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How Customer Intent Can Be Used to Enhance Your Personalization

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Author: Benoit Soucaret

November 19, 2021

Securing a customer at the correct moment in time has never been more important. With so many things to grab a customer’s attention, you have to make sure that your brand is present the minute your customer intends to make a purchase. In order to do this, you have to have a clear view of a customer’s journey and their intent. Take a look at our Understanding Intent eBook to learn more. 

A customer-first approach to personalization

 

The customer journey

Don’t see customer complaints as a negative in the case of building your personalization strategy – use them as data. Your customer didn’t like that their order was late – offer them discounted express shipping. Your customer opted out of marketing emails – find a different way to communicate with them that they prefer. The more knowledge you have about your customers’ preferences, the more you can build out their intent. This is why it is important that your data isn’t sitting in silos. For example, make sure that the data your customer service team keep on customers is visible to the marketing team and vice versa. The customer sees your brand as a whole entity, not as separate teams, so you should appear to operate as a connected network.

However, brands cannot understand intent by only looking at a customer’s past purchases. Most brands approach it by using demographics, past purchases, etc. You can create campaigns, mobile apps, websites, etc., but if you don’t look at the actual customer journey (which is increasingly more fragmented and very different to what it was even 18 months ago) or the engagement or the conversion data to learn more about their behaviors holistically and better understand their intent, then you are wasting millions. If you want to be successful, you need to use an iterative test-and-learn approach to find the digital experiences that engage and convert your audiences, delivering modified and evolving customer experiences.

 

Personalization is data-driven

While segmenting your data pools and sending communications personalized to those separate segments can be better than no personalization at all, this is a kind of mass-customization that isn’t customer driven. A more customer-focused approach to really understand your customers’ intent involves far more data. A lot of brands struggle to go beyond this mass-customization stage simply due to a lack of data, with the main challenge being convincing customers to hand over their data.

Your customer should be just as happy to give you their data as you are with using it – they should feel that it is being used for their benefit. But before jumping on delivering marketing communications to the customer with discounts and offers, brands need to take a step back and ask themselves, “what problem are we solving for our customers?”, “what will we do next?”, and, “how can we make it easier for them?” By taking this customer-first approach, you can deliver a valuable experience to your customers.

 

Creating a complete view of intent

Not only should you consider your customers’ past actions, but also anticipate what they’d be looking for in the future. Take a look at a customer’s negative experiences, as well as their positive, to build a fuller picture about your customer’s preferences. The brands who will win in the personalizing for intent game are those who are able to collect lots of data about their customers over multiple devices and platforms. Take Amazon for example; they offer services across multiple touchpoints, from voice assistants, to online platforms, to mobile devices. They are present at every stage of a customer’s journey into buying a product, and they are easy to access once they customer has decided they want to make a purchase. Not only do they make themselves available for a sale, but they are also collecting data at each of these touch points, that builds out a larger image of the customer.

Because of the need to capture your customers’ activity for as many touchpoints as possible, your personalization strategy should be ever evolving to accommodate for changes in customer behavior. Are you set up for a customer to switch to a preference for a different platform? Are you able to accommodate for big customer life events like a marriage or having a child? You need to take all of these possible behavioral changes into account in order to maintain a relationship with your customers. For more detail on intent-based personalization, take a look at our eBook.

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