Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As an entrepreneur vying for market share in an increasingly competitive online environment, you’ve got to bust out all the stops to make your product or service stand out. Personalizing the customer experience is, to my mind, the least you can do when it comes to differentiating your business and improving lead generation.
Although my years as a business owner have shown this to be true, the statistics back me up here. According to an Epsilon survey, 80% of consumers want personalized experiences from retail vendors. If there’s one thing that’s indisputable about entrepreneurship, it’s that you won’t succeed if you can’t offer what the consumer demands.
That’s why it’s crucial that you personalize your customer’s experience so that their experience feels as though it were made just for them. At bottom, we all want to be made to feel special and valued — personalized experiences do just that. Here’s how.
What are personalized consumer experiences?
A personalized consumer experience refers to any interaction, product or service that is specifically designed to meet the unique individual wants and needs of a shopper. There are many ways that this can take shape in practice, including, but not limited to, the following:
Using a customer’s real name in an email subject line
Reminder emails to prospects who haven’t cleared their cart or haven’t visited lately
Tailor-made discount codes that feature the prospect’s name
“Welcome back” messages on a website’s homepage
“Thank you” offers and deals to loyal, repeat customers
Remembering the consumer’s size and style (for fashion retailers)
“Recommended for You” complementary products or services
These are just a handful of simple ways you can make your marketing material tailored for the specific end consumer. Although mostly small gestures, they go a long way toward building rapport and loyalty with your shoppers.
How to personalize consumer data
Don’t be afraid to utilize your customer or prospect’s data to offer personalized experiences. It’s a fair trade-off, according to 57% of online shoppers who gladly agree to exchange personal data in exchange for custom discounts and offers.
Here are some of the ways you can safely and ethically gather consumer data that can be utilized to provide wanted marketing material:
Geo-location data requests
Opt-in requests to email newsletters
Track cookies on your website or mobile app
Use ethically-sourced third-party data aggregators
Make sure, however, that your data collection methods remain GDPR compliant to ensure that the personal privacy rights of EU shoppers are respected.
Personalized products and services: real brand examples
Below, I’ve put together a short list of some of my favorite personalized experiences, products and services offered by top global brands. You can take inspiration from these campaigns to design your own:
1. Starbucks — Mobile app freebies:
Seattle-based coffee retailer, Starbucks, boasts one of the most popular apps on the market. In fact, as of 2019, more consumers use the Starbucks app to make purchases than Google Pay and Samsung Pay combined in the U.S.
Part of the app’s success lies in the fact that the company constantly offers free products, such as coffees and baked goods, to customers who use the Starbucks app to make payments. Simply remembering your customer’s shopping history, and offering gradual rewards for loyal customers, is a simple and effective way to personalize your consumer’s experience.
2. Amazon — Personal shopping assistant:
If you’re an Amazon shopper, you’re probably familiar with the ecommerce giant’s incredibly streamlined buyer journey. There are very few hiccups or obstacles, and everything is designed to expedite the purchase process.
What makes Amazon truly stand out, however, is its unique capacity to remember their customer and tailor its prospect’s shopping journey just for them. For example, Amazon helps the customer throughout the shopping experience by offering the following features that act as a sort of personal shopping assistant:
“Recommended for you” products
“Buy it again” products
“Pick up where you left off” notifications
“Keep shopping for” notifications
“You might also like…”
“Inspired by your wish list…”
All of these familiar prompts combine to offer a highly personalized shopping experience that makes the consumer feel respected and cared for.
3. Grammarly’s usage reports:
As a longtime content marketer and writer, I’m a big fan of Grammarly. I use it every day to craft (mostly) perfect emails and copy, thanks to their spellcheck and grammar check features.
What I appreciate most about Grammarly’s user experience is that they send me weekly reports to show me the various ways that my writing has improved or declined compared to previous weeks. They also show me where I should dedicate more attention in my writing, such as clarifying antecedents or correcting sentence fragments, for example.
I owe a lot of my marketing successes to Grammarly’s unique customer personalization efforts. Savvy business owners would do well to replicate the level of detail and care that Grammarly puts into their personalized product.
The most successful entrepreneurial projects of tomorrow are going to offer tailor-made solutions for the individual consumer. In fact, we’re already seeing it today with highly effective campaigns by brands such as Starbucks, Amazon and Grammarly.
The days of finding success with boilerplate solutions and cookie-cutter services are a thing of the past. There’s simply no question that, yes, your company should adopt personalized experiences if it wants to remain competitive in tomorrow’s digitized economy. Digital transformation starts with personalization. As entrepreneurs, neither you nor I can afford to ignore this critical first step.