through surveys or conversations with chatbots, businesses can better understand what works best for them and adjust their strategies accordingly,” shared Brandon Schroth, Founder of Reporter Outreach.
“Companies should strive to make every interaction one that's valuable to the customer – not just a one-size-fits-all approach,” adds Schroth.
For your message and content to impact your customers, it relies heavily on sending it to them at the right time and place. From the data collected from your customers, you can ensure your communications are sent in the right timezone, and at a time when they are usually most active.
“Location-based advertising, marketing, and targeting are other long-term developments we keep an eye on. Companies may now more accurately target certain consumers at any given time and provide them with tailored content," shared Melony.
"Geofencing is a form of location-based marketing in which businesses can target clients with targeted offers based on their physical locations. It essentially constructs a virtual boundary around a business location using a combination of GPS and radio frequency identifiers," she added.
“The customer's smartphone plays a crucial role in this individualized approach. Most individuals, according to polls, worry when they have to leave their phones behind. Combine that with the fact that almost every modern smartphone has location-revealing tools like GPS, IP address, QR code, and app."
Personalized loyalty programs
Rewarding customers through loyalty programs strengthens your customer-brand relationship and, in turn, improves your retention rate. Tailoring your loyalty program to fit your customer's preferences will further cement your customer's loyalty to your company.
Lisa Richards, CEO and Creator of the Candida Diet not only agrees with this trend, but is actively “rolling out a personalized loyalty program that includes incentives aligned with the values, preferences, and interests of each particular customer persona/demographic that we have identified.”
“For instance, our loyalty program targeted towards millennials will include the option to donate their loyalty rewards to a cause of their choosing. Our research shows that at least 50% of our millennial audience would prefer donating the rewards as opposed to redeeming them for their use. We'll do this for all the other demographics that we target,” Richards added.
“Personalized loyalty programs will help increase our revenues from each segment, as more than 60% of consumers report spending more when they subscribe to a company’s loyalty membership program,” concluded Richards.
Made-for-you video content
“I can say that video will play a huge role in making your customers feel seen and heard,” shared Nebojsa Savicic, Co-founder of Plainly. With video content continually proving to be the preferred asset choice, being able to personalize the experience will increase its popularity even more.
The video software will pull customer data to, “personalize the name of the person's company, their job title, color, event agenda, and more. The more data you have in your database, the greater possibilities you have for personalizing at scale,” added Savicic.
While this technology has not been adopted by marketers at large yet, we have seen successful use cases in the media space. For example, Bloomberg's Olympic reporting and live Tweets with videos were generated in minutes using video software that takes data points to automatically fill in the details on video.
Personalized videos could make a big splash in 2023, “because it's an easy, and immediate way to build a connection with your audience. Once you build a relationship with your community, you are halfway there to owning a hugely successful business,” added Savicic.
“By investing in personalization technology and utilizing data-driven insights in their marketing strategies, businesses in 2023 have the potential to offer customers truly targeted experiences that cater to their individual needs – all while improving loyalty rates and brand recognition in the process,” added Schroth from Reporter Outreach.
Get started with enhanced personalization today by consolidating your data and leveraging it for customer journeys and experiences in Ortto.
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“We were looking for a solution that was really easy to use, didn’t require a tech team, and would have a robust integration with Salesforce so we could trigger sales communications in a smarter way. Nobody else out there has what Ortto has.”