Building meaningful customer relations with Sitecore personalisation
According to a Forbes Insight study, only 1 in 4 business leaders believes customers are loyal to brands, while 62% say the concept of loyalty is now close to obsolete. The study, which surveyed companies with at least $1 billion in annual revenue, also revealed that developing a customer-focused environment and delivering personalized marketing has become a strategic imperative.
Why is that? The reason is simple. Customers now value the experience more than they value the brand providing it. If your competitor offers faster, more convenient, and more personalized customer experience, you can’t rely on the aging concept of brand loyalty to rescue you.
Sitecore DXP is one of the technology platforms that provides personalisation feature. Sitecore personalisation allows you to display targeted, relevant content to your contacts based on their characteristics and behavior, such as location, gender, or previous visits.
We wanted to learn more about how it works in practice, so asked Vivienne Maguire, the Head of Digital Transformation at Ibec, Niall Berwick, the Digital Project Manager at RCSI, and Fergal McHugh, the Head of Strategy at Arekibo to share their opinion and experience working with personalisation.
Why does personalisation matter? - Fergal
It matters because it’s part of what customer’s expect. Obviously, it is neither possible (right now), or even desirable to attempt to fully replicate bricks-and-mortar type experiences on digital channels, but there is an important sense in which the halo of attention our customers get in a good physical retail experience is an important aspect of how our customers connect with us. When we plan for personalisation we are just focusing on ways to make the online experience more nuanced, giving customers the sense that that we are incorporating our understanding of what they need into how we provide that experience. There are degrees and we need to take values such as privacy into account, but the research is pointing in one direction that tailored digital experiences are what customers want and need.
One way of demystifying personalisation while also getting a sense of its benefits is the idea of curation. If we think about stores, we like in some cases we are interested in the long-tail model - Amazon is great because it has everything. But in many ways these kinds of marketplaces are the exception, what we tend to value is an edited approach that reflects to us the kinds of things we are interested in and care about. At its simplest, this involves cutting out noise and distraction, making it easy for us to find the things we are interested in and dig deeper if required. So, one way of thinking about this is that experiences that are not personalised can often be bad experiences, time-consuming, frustrating etc. If we start with this idea personalisation doesn’t seem optional anymore.
How does one start with personalisation? - Vivienne
We are at the beginning of our personalisation journey and starting our customer journey, mapping and looking at the overall customer journey. This of course means we are developing out all our touch points both internally and externally and working closely with this data to provide us with a really good view of how our customers interact with us and ultimately, how we can deliver the most engaging and relevant content to best serve our audience needs.
I believe personalisation starts long before activating that feature on your DXP. It begins with choosing and building the infrastructure that will support your personalisation work in the future. The second step is creating a stronger unified brand voice and ensuring that this brand voice is consistent across all touchpoints and assets. The next step is understanding your data, finding patterns that will help you set parameters for personalised experiences.
Once you feel comfortable with data, it is time to look more closely at your audience. It does not necessarily mean creating user personas; however, you do need to acknowledge the unique needs of the audience to be able to deliver useful, cohesive, and timely content. It is important to keep it simplistic yet relevant. Focusing on the different needs in the broad sense would help avoid the common mistakes of creating too many personas or grouping several different customers under one persona.
Ibec itself encompasses a powerful lobbying force who develop campaigns for real changes to the policies that matter most to business, 37 trade associations covering a range of industry sectors and a wide range of professional services and management training to members on all aspects of human resource management, occupational health and safety, employee relations and employment law. It offers such great diversity of engaging content and we are looking to further developing our approach to personalisation and delivering an even more relevant and engaging experience for our members.
What would you advise to companies who are still unsure of whether to do personalisation or not? - Niall
We have just started working with personalisation. One of the reasons we originally selected Sitecore because of personalisation. Before we could start, we focused on consolidating the sites, migrating, and optimizing our content and finishing all the infrastructure work. We have launched rcsi.com, which went live in the summer of 2020, and are ready to leverage on what we have built by adding further personalisation.
RCSI is a global organisation. We have campuses in Ireland, the Middle East and South East Asia and a large international Alumni community. Operating in a highly competitive market, we are constantly looking for better ways to attract high caliber academic and research talent. We have large number of target audiences both domestic and international so presenting them with the right information at the right time is an absolute priority.
I can see why some businesses are hesitant to start working with personalization. Personalisation seems like doing double the work. In a way, that is true. Content such as your businesses unique selling points are slightly different based on where the audience is coming from, so you need to work a lot on optimizing your content and understanding your audience.
But on the flip side, it is double the work either way, because if you don’t invest time in preparing your message, it may result in a failed opportunity to reach a specific audience. For businesses who are wondering if personalisation is for them, I would say do not bother unless it is done in a targeted and measurable way. Be ready, it requires additional resources, effort and skills from your content and marketing teams. But once done properly, personalisation becomes a strong advantage in enhancing your customers' digital experience of your brand.
Personalisation can help create a personal connection between the brand and the customers, which fosters their loyalty, and ultimately boosts the bottom line. However, great personalised experiences are not built in one day. They require having a secure and feature-rich platform, ready to scale together with your business as it grows.
If you are considering adding personalisation to your business or would like to start your Sitecore digital journey, contact us today.