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Personalization to support customer engagement and boost revenue

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The notion of how powerful personalization could be did not arrive suddenly this year. Amazon led the way with its personalized recommendations in the early 2000s. Businesses have been implementing personalization in various forms ever since. A surge in online purchasing during the pandemic accelerated interest on the part of ecommerce businesses.

Over time, consumers have become accustomed to personalized results when they search for products and services. They are demanding that the brands they deal with have a deep understanding of their individual needs. According to a 2018 Accenture study, about 90% of shoppers lean toward brands that provide personalized offers and recommendations. Businesses are working hard to meet those expectations, but a January 2023 report from CMSWire revealed that only 18% felt they were benefitting from their efforts.

The ingredients for personalization align closely with those needed for any KM initiative. They include data, analytics, workflow, and integration with other enterprise applications. In addition, personalization requires features such as the ability to segment users and provide multichannel support.

Personalization can be accomplished from within an existing platform such as a contact center/customer engagement platform, intranet, or CRM. Personalization engines are also available as separate software solutions to perform this function. They are most often used on websites where real-time personalization can move the customer toward an action, hopefully, a purchase.

However, doing a good job of personalization can be challenging. To personalize at scale, for example, machine learning (ML) is required to constantly refine patterns in user behavior to better predict customer interests and potential choices. This requirement and other technological barriers can impede adoption or render a personalization program ineffective. But the push remains strong, and the majority of businesses are oriented toward personalizing the customer journey.

Improving the customer experience

The Georgia Aquarium is a popular tourist destination in Atlanta, providing entertainment and education to more than 2 million visitors each year. The organization had a goal of providing personalized experiences for each stage of its customers’ visits, from ticket purchase to event participation, and follow-up contact that would encourage future visits, memberships, and donations.

In the past, ticket delivery had been unreliable and did not present the brand in a positive light, plus the interface was not user-friendly. In order to improve and expand customer communications, the marketing digital engagement department selected Iterable, which provides personalized experiences for customers. It also integrates back-office data and content management system (CMS) data to provide a full understanding of the customer.

Initially, the Georgia Aquarium implemented Iterable for an improved email campaign strategy that included promotions for new guests and loyalty campaigns for returning members. Messaging was targeted to the customer’s history and interests. Adding an option of SMS delivery of tickets speeded entry to exhibits, reducing wait time for visitors.

These enhancements resulted in improved sales and led to a 96% increase in net promotor score (NPS). The aquarium also reported a 200% increase in revenue resulting from its use of data-driven understanding of customers and more personal communications. Cross-channel interaction was also improved, as evidenced by increases in page views of its website.

Iterable is a customer communications platform that supports individualized interactions at scale. “Iterable can create AI-powered communications across email, text, and app notifications in real time,” said Kelley Turner, VP of customer success at Iterable. “For example, if a customer has just bought a pair of jeans and they can be paired with sneakers that match the customer’s style and are on sale, it can be a win for the retailer and for the customer.”

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