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The Dawn of Personalisation in the Age of the Customer

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 3/04/2016 Advertising Week

2016-04-03-1459722557-7243177-personalData.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-04-03-1459722557-7243177-personalData.jpg By Anne-Cécile Michaud Lichtenstein, Global Chief Strategy Officer, Havas Media Group

Earlier this year, the Brazilian TAM airlines came up with an ingenious way to improve passenger engagement levels with its inflight magazine. It had discovered that people on its flights spent less than 3% of their time in the air flicking through the magazine and less than 11% could even remember what they’d read.

To change this and to coincide with the anniversary of TAM’s Milan to Sao Paolo route, the airline teamed up with Facebook to create the most personalised inflight magazine ever.

Using Facebook Connect profile and behaviour data, the airline produced individually customised magazines that featured articles about each passenger along with pages full of photos, facts and events that they’d love to read about. They even had a photo of each passenger on each front cover and the magazines were all placed on the correct seats.

Despite this being a one-off stunt, it serves to remind us that when personalisation is done well, it can create meaningful connections with customers that can last a life-time.

Naturally, every single passenger who flew TAM airlines that day read their personalised inflight magazine cover-to-cover and even took it home with them as a reminder of the experience.

More importantly however, by putting the individual interests of each passenger at the forefront of the campaign, TAM made them feel special and valued, while something as boring as a flight was transformed into a meaningful brand experience.

Retail brands are evolving this notion of a more personalised experience and finding new ways to communicate and help their customers on an individual basis.

Take beauty product discovery service, Birchbox.com for example. Its business relies on customer insights to ensure that the most appropriate samples are sent out according to user profiles.

Birchbox.com can’t be sending out beauty samples for curly hair to straight-haired women or make-up for dark skin-tones to fair skinned customers so mass personalisation has to be at the heart of every decision.

The only way to develop more personalised brand experiences is to understand every aspect of every customer. For example, how do customers behave when given access to information that relates specifically to their interests? What time of day and with what tone of voice would certain types of customer prefer to receive content? Do millennials like to receive emails or do they prefer to receive brand notifications within an app? And which types of content are most engaging to them? This is just a fraction of a brand’s essential considerations for each and every individual customer.

The brand goal is always to ensure that a personalised experience is a pleasant one so that it leads to long-term advocacy. When brands push too hard or attempt to disguise how they’re using people’s data, a negative reaction always follows.

But in order to achieve this goal, we do need to be using data, lots of data…lots and lots of data, because in the age of the customer, batched campaigns are a thing of the past.

Individual customer knowledge (data backed up by analytics) is the only way to provide a truly personalised campaign. It needs to come from every platform, from every response to email and face-to-face marketing and from every ebb and flow in social media behavioural change.

To make this happen, we’ve become increasing reliant on technology that gathers data and builds actionable and persistent customer profiles across all digital touch-points, while tracking behavioural feedback and engagement across all digital touch-points and analysing and responding in real-time (again, across all touch-points) with appropriate, personalised content and experiences that best align to the customer’s intent.

If that sounds complex, it’s because it is. Against a more simplistic society backdrop of selfies and coffee cups with people’s names scribbled on the side, technology is helping to personalise our retail and brand experiences like never before. After all, this is the age of the customer and every single individual counts.

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