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An unseemly tirade for retailers with ambition: Part 3

We’ve been venting a lot lately. Thanks for listening.

We got most of our frustrations out in our recent rant about personalization, but there are some things that we think we should clear up.

Lots of marketers know personalization is something they should be looking into. Most know they should be doing something now. But, for whatever reason, they’re putting it off. Kicking the can.

Maybe because they think it’s “not for me.” Or because they “don’t have the resources.” Another big misconception out there right now: Personalization can never scale.

All of which couldn’t be further from the truth. As we put it in the rant:

It does NOT take years of research and a snafu of systems integrators with a new data warehouse and six coders to link to your ecommerce platform.
You can actually get going in a week or so. And once you’re up to speed, you can deploy new experiences for new segments in minutes. Without bothering the very talented but very overworked IT dudes. This isn’t something we wish to be true. This is something we know to be true.

We know it sounds counterintuitive, but hear us out. Personalization becomes scalable when you think of it as delivering tailored experiences to distinct user segments. The beautiful thing about segments: They’re flexible. Dynamic. Lots of people visit your site, leave, and come back later. Why not test a message or promotion to these return customers? It’s all about acting on the data you already have. (And trust us: You have a lot of it. Even if you think it isn’t yet actionable.)

Say you buy a new winter coat from a fashionable retailer. It arrives on time, it’s the right size, you love the color, and it keeps you warm all winter long. Spring rolls around, and an email shows up in your inbox promoting what? A new line of bright summer-ready shirts, none of which are available in your size.

We both know you have the data, dear retailer, so why aren’t you being smart about it? It may sound like a small detail, but we think it’s a big deal. And we’re not alone. Take this quotation from the new book, Becoming Steve Jobs:

As a great marketer, Steve understood that every interaction a customer had with Apple could increase or decrease his or her respect for the company. As he put it, a corporation “could accumulate or withdraw credits” from its reputation, which is why he worked to ensure that every single interaction a customer might have with Apple—from using a Mac to calling customer support to buying a single from the iTunes Store and then getting billed for it—was excellent.

Vindicated by the immortal Steve Jobs himself. Can’t do much better than that.

Check out the rant to learn more about our frustrations and our take on the myths that may be holding you back.

That concludes our 3-part blog post series on personalization in retail. (See also: Parts one and two.)