by Karen Cuff
Who doesn’t want to live on a quiet cul-de-sac? Peaceful living with minimal traffic, more privacy and the company of just a few trusted neighbors.
As marketers, we often send consumers into a virtual cul-de-sac when it comes to the content, products and offers we present. We give them suggestions based on their preferences, location and past behaviors – all good things within their comfort zones.
But there’s a drawback to that cul-de-sac. While the landscape may be relevant to them, it can cut consumers off from discovering something new. That’s why, in the age of personalization, we must be wary of sending our customers into a circular experience – a cycle of sameness. Think of the movie Groundhog Day. No one wants to experience the same thing over and over, on infinite repeat.
Our Corporate Marketing Solutions team at Entertainment® works with clients to create truly personalized customer connections. We add real, relevant value to the consumer experience, boosting engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty. We help clients communicate with their customers and give them the benefit of saving money with discounts on the things they do every day, anywhere, and at any time.
We know an underwhelming customer experience leads to lost opportunity, and it can be nearly impossible to regain loyalty. Personalization should be filled with opportunities for your target audience to experience something unique and exciting. It shouldn’t be just another route to the cul-de-sac of doom.
Here are a few tips on how to fulfill your customers’ desires by providing thoughtful, more-meaningful forms of personal recognition.
Understand the customer and the context
Marketers should select information that delivers value to customers based on several factors, including interests, behaviors, and demographics. For example, if a customer lives a healthy lifestyle, provide them discounts on gym memberships and healthy food choices. When there’s a new vegan eatery in town, suggest it to your health-conscious customers. Share useful information, such as a weekly fitness tip or healthy recipe. To spark engagement and interaction, ask about their fitness and dietary goals for the month.
Just remember that any customer’s behavior can change due to situational variables. In this digital age, customers are always connected, so look out for triggers that signal new opportunities. For example, if it’s a rainy day, send push notifications for savings on indoor activities to help your customer’s family pass the time. If they’re on vacation in Atlanta or Phoenix, deliver offers for excursions in those cities. If a customer is strolling through downtown Chicago at noon on a weekend, casually encourage them to take a quick lunch break with nearby dining discounts. These seemingly serendipitous experiences can be a real source of delight.
You want to tailor communications to your customer, but don’t overdo it. Finding the right balance is an art. For example, remind them it’s dinnertime, then include deals for nearby restaurants. Pick one night a week based on their behavior patterns. It’s overkill to provide a new dinner offer every day. Be helpful, not pushy.
It’s also important to refrain from alerting customers that your store is nearby, especially if your shop is on their way to work. If you plan on using push notifications, be disciplined and pick the right moments. Treat thoughtful communication as a process, not a guessing game: If text alerts are part of your messaging plan, do plenty of testing to pinpoint the proper timing and cadence for notifications. Customers do not want to be constantly interrupted.
Bring joy, not distrust
Leveraging your wealth of customer data can be a great way to build loyalty, but only if you make each customer’s experience genuinely relevant. All too often, marketers walk the thin line between convenience and privacy. One false step, and customers won’t trust that you have their best interests at heart. You need to give them an experience that taps into their personal preferences, but not something so specific that it leaves them with an eerie feeling.
There’s another way to remain relevant with your customers. Start by considering some simple truths. In our case: Everyone loves to eat out, everyone loves to save money while doing so, and consumers love the flexibility of gift cards. These principles drove the development of our new Dining Advantage® promotional gift card. Instead of leaning exclusively on behavior patterns and purchase histories, it’s an incentive that rewards customers with the freedom of choice. They use their gift card to select the restaurants and offers that they desire. Using the Dining Advantage® mobile app, they can redeem offers while they’re on the go.
As marketers, we want to give our customers the most value possible. Ultimately, this means giving them options to decide where they want to spend their time, money, and attention. It creates an association between your brand and opportunities they love. We do this by surprising and delighting them with relevant offers based on their past experiences – and also by encouraging them to try something new, exciting, and fresh.
It’s a delicate balancing act, but it’s a surefire way to avoid that mundane cul-de-sac of doom.