People stop doing business with a company for a number of reasons. As many as 30% to 40% of U.S. consumers have switched brands or retailers in pursuit of better prices, product availability, quality and purpose, according to McKinsey.

While customer loyalty remains low, the cost of acquiring new customers is high. But brands face other challenges as well. The modern customer journey requires brands to use multiple channels and devices. Marketers must be prepared to quickly adapt to new trends and adopt new avenues to reach consumers. A digital strategy that was successful yesterday may not work today. As brands continue to focus on building relationships with customers, meaningful engagement should be the focus of their approach.

A brand’s ability to adapt and evolve has become a fundamental — and necessary — skill. With the pandemic continuing to have a significant impact on customer behavior, now is the time for marketers to reevaluate their strategy to engage customers by reimagining tactics such as personalization.

Personalization has been part of marketing strategies for years, yet some remain unconvinced it’s worth the investment. Forrester observed that the ROI of personalization is low because of inadequate buyer insights, stating that 75% of personalized engagement strategists will not meet ROI goals. In contrast to these findings, my firm Acquia’s "Upgrade the Digital CX Your Brand Delivers" 2021 report highlights how marketers are successfully employing personalization.

We asked 800 marketers about the improvements they have seen with customer engagement as a result of implementing personalization. Over half reported increased engagement with their brand, 48% saw increased conversations, 47% saw a better response to discount offers and 41% saw increased email open rates. The fact is, personalization is an invaluable part of a brand’s marketing strategy, but with customer behavior changing at an unprecedented rate, some brands find it difficult to effectively adapt their strategy.

How to Maximize Personalization

Since personalization is not a new tactic, it’s important to understand how consumers already view it in relation to their overall buying journey. Personalization is closely tied to people's customer experience, and ultimately, their impression of a brand. For example, when someone describes a positive experience with a brand, they might recall a time where a staff member greeted them by name because they were a returning customer. Or perhaps they think of a particular instance in which a retailer recommended content or products based on their past behavior. To the individual, successful personalization equates to a quality experience and the satisfaction that a brand understands what they, as an individual, really want.

In 2022, marketers will need to take this a step further and level up. As companies like Amazon and Netflix have made personalization the norm, raising the bar for other brands, consumers now expect and require a high standard when it comes to interacting with any company or service.

It’s more important than ever for brands to meet customers where they are — meaning personalization should happen seamlessly across all channels and devices as well as in-store. Although some brands are already working on unifying their digital experience across channels (almost half of marketers did in 2021, according to our survey), for many brands, this should be prioritized as an area of growth in 2022.

Related Article: Focus on the Basics to Get Personalization Right

Learning Opportunities

The Customer Data Challenge

Customer data is the fuel driving the personalization engine. Today, marketers can access a plethora of customer data from any number of sources — prompting data privacy concerns, regulations and platform policy changes intended to protect consumers. Most imminent: the phase out of third-party cookies. Now and going forward, marketers will need to rely on zero-party data to enable meaningful personalization. The information a consumer intentionally and proactively gives a brand will underpin the content and digital strategies that drive each customer’s experiences. This data should also be used to avoid presenting customers with irrelevant or off-target offers — or marketers risk losing their loyalty.

Related Article: Personalize at Scale With Modular Content

Personalization Beyond the Confines of Retail

Personalization should not stop at retail. Across industries, all companies can find ways to make it an effective strategy — because the heart of personalization is understanding your customer and reacting to their unique needs and wants. Personalization by cluster segment, geography or store preference can drive meaningful results for marketers. Companies can proactively recommend upcoming webinars and virtual events based on the time zone and create campaigns that are specific to geographical regions.

In customer service, brand representatives benefit from knowing as much as they can about the person they are interacting with. By utilizing data and knowledge of customer behavior, customer service reps can personalize interactions, making it more likely for customers to return.

Related Article: Enhancing Your One-to-One Personalization Efforts

Looking Ahead

While personalization remains a critical and indispensable driver of marketing performance, brands need to be thoughtful in the way that they use it, keeping today’s trends and customer behaviors in mind. The brands that are adaptable in 2022 will have the most success.

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