The competitive landscape for retailers to get their products out into the world is becoming more and more complicated by the day, and yet there are some who have managed to stay ahead of the curve. It appears they are be operating on a different level to everyone else. In reality, many of these brands have simply mastered the foundational principle of when, how and where to reach their audience through their content.
A recent ecommerce industry report by experts at Forrester concluded:
"74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized”
While the term “personalisation” gets thrown around a lot these days, only some businesses are truly taking note and employing strategies driven by customer behaviour. And one of these key strategies helping businesses master personalisation is content. If you can determine the best strategies for creating and distributing content tailored to your audiences, then you are already halfway to delivering the perfect personalised experience at scale.
When considering how to scale your personalised experiences, start by employing design thinking to build your strategy. Which is essentially a framework to create very clear, visual, maps of entire journeys to inform your strategies, provide clarity and realise your goals in an innovative manner.
A great example of strategy by design comes from well-known beauty brand Sephora, who found that user generated content marketing allowed them to build a community of loyal ambassadors to promote their products and services. The community has been inspiring the brand’s content since 2017, with video campaigns discussing standards of beauty regardless of race, religion or gender. This is topical and relevant content that reaches the masses and gives customers an active voice to boot.
A standout moment from 2017 was Sephora's “Reach Out and Gift” holiday campaign, which featured a YouTube spot that has garnered more than 1.6 million views. The stars are ten of Sephora’s own diverse in-store team members, chosen from among more than 1,000 employees who applied to share how they define unique beauty.
The time spent on strategic design to clarify the flow of communication across each journey will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Invest the time setting up the foundations before scaling.
According to Gartner’s research, companies that successfully implement customer experience projects also start with focusing on how they collect and analyse customer data.
Having insightful and actionable data is vital in any content and personalisation strategy that you build. The problem is, there is A LOT of data you could be looking at, so the first hurdle is often knowing where to start.
Ultimately, you need to know and understand your customer, and whether or not the content you share is relevant to them. Understanding how successful your content is in the eyes of your consumers is important not only for experimenting and learning purposes—so you know what works, doesn’t work, what content you should do more of etc—but the more insights you have into your customers, the better you can segment and tailor their shopping experiences on your site.
A simple but effective example is Gymshark’s gender segmentation. Once customers have been segmented based on gender preferences, Gymshark are then able to serve dynamic, personalised content tailored to individual shopping behaviours and preferences.
Ensuring the success of the steps outlined above requires having a few good tools in place. Ideally, the aim is to get to a “test and learn”, self-improving stage that iterates continuously as the exposure of your business grows. Connecting your insights to the outcomes, as part of a continuous learning process, will of course require a little automation, naturally.
Platforms like Styla can help you scale by allowing you to control the content you’re using to build the personalised experiences you want for your customers.
Without overloading yourself with too many technologies, it is also worth looking at websites and ad personalisation tools for your stack to help you extend your reach. The majority of these tools will also have great data and analytics capabilities built-in, so you can concentrate on making informed decisions about your content and ecommerce strategies.
As with any big undertaking, getting the foundations right first, and building from there, is the only way to achieve scalable success. We may have only scratched the surface of creating scalable personalised ecommerce experiences, but the key is understanding that your content will drive personalisation strategies, which will in turn eventually inform your content strategies. The two are inextricably linked.
The best place to start is implementing a good system within your business, which can grow and develop over time. A strong “supply chain” of content fed by designers, copywriters and a growing community of customers, will require commitment and discipline to undertake, but once in full swing, the rewards will be abundant.
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