Omni-channel personalisation is the strategy of delivering a single completely joined up experience across all channels and devices for every single customer. This is by no means an easy feat; however the benefits of the improved customer experience and the increases in conversion rates and revenues that can be achieved are very large indeed. But is the journey to get there such a nightmare that your efforts are better spent elsewhere? Is getting it all working seamlessly just a pipe-dream?
Firstly, there's nothing wrong with pipe dreams as long as there's value in each step that you take towards that dream – even if it turns out to be ultimately unattainable.
The first step however is a fundamental one, one that can’t be undertaken half-heartedly, and that’s getting the right technology in place. Unless the technology enables you to do the following critical components of omni-channel personalisation then you can’t even get started!
So here are the 3 fundamental requirements of the technology:
1. Identify who you're talking to across different channels - as that’s the whole point of it all! Whilst there are some quick wins that can be had from simple web-based personalisation based on referrals, device targeting, Geo location and even contextual data like the current weather conditions (for a very small number of companies where this might be useful), full Omni-channel personalisation means knowing who the user is when they’re interacting with your brand through any channel e.g. web, email, SMS, or in store. After all, the customer journey doesn't start and end on the website – if you can’t connect them up then you only get half the story, and you certainly can’t make anywhere near as big an impact.
2. Cross device tracking. Identify the same user across different devices as well as channels - otherwise you'll be counting one customer many times which isn’t good for your business or the customer’s experience. Deduplication is therefore crucial in order to make all of this possible.
3. Then there’s the fun bit, the ability to deliver the actual alternative experiences across all channels and devices. This could mean a hundred and one combinations of things depending on the brand and their particular customers’ needs. Broadly speaking it could mean introducing brand new relevant content or, surfacing or increasing the prominence of existing content depending on its relevance to that user group. Personalisation can also massively increase the effectiveness of existing tools and features such as reviews, surveys and of course promotions and product recommendations.
One of the key things to remember is that the better the technology and the data used to identify the customers accurately across channels and devices, the stronger your personalisation messaging can be - producing potentially higher rewards.
The funny thing is, so many technology companies are calling themselves Omni-Channel or Multi-Channel Personalisation these days and yet they can’t even do the basics like cross-device tracking! How do they expect us UX experts to get stuck into properly optimising those customer journeys for the companies’ key personas if we can’t be sure who we’re talking to – if we’re stuck to merely in-session personalisation? Luckily it doesn’t take much digging to find out their limitations and instead I’d advise you to go with a solution that’s built from the ground up to be a multi/omni-channel personalisation technology. Get this bit right, and everything else becomes possible.