The balancing act: keeping up with techy trends while preserving personalisation

By Anna Wolfram

Back in March, I attended the first day of Marketing Week Live 19 at Kensington Olympia, London. The annual event is a chance for marketers with a focus on enhancing their understanding of ever-changing trends and techniques to learn from key solution providers across the entire spectrum of the marketing mix.

Throughout the day, a wide range of articulate speakers hosted sessions on all things digital, customer-focused, and content-led in the modern marketing landscape. Though topics greatly varied, there was an overarching commonality of finding the balance between personalised and technological solutions to current and future challenges in our businesses.

A wealth of industry reports shared by exhibitors and speakers highlighted illuminating shifts in marketing competencies from the perspective of both the marketer and the customer.

The brand

Your brand is your reputation; therefore, it isn’t something you can easily dictate, but often, your customers can. The aim of a brand should be to reduce the complexity of the buying decision as much as possible by sieving out competitors. To stand out from the crowd, we sometimes suffer from trying to encompass too much and therefore risking the identity of the brand. Furthermore, your website is your legacy, the centre of branding, content and the opportunity to influence customers to prescribe your brand in the desired way.

So often, we focus on collecting feedback and insight from customers on their favourite products to aid our future business plans and enhance the customer experience, but we often miss the key question – why? Every piece of opinion-based information collected should be supported by a measurable reason.

International communications and crisis management professional, Susanna Flood is an expert in brand protection in the wake of a crisis. She believes the most important part of a crisis for any brand, is the recovery. Social media and traditional media preservation are equally important in crisis management and both come back to personalisation. A backlash on social media can spread like wildfire and is only fuelled further if initial attempts to settle the situation are badly received. Negative comments on social media should be replied to with a brief, but personal and sincere response, taking the conversation offline wherever possible. Susanna advised that social platforms should be used tactically, suggesting, for example, that a press release response is uploaded in order to redirect the conversation into one controlled online space, rather than risk comments being plastered on every possible outlet.

The tone of voice used on social media may differ from the tone of voice in an official statement, and therefore a blanket response will not cut it. As you can’t manage what you can’t measure, it’s important that management at all levels are made aware of the threat of backlash on social and in the media. Susanna concluded that to recover from a crisis, you must always respond, listen, engage and measure.

The marketer

Shopping, regardless of the product, used to follow a relatively linear protocol. Now, however, roughly 60% of the world’s transactions are digital, with an average of 56 retail consumer touch points between the introduction of the product and closing the sale.

Marketers must establish a healthy equilibrium between learning how to use the latest streamlined technology for efficient processes, and keeping targeted marketing personalised for the customer. Dani Wolley, head of customer success at Upland Adestra divulged that 93% of their users see an uplift in ROI using personalisation such as posing a question to the consumer in their email subject line. The ‘one size fits all’ strategy will no longer cut it as customers expect brands to have done their research before approaching them for business.

The customer

Bridging the gap between customer expectation and marketing reality can be a challenge. In a recent survey by Acquia, almost nine out of ten marketers felt they were meeting the needs of the customer, compared to over half of consumers that felt the brands they interact with fail to offer a good experience. In a busy society where everybody feels cheated of time, more and more, the customer is looking for simplicity, clarity and transparency from brands. A clever, but irrelevant campaign may be enough to grab the fleeting attention of consumers but is not enough to close a sale.

As part of a panel discussion on the future customer and what it means for marketers, Eve’s newly-appointed CMO, Cheryl Calverley reiterated that everybody will be looking for simplicity, but will retain the expectation of choice. With accessibility to choose now sky-high, we must accept that technology facilitates, rather than changes, the customer’s behaviour. TSB’s CMO, Pete Markey agreed that technology will only take us so far, and there will still be a real need for real interaction.

Fostering innovation in marketing by challenging the status quo, we at Custard look forward to driving forward these initiatives for each of our clients. To find out how Custard can help promote your business, get in touch.