1. Give stakeholders clear objectives
Paraphrasing Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Clear objectives provide vital focus. They ensure that all stakeholders are aligned. Be sure that the different stakeholders involved in the personalized communications program all agree and are fully vested in achieving the program’s goals.
Effective goals may include increasing customer value, improving customer retention, and migration of customers up the loyalty-tier ladder. Less effective goals may include category growth, product sales, or brand awareness.
2. Give Marketing the leadership role
Foster team spirit by having a small, dedicated Marketing group own the initiative. Allow them to direct everyone towards the common goal rather than assigning responsibility across departments and teams. As Casey Stengel, legendary NY Yankees manager, said, “Gettin’ good players is easy. Gettin’ ’em to play together is another story.”
Personalization requires team mastery of new skills and their acquisition of new organizational capabilities. So make the individuals of this team the subject-matter experts.
Marketing will then align personalization across organizational processes. Personalization should be integral to your existing business processes. Specifically, consider how the personalization program would affect the customer experience and financial metrics.
3. Manage your offers for success
The success of your personalization program relies heavily on the attractiveness and quality of your offers. So create an offer bank. Manage and keep sourcing a collection of offers that the system allocates to shoppers to incentivize them to take the actions you want.
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Select the best products for a promotion by analyzing customer-product affinity to create on-target offers for customers. Check your promotions with category managers to see whether a promotion is aligned with mass promotion and trade restrictions.
4. Keep offers up to date
New product, old offer? Don’t let it happen to you. Typically, personalized offers are created once and then used over and over again for different customers. Times change and so do product offerings with the addition or deletion of SKUs and changes in packaging. So be sure to track these changes so they’re reflected in your offers. Here’s an example: Changes in product packaging should be reflected in the easy-to-see image on the offer.
5. Keep your offers crystal clear and relevant
Just got an offer for your favorite yogurt to discover at the checkout counter that the promotion does not include your favorite flavor? Confusing your customers may drive them away from your store and into your competitor’s open arms. There is nothing more frustrating for consumers than confusing offers.
A cure for the common confusion? Develop a process to review every offer before it goes to market. Make certain that offers are customer friendly, easy to grasp. All inclusions and exclusions should be straightforward and a snap to comprehend. Ideally, those who review your offers should resemble your customers, rather than seasoned industry veterans.
One key part of a personalized offer program is measuring the clarity of your offers and their significance to your audience. A great best practice here is to create a group of 10-15 employees. Give that group a dry run of the personalized offers. Have this advance team provide feedback. This helps raise issues and challenges that customers may face. It’s also an effective way to detect offers that don’t make sense.
6. Set a policy for offer repetition & mix
Are you sending repetitive offers? Repetitive and predictable offers equal personalization programs that may not achieve their intended objectives. As Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Prevent this by setting a policy for the mix of offers and how often they can appear.
Here are three rules of thumb that will produce a better outcome. First, limit the number of offers that one person can receive each month, as well as the number of offers from a single category. Second, create rules for the duration of time that an offer cannot reappear after a customer has redeemed it. Third, prevent situations where customers can enjoy more than one discount on the same product and also be sure that people do not receive offers from competing brands.
7. Measure the effectiveness of your program
Use your personalization program management tool to monitor and analyze the performance and effectiveness of your personalized offers. Be sure to conduct a thorough analysis in order to turn up the products with the highest potential for offers and detect issues that may occur. In the words of management guru Peter Drucker: “What gets measured gets improved.”
8. Manage demand and availability
Attracting customers with offers for products that are not available in the store is a costly way to ensure that they’ll never come back. Avoid this expensive error by developing a process to determine that all of your offers are available. Always monitor for products that are out of stock, products that have been recalled and products that have a low sales volume.
9. Educate your staff on personalization
The challenge with personalization is that your staff does not know which customer got which offer. Guard against potential problems by telling staff how the program works in general terms. Checkout attendants should also be informative–telling customers that they’ve just received a new offer for their next visit. They should not just hand over the receipt. Checkout personnel should be able to answer any questions and handle disputes quickly.
10. Collaborate with suppliers
If you’re selling FMCG, one of the keys for success in personalization is having close collaboration with suppliers on offers, creating a win-win program for retailers and suppliers. Get your suppliers to collaborate on the cost of the offer. It always helps when everyone has some skin in the game. As a reward for their risk, let them participate in offer planning as well as providing insights into the success of your offer.
We’ve all heard the expression the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get. Perhaps people think that getting exactly the offer they were hoping for is sheer luck. Experience tells us it’s the outcome of a well-managed project on behalf of retailers that includes state-of-the-art systems, well-defined offers, measurement, collaboration and education. All of which adds up to a happy customer—one that’s much more likely to buy more and keep coming back to the store.