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Building a dynamic customer profile to drive personalization

Published January 13, 2022

Each on their own, flour, sugar and butter are mere ingredients. So too are varied sets of customer data. But when you blend them together, you’ve got one cookie of a customer profile. 

Each consumer’s cookie preferences are unique. But if we observe their choices and actions over time, we can take that basic cookie and tailor bake it to each individual’s preferences, adding just the right mix of spices, chocolate and other flavors.  This is called a dynamic customer profile.

Businesses that harness data to build dynamic customer profiles create trust and connection with customers on an individual level, driving brand loyalty and higher revenue.

Create your one-to-one marketing workflow

Not every bakery is the same size, and not every business has a large marketing team to dedicate to a one-to-one marketing initiative.

A personalized marketing initiative can be as small or large as the resources and people available to you. The largest enterprises may have one (or more!) people to fulfill each duty, while talent at smaller organizations may have to wear multiple hats or outsource tasks.

Regardless, to create dynamic customer profiles, you’ll need to:

  • Create content - the text, images, videos, graphics or audio that will engage your audience. While customers can be leery of how their data is used, when businesses leverage personal information to improve the experience, 63 percent of people are willing to share. A fitting example is Spotify’s end-of-year Wrapped project, which takes listener’s data and uses it to share favorite songs and create personalized playlists. 
  • Develop software for data collection - there are many options for business owners who don’t have the resources to build their own data collection software. It’s important to find a tool that is easy to use, collects relevant and real-time data and consolidates data sources into one location.
  • Design attractive websites, apps and other assets - visitors are bombarded with information, and attention spans are short. Your audience is more likely to stick around and engage with a beautiful, clear website that works well and loads fast.
  • Analyze the data - Interpreting what the data mean involves looking for patterns that can lead to recommendations for campaigns and initiatives. While there are free tools like Google Analytics, a good customer engagement tool should have more features available to identify trends and actionable ideas from your data.

Related: These global marketing trends will make your business stand out

Document what you’re trying to achieve with one-to-one marketing

Before you fire up the oven or dig into the process of building dynamic customer profiles, take the time to document why you’re allocating resources to this initiative and identify your measures of success.

For example, if you want to improve customer retention and repeat visitors, try measuring whether users are registering for your loyalty program. 

If the goal is higher engagement, then time-on-page and click-through rates may be important data points. 

To see if your one-to-one marketing efforts are leading to a larger wallet share of existing customers, track average order value.

There are many potential performance indicators; winnowing them down to a couple of mission-critical data points will keep the assessment of your marketing initiative focused.

Aggregate your data sources

Data flies at businesses from every direction, but all that information is far less useful if it languishes in silos, like ingredients that need blending. Marketers pursuing dynamic customer profiles need a tool to pull all of that information into a single, easily-accessible location.

Use tools like your POS system to learn what customers purchase and when, how often they buy and how much they spend when they purchase.

Connect that information to specific buyers through loyalty programs and registration forms that gather contact information and geographic data.

Pair it all with qualitative social media data to determine customer interests and what they’re saying about your brand.

Third-party software can help with each of these pieces, as well as segment customers into increasingly smaller cohorts. Customer engagement tools can even make some informed guesses about everything from income to entertainment choices based on a customer’s demographics and behaviors.

Using this information, you’re ready to take these narrow customer profiles, create individualized experiences for them and, based on the results, make them dynamic.

Develop personalized experiences based on the data

Once you’ve gathered your data in one place, it’s time to create unique flavors for each of your customers’ tastes. Every journey is different, and the data you’ve gathered can help you form a hypothesis for what a customer needs from your business during each interaction.

From the moment a customer arrives on the home page, they can be greeted based on the time of day where they live. Different sections of the page can be programmed to display items based on previous purchases or demonstrated interests. 

Netflix, for example, offers different media artwork for different viewers.

Visitors arriving on a product page can be shown items that best match their preferences right up top. If a customer bought a pair of large jeans from your store before, that size could be sorted to display first.

Personalization doesn’t stop after a customer makes a purchase. Companies can use dynamic customer profiles to offer complementary products, follow-up with emails about the care and maintenance of a new purchase or provide tips and tricks to get the most out of their new purchase.

Even when a customer isn’t actively shopping, personalization is one way to keep your brand top of mind at times when it is relevant and useful. Reach out to a customer with a deal if one of your stores is in the neighborhood they’re visiting. Let customers know when a product they purchased previously has a new edition or useful upgrade. Or gift them a product discount based on the season or even the local weather.

The same opportunities for one-to-one marketing exist in-store, too. With all customer data centralized, the history of your company’s relationship with a customer is at the hands of clerks in-store who can use that information to steer customers to the right product.

Assess results and determine next steps

After building your dynamic customer profiles and creating content that speaks to your customers on a one-to-one level, it’s time to follow the data crumbs to see where you can learn and improve.

Look for patterns that predict customer behavior. Did certain content make specific segments of customers respond the way you expected? Did messages receive a better response at one time versus another within a valuable cohort?

Not everything will connect the way you hoped. Determine where the customer journey breaks down — are they bouncing from landing pages? Abandoning shopping carts? Of course, understanding the what is easier than the why. 

This is where you develop some new hypotheses to explain what the data is telling you, and tweak the personalized conversations you’re having with customers. Then, retest and observe.

Personalization is a treat that keeps your customers coming back

Personalizing your entire marketing apparatus is too big of a cookie to eat in one bite. Start by determining your highest value customers and develop an initiative that delivers them a one-to-one experience first. Identify the tasks your team can handle, and enlist help filling the gaps. 

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