This isn’t a rose tinted post about how wonderful the 1970s were. But it is a post about relationships, trust and authenticity, the sort of things our convenience store, in a very small way, did well. Without them, attempts at personalisation can feel ‘off’ – intrusive, creepy even – and results reflect that. With them, everyone profits.
There’s a growing acceptance that giving companies your data isn’t necessarily ‘a bad thing’. In a recent Yahoo study most of those surveyed were aware of personalisation and believed it added to their online experience.
Data gives us the raw material to create this personalisation, but for real success you need more than data – you need the ability to wield it without a heavy hand. Partly that’s a matter of better data management and greater insight to create algorithms capable of more than crude, blunderbuss marketing.
And partly it’s a matter of trust, because when you trust someone (like our 70s shopkeeper) you don’t question their motives or resent their interference. You just accept it for what it is: a friendly helping hand.
Credibility + understanding
Trust is when your credibility (built through positive past experiences feeding expectations of positive future ones) intersects with understanding (how well you and your customer know each other).
Our 1970s shopkeeper built credibility by, for example, knowing the favoured newspaper of every customer. Today, we do it in more technological but no less welcome ways: with a well-timed offer, for example, or by being able to make a simple purchase without having to complete a lengthy registration process.
Trust needs feeding. Growing it takes time and a clear CRM strategy. But over time, as trust builds and the data continues to pour in, so that mutual understanding develops and your audience is more likely to listen to what you have to say.
Personalisation that works
It’s the email that displays the things you almost bought on your last visit, but didn’t. It’s remembering which pizzas you ordered last time so you don’t have to start building them again from scratch. It’s spotting that you’re about to pass one of your favourite stores and pinging you a voucher to spend inside.
Personalisation feels genuinely personal when it’s built on trust and used at the right time, with integrity and subtlety. That takes more than a pile of data. It takes what our shopkeeper possessed innately: a shrewd understanding of how to use information to build long-lasting relationships.
Do you remember your favourite shopkeeper?