When I was a teenager, the kids all hung out at the mall every Saturday. Today, the kids hang out on their phones. How has the shift away from big box stores and one-size-fits all mentality changed the retail landscape? For one thing, instead of heading to the mall for a shopping spree, customers are heading to their laptops. Online shopping is rapidly growing while traditional retail is waning. Besides convenience, one of the biggest reasons for the growth in e-commerce is the ability for customers to get niche products or have products personalized. Although the advent of assembly lines and factories produced cheaper, generic products for the masses that made retail boom, today’s consumer is demanding a return to a more personal experience.
So if you’re still treating your customers or clients as one body, then you’re missing out on an important opportunity to increase profits and retention.
Below are three easy ways to increase the personalization that customers feel from your business.
Growing up, my mom had a set of bath towels that she only put out when she was hosting guests. I loved these towels. They were fancy, fluffy, white towels with our last initial (a large, gold ‘W’) monogrammed on them. What made these towels so singular? Part of it was that they were only used on special occasions of course, but part of it was the personalization of our initial sewn onto them.
In 2013, Bain and Company conducted a survey of more than 1,000 online shoppers and found that the ability to personalize products had big results for sellers. Shoppers who have been able to purchase personalized goods visit those websites 67% more frequently and linger there 15% longer. And more importantly, they make purchases there 22% more often.
If you’ve ever wondered how you could increase traffic and sales to your website, consider allowing your customers to personalize the products they purchase through you. And no—that doesn’t just mean monogramming everything—although that may be appropriate for some products. Think much larger than bath towels and you may come up with some pretty creative ways to let your customers feel like they are part of the production process.
Personalizing Products could include any of the following:
- Engraving, screenprinting, and embroidery- Let your customers choose what they want to have written on any number of products, like jewelry displaying initials to t-shirts with customer designed graphics.
- Color selection- Something as simple as having more than one color to choose from can increase sales and make the purchase more personal.
- Custom colors- This goes a step beyond offering consumers a color choice and lets them tell you what color they would like the product.
- Giftwrap- Especially during the holidays, offer gift wrapping options. Add your company’s name or logo to the tissue paper or gift wrap to increase brand awareness.
- Creative packaging- Nobody said that packaging has to be a boring brown box. Create an experience for the consumer when they open your delivery. Think of packaging that could be reused or home the product in the future.
- Stickers and decals- Personalization doesn’t have to be permanent. Stickers and decals can give something temporary and fun but be changed or removed in the future. This can be especially relevant if the product has a high resell value and the consumer will want to remove the personalization.
- Crowdsourced input- This can be a fun way to generate buzz around your brand or product. Think of food production companies that let consumers vote on new flavors—Lays Chips and Quaker Oatmeal have both done this recently.
Not sure if the extra effort involved will be worth it to your company? The survey by Bain and Company also found that customers spent 28% more on average for the privilege of having customizable goods. Find the right ROI for your company. If you can personalize a product for a 10% increase in production price and then sell that product for 20% more, you will be increasing your profits in addition to the other perks of increased traffic and time on your website.
Personalize the Experience
The first step is to personalize the emails your company is sending out. Segment your list according to criteria that are relevant to your business. Some ideas for segmenting are location, age, gender, interests, profession, and the amount of money they have spent with you. For customers that spend large amounts with you frequently, consider creating a VIP list—after all, these are the customers that are most worth retaining.
Even if you have one generic email that you will be distributing, consider the timing of it. Will your customers be more likely to open an email sent at 9:00 a.m. or 9:00 p.m.? If you are B2B, the prime time for an email might be right after lunch. Regardless of the most effective time, your email list should be segmented at least by location, so that the email that you intend to arrive at 9:00 a.m., does so whether your customer lives next door or in another country. Automated email systems can simplify this process for you.
What if you don’t have data about the customers on your list? It’s never too late to start. You can include a simple survey with your next email that invites participation in exchange for a more personalized experience with your company. Make sure to also ask the right questions on your email sign up form and include information boxes that will be relevant to your business.
Put a Face on It
The last suggestion is the simplest and all businesses should be able to implement it: put a face on all interactions that your company has with customers. This is a literal suggestion as well as figurative. If you are using social media for your marketing, consider that HubSpot.com reports Instagram photos including faces receive 38% more likes than photos without faces. Integrate this knowledge into all of your social media marketing, as well websites and emails.
People want to see a face in order to feel like they are doing business with a real person—a fact that is even more important to keep in mind if your business is purely internet based. You may never meet your customers face to face, but they should still feel that there is a real person behind the company. Consider adding pictures of the founder, customer service reps, or other relevant employees to your website. Tell their back story.
When you send out an email, let the receiver know that it is from John Doe, founder/CEO/president/etc. rather than from the company in general. Customers will respond better to a person than a faceless company.
Personalization can do so much for your company. Let your creative juices flow and find a way to make your customers’ experiences more personal.