It’s no surprise that personalization is powerful for your business, but as consumers develop stronger privacy concerns there’s a point at which personalization can cross the line between helpful and uncomfortable. That’s why it’s important to incorporate updated personalization best practices into your strategy. Recent statistics show 77 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed say their online privacy has become a concern for them after scandals such as Facebook sharing user data with Cambridge Analytica. Making customers feel like you’ve infringed on their privacy is likely to alienate them, so how can companies personalize marketing messages using consumer data without going overboard?
Here’s how to make sure your personalization strategy is helping your business and not harming it.
Personalization best practices
If you’re currently personalizing your messages, it could be time for an audit to make sure you’re staying updated with best practices. If you’re just getting started, make sure your strategy takes these into account.
1. Practice opt-in marketing
There’s nothing weirder than receiving a personalized message that you haven’t signed up for, yet brands sometimes do this. That could be why about 80 percent of consumers surveyed in the study referenced above said brands contact them inappropriately. To make sure you’re not one of these brands, only send marketing messages to people who have indicated they actually want to hear from you. Here’s how to craft a great opt-in message that incorporates personalization best practices:
- Let consumers know how often they can expect to hear from you. Will it be one email a week? Three texts a month? Whatever it is, give them an idea of how regular the communications will be.
- Be clear about how they can unsubscribe. For example, if you’re sending a text message, let them know they can reply with “STOP” to opt-out of messages.
- Let consumers know about any fees involved. If you’re sending text messages, standard data rates may apply.
- Provide an idea of the kinds of messages you’ll send. Will you be sending them reminders for upcoming services that match their preferences? Asking them for feedback on recent purchases. These are all personalized messages that rely on using their customer data, so allow them a chance to give you permission to do so.
2. Use information it makes sense for you to have
Current personalization best practices help you get creative with the information in your own database. You don’t have to access third-party consumer data to come up with some great personalization techniques. Chances are, you have a lot of information on your customers that they feel totally fine with you having. You probably just aren’t using it yet.
For instance, you know the last time your customers purchased an item from you. You know what services they paid for. They might have even given you information on how pleased they were with their experience. These are all helpful data points to use in future communications with them.
Here are a few examples of how you could incorporate information it makes sense for you to have into your marketing communications.
Example 1: “Hi [customer name]. It looks like your last teeth cleaning at [business name] was on [date]. Time for another visit! Schedule your appointment here [link].”
Example 2: “Hi [customer name]! We hope you’re loving your new haircut. Next time you visit [business name], get a complimentary scalp massage by showing this message. Thanks for being a loyal customer!”
Example 3: “Hi [customer name]! Thanks for giving us feedback on your recent purchase of [item] from [business name]. We’re glad you’re enjoying it! Use this link to refer a friend and you both get 10% off your next purchase: [link]”
In each of the above examples, the personalization is meaningful and the data you have is contextually appropriate.
3. Stay consistent
Even though you might have opt-in from your customers and be using the information they’ve previously given you, if you’re not contacting them consistently they could forget about you and find a new message from you random and creepy. Whether you’re emailing or texting, make sure that you’re doing so regularly enough that there isn’t a huge gap in between messages. That doesn’t mean you have to spam your customers, but try not to go several months without contacting them.
Often times this accidentally happens when roles change within your business. If someone gets promoted or leaves your company, there could be a gap while you fill the position. Sometimes personalized messages get lost in the shuffle of onboarding. Staying connected to your list is crucial to developing strong communication practices so make sure it stays a priority.
What should you do if you have accidentally left a large gap between messages?
- Send one message reminding customers who you are and confirming that they still want to hear from you.
- Begin updating your existing database with surveys as appropriate. Preferences and circumstances change. If you’re in constant contact with you’ll know if they moved, if their marital status has changed, or other factors that could impact what personalized messages you send them. If you haven’t been in contact, beginning to survey them and recollect this data could help.
- Re-introduce yourself with a special offer to re-engage the people on your list and prove the value of receiving messages from you.
4. Always introduce yourself
Depending on what form of communication you’re using, it might not be obvious who you actually are. If you’re sending emails, you probably have your company logo inside the body of the email. This is important to do, especially if your email address doesn’t directly and obviously correspond with your company name.
If you’re sending text messages, be sure to include your business name in each message, as customers might not know who is contact them. It’s easy to look spammy if customers can’t remember who you are—which can harm you even if you’re following all the other personalization best practices.
Stay updated on personalization best practices
As consumers react to changes in the market, their privacy preferences change too. That’s why it’s important to stay attuned to current feelings about user data and adjust your personalization accordingly. Do you have any personalization best practices you incorporate into the business that you’ve noticed customers are especially receptive to? Let us know in the comments what techniques have and haven’t been working for you.
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