First Impressions Count in Building Personalized Relationships

07.19.2017  /  Kurt Allen

Machine-learning, rules-based programs open up all sorts of challenges, and opportunities, for loyalty marketers to deliver one-to-one messages at scale.

It's a brave new world when it comes to engaging consumers and enabling them to interact with your brand in real time. The drivers of customer loyalty haven't changed, but your customers have. Engagement is no longer a series of one-off, usually disconnected experiences; instead, it's an always-on constant dialogue.

Whether you like it or not, customers are already having conversations about your brand on a variety of channels. Today's connected consumers are empowered by numerous brand choices and have immediate access to product information, competitive analysis and consumer reviews. With this empowerment, consumers have little patience for brand interactions that don't deliver meaningful and relevant experiences.

For loyalty marketers, it all starts with a solid first impression closely followed by a truly customer-centric relationship. In a recent report on fulfilling the relevancy promise, Forrester Research offered: "Delivering the best experiences for customers requires understanding what the customer wants. And this is where many marketers face significant hurdles — 59 percent stated they are challenged in generating customer insights, and 55 percent face an uphill battle of increasing marketing operation efficiencies that are necessary to deliver high levels of customer engagement and loyalty."

Marketers are beginning to address their uphill battle of increasing efficiencies through the active use of machine learning and rules-based marketing automation.

A brave new world for marketers? Perhaps. But consumers have been immersed in a rules-based decisioning world for many years. From recommendation engines like Netflix and Amazon to daily news feeds on Facebook, consumers are accustomed to experiences becoming more relevant over time as the brands they interact with know more about them.

Why the hesitation or fear in adapting? Consider these four daunting variables:

  1. CRM systems are more complex than ever with the integration of digital history and online activity.
  2. Web and mobile insights are analyzed in real time.
  3. Digital CRM and ad placement are adding additional customer insights to the mix.
  4. Content optimization systems are evolving, and this is coupled with an increase in the volume of data flowing through all marketing systems.

In the midst of considering how to enable technology, assessing abundant content delivery options and evolving data sources, marketers still grapple with delivering the right message at the right place and the right time.

While seemingly daunting, these challenges shouldn't keep you from getting out of bed in the morning. There's tremendous possibility in this new environment to:

  • Absorb unlimited amounts of data to act and react in real time with your customers.

    Machine-automated technologies can absorb unlimited amounts of data at a speed that allows you to act and react in real time with your customers. Through modeling with defined sets of data sources, systems can identify the most relevant variable and constantly optimize the next best offer or communication for your customer. These models learn with each interaction and continually improve recommendations or predictions based on the continued learning.

  • Test, learn, fine-tune, readjust and measure at scale.

    Marketers can now deliver and test thousands of offers simultaneously versus traditional test-and-control strategies. Machine-automated technologies can reveal predictive indicators to determine the nearly endless messaging options to engage customers while providing the most relevant, effective customer experience. Machine-learning, rules-based programs allow marketers to deliver personalized customer experiences at scale.

Machine learning is here to stay, and the considerations for your organization are many — from internal staffing to technology infrastructure to legal and creative execution. This means rethinking your end-to-end customer-engagement strategies, starting with your first impression. And in this brave new world, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.