Gone are the days of generic, cookie-cutter customer experiences. What used to be considered efficient and effective is now deemed irritating and irrelevant by most consumers.
To succeed in this brave new (digital) world, brands need to understand the importance of personalisation and its place in the individualised buyer journey. Instead of blasting customers with lacklustre, indiscriminate automated communications, brands should be using customer data to meticulously enhance personalisation.
Modern consumers are interested in brands that understand their needs and wants, and can help solve their problems. By employing consumer insights and user intent data to create individualised buyer journeys, brands can build a user experience that stands apart from the competition – choosing quality over quantity.
But how can brands leverage personalisation to create an individualised buyer journey? Let’s explore.
Offer valuable, individualised content at every stage of the buyer journey
First and foremost, brands need to offer value at every stage of the buyer journey – keeping in mind that users’ needs change depending on where in that journey they are.
While those in the first stage of awareness may require an introduction to your brand or industry via a blog post, those about to make a purchase decision need more detailed information to pinpoint their specific issue – perhaps via a whitepaper or product video.
To be fair, finding the sweet spot for each stage is easier said than done – as far too often, brands offer up content that doesn’t meet user intent or pique their interest. Furthermore, many brands have yet to understand that modern consumers want to feel in control of their experience. Users want access to enough information and quality content to feel as though they’re making an informed decision, rather than trusting a brand blindly.
Thankfully, issues like these can be solved by taking a deep dive into customer data to find patterns and insights which, ultimately, reveal what kind of content users need to progress in the buyer journey and feel a sense of control.
For example, if you find that a large percentage of customers are dropping out from the consideration stage, you should think about providing new content that allows users to more easily compare your brand with competitors – highlighting your unique USPs and offerings.
Focus on authenticity
For consumers to trust a brand, they need to feel that brand communications are authentic – not forced or robotic. There’s nothing quite like receiving a message from a brand and knowing that not a single human was involved in its creation.
Thus, for brand communication to feel authentic, it requires a few things: real, human involvement; access to detailed customer data; and an excellent command of the language used.
Consumers are far savvier than we give them credit for. Whether they can identify the exact issue or not, getting a soulless message crafted by a machine can scream ‘uncanny valley’. Something is just…off. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use automation where it makes sense – just make sure you’re involved in the creation process.
When it comes to how customer data improves the buyer journey and strengthens authenticity, it’s all down to connection and trust. Consumers want to connect with brands and trust that they have their best interests in mind. The best way to establish that trust and connection is to utilise customer data in an intelligent manner to figure out what consumers need.
When you know what users want and when they want it, you’ll be able to craft content that lends itself to a far more personalised buyer journey. Being able to anticipate users’ needs at different stages leads to increased trust and, subsequently, higher purchase rates.
Finally, for brand communication to feel authentic, it’s crucial that there’s an excellent command of the language used. Glaring mistakes and awkward wording are big turn-offs to many consumers – leading to less trust and weaker connections. By ensuring that all communication within a buyer’s journey is natural-sounding and grammatically correct, the customer will feel more at ease.
Follow shifts in audience needs and interests
The past year and a half have irreparably changed the way people make purchase decisions. With a large majority of purchases happening exclusively in the digital world, brands need to work harder than ever before to ensure each consumer’s journey is individualised to fit their needs.
And with purchasing power shifting from older generations to millennials and gen Z, it’s vital that brands understand this rising power’s interests and values to create effective personalisation for the buyer journey.
First, brands must be hyper-aware of the values and principles their target audiences hold if they’re going to craft a buyer journey that connects with them. From a growing interest in sustainability to transparency to brand ethics, there are plenty of shifts in values to explore. By gathering customer data and then using it to extrapolate others’ needs, brands stand a far greater chance of meeting user expectations.
Second, brands should heed the shift in communication preferences that many consumers have undergone. While baby boomers and gen X may prefer subscribing to emails or receiving direct mail, millennials and gen Z prefer using brands’ mobile apps, following them on social media, and receiving text messages.
By utilising the means of communication that your target audience favors, brands can show consumers that they understand their needs and respect their wishes.
At the end of the day, brands need to shift their understanding of what constitutes a successful buyer journey. Instead of focusing solely on selling their products and services, brands should concentrate on solving consumer problems and providing the resources they need to feel informed and in control.
When brands are able to focus on the larger and more important goal of earning consumer trust and establishing strong connections – rather than just making sales – they’re bound to be more successful in the long run.
The most successful brands possess a deep understanding of their customers. And for those that want access to the most reliable customer data and insights, brand tracking software like Latana will get you there.
Cory Schröder is content marketing manager at Latana.