GDPR helps increase transparency and trust. Here’s what you need to know to stay compliant

For online marketers, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been creating quite a stir.

This new EU law, which will go into effect on May 25, 2018, is designed to give individuals more control over their personal data.

It affects how companies gather and utilize information from their website visitors, prospects, and customers.

In short, marketers aren’t allowed to collect, store, or use the personal data of any European Union (EU) citizen without an explicit consent.

The key areas covered by GDPR include breach notifications, right to access, right to be forgotten, data portability, privacy by design, and the appointment of a data protection officer.

GDPR In the age of personalization

What does GDPR mean for marketers who use a data-driven approach and personalization technologies in their marketing strategies?

Here are a few critical GDPR concepts you need to know when collecting information and obtaining consent:

Legitimate interest

You don’t need permission to obtain or use personal data when there’s legitimate interest behind the request for the information. For example:

  • When a visitor comes to your website and you need to present personalized offers so that you can market to them efficiently.
  • When a shopper is making a purchase and is expected to provide relevant information to complete the transaction.

Permission required for everything else

You can only collect data without explicit consent for the “main action” that visitors are expected to accomplish by providing their information. For anything else, you need permission.

For example, when a customer makes a purchase on your website, you don’t need consent to get the information required to complete the transaction. However, you do need permission if you want to add them to your email list or obtain additional information to personalize marketing messages in the future.

Individual rights

GDPR covers several individual rights, including the right to access, the right to object, and the right to erase.

Under the right to object, individuals can request a company to permanently stop all permission-based marketing and personalized communications. Under the right to erase, individuals can ask to have all their data deleted and be treated as a new user whenever they visit your site. This implies, that on their next visit, they will not see any personalized content.

Make GDPR work for you

GDPR helps increase transparency, which will ultimately help you cultivate more trust with consumers.

Most consumers appreciate personalized content and they’re willing to provide their information to the business that they trust.

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Becoming GDPR-compliant offers an opportunity to clean up your database and obtain the necessary re-permissions.

The process will help you better utilize the existing GDPR-compliant information to segment your audience, create highly targeted groups, and distribute personalized content.

Your liability increases as you collect more data. You should get clear on your personalization strategy and only ask for data that is necessary for effectively communicating with your customers and serving them better.

In addition, ensure that you’re storing the data in a secured centralized customer database so that you can manage the safety of your customer data while leveraging them effectively for your marketing initiatives.

Making purchasing decisions for a store or retail business is a complicated proposition. The decision-making becomes especially complex when you are trying to determine which products deserve permanent shelf space on your store floor; and which need to be discounted or sent back to the warehouse to make room for new inventory. It can also be difficult to know the answer to sourcing questions such as when to respond to trends, how much to purchase of a specific item and what price-points to sell at for maximum profitability. As a result, an increasing number of retailers are relying on predictive analytics to make more informed purchasing decisions. In fact, according to Martech Advisor, 57 percent of B2B marketers said predictive analytics was their “primary tool” for 2017.

Consider the following to learn more about how predictive analytics are helping companies to maximize sales and to make the most of their inventory budgets.

Determine Top-Performing Categories

Before a retailer can begin using predictive analytics to make better purchasing decisions, they have to determine the top-performing categories in their existing inventory. These can be found by collecting data on factors such including: sales numbers their POS system, consumer engagement with product images in specific categories and high-traffic areas on the company’s website. From here, a retailer can determine which categories are the most profitable, as well as what categories could be expanded to increase future sales.

Forecast Future Seasonal Inventory

Once a retailer knows where to expand their existing inventory, it is time to measure seasonal sales from past years against current industry trends to forecast seasonal sales. This helps determine how large of an order to place for a specific item, as well as where to take a well-calculated risk with a new trend or category. Targeted purchasing recommendations can be derived from this information, so retailers can order only what they need, when they need it – thus boosting seasonal sales and reducing the risk of end-of-the-season discounting.

 Adjust Strategy Where Necessary  

The capabilities of predictive analytics don’t stop once a retailer rolls out their new inventory. Analytics-based software monitors and reports on sales performance, so retailers can keep track of which seasonal inventory categories are the most successful and make modifications to their orders whenever necessary. This means that only the best-selling merchandise gets a place on the show floor. Since NectarOM uses the “Test and Learn” method, we are able to quickly respond to sales activity, so that clients can adapt their purchasing strategy in order to augment ROI.

Keeping Abreast of Trends 

It is essential for retailers to utilize predictive analytics when making seasonal purchasing decisions to remain competitive. In fact, Martech Advisor reports that 82 percent of B2B companies used predictive analytics in last year – and of the companies who did not, 67 percent intend to implement predictive analytics in 2018. It is not only important for retailers to have access to the consumer data, but also to have data-based forecasting software which enables them to quickly respond to industry trends and customer behavior. At NectarOM, we provide clients with software with real-time reporting capabilities that clearly outline actionable recommendations – so they can amplify seasonal sales and adjust to changing consumer preferences.

There are plenty of buzz-words going around in tech right now, but the term that has the most practical implications for retailers in Spring 2018 is something much simpler than “voice search” or “virtual reality.” It is the ability to respond to data in real-time that’s more important to the marketing success of a company than any other sweeping technology trend being sold to retailers right now. For companies to have a high success rate with their marketing methods, they need the capability to quickly respond to industry trends and shifts in consumer sentiment. This allows businesses to send consumers marketing communications which can be quickly refined based on which social media platforms, preferred advertising channels and promotional messages appeal to that particular customer at a given moment.

Knowing When to Send a Message

The biggest factor in a company’s success with their personalization initiatives, then, is time. Consider this: AdAge reports that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience. It’s true that this refers to analytics compiled from long-term customer relationships that help brands know what marketing message to send to customers; but also – and perhaps more importantly – this refers to the analytics which help companies determine the best day and time to send marketing messages to a specific customer in order to incentivize them to make a purchase.

To better understand why you need to be able to send the right customer the right message at the right time, think about it like this: How much more likely are you to read, consider, or act on advertising messages from your favorite brands on payday, when all of your expendable income is just sitting there in the bank? Well… most customers are no different, which why this is just one example of how timing truly is everything when it comes to sending marketing messages with measurable ROI.

Following Up in the Right Way

Want to know how not to personalize your marketing efforts? Don’t send customers advertisements or promotions for an item they just bought. This happens in retail way more often than it should, and it stems from a company’s failure to fully integrate their back-of-house technologies to provide real-time data sharing across systems. When technologies aren’t fully integrated it results in an inability for a retailer’s POS system to communicate relevant information, such as the price point and SKU of purchased products, to their CRM system.

When there is this type of a disparity in information sharing between systems, there is nothing preventing a company’s software from making common marketing mistakes that can make customers feel undervalued, such as sending an email saying, “We haven’t seen you in a while,” when that customer just made an online purchase that day, or bombarding a customer’s iPhone with product images of an item they just bought.

An Opportunity for Fast-Action

A recent study by Accenture and Forrester found that customers are underwhelmed by the digital experiences being delivered by most brands. In fact, only 7 percent of existing brands are actually exceeding customer expectations. This means that the bar is still very low for omnichannel experiences, and that companies can set themselves apart by giving customers a targeted, synchronized experience along their path-to-purchase.

As the global conversation about technology continues, an increasing number of company leaders are getting distracted by advancements in arenas such as virtual reality and in-store robots. As a result, there is more opportunity than ever for business-owners to differentiate themselves by refining their customer experience and exceeding customer expectations with real-time personalization and targeted omnichannel marketing initiatives. NectarOM makes it easy for businesses to fully integrate their back-of-house processes, so they can accurately and skillfully respond to customer behavior in real time.

Increase customer satisfaction and conversion with conversational marketing

Live chat and messaging apps have become an integral part of any omni-channel customer service strategy.

Customers value the ability to get answers when and where they want and companies are improving customer satisfaction and conversion rate thanks to the capability of providing real-time responses.

One study found that 38% of customers said they have made a purchase due to a good live chat session. Live chat assistance has also been noted for helping to decrease cart abandonment by up to 30%, which in turn lead to an increase in sales.

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The key to getting the most out of live chat or messaging apps is to deliver a personalized experience tailored to each customer with conversational selling.

One-to-one conversations: the most effective way to convert

Remember the good ol’ days, before lead generation forms and email marketing, when people made sales solely by talking to other people!

With the help of advanced marketing technologies, it’s now possible to have one-on-one conversations with a large number of prospects and customers simultaneously and deliver a highly personalized experience in a way that’s most convenient.

This is often called “conversational marketing” – a process of having real-time, one-on-one conversations to capture, qualify, and connect with your best leads anytime and anywhere.

How to optimize conversational marketing

At the heart of conversational selling is a customer-driven approach that focuses on one-on-one interactions.

With the aid of technology, marketers can scale up these personalized interactions such that one employee can manage multiple, concurrent one-to-one conversations.

Here are some characteristics of conversational marketing to leverage:

Real-time interactions and fast responses

Conversational marketing is effective because customers can get the assistance they need right away.

With the combination of chatbot and live agents, you can effectively provide customers with the most relevant information as quickly as possible.

Chatbots can be programmed to respond to specific questions while triaging more complex requests so that a live agent can step in to assist promptly.

Customer-centric engagements

You don’t convert customers only by collecting leads. You make sales when you engage prospects in a dialog to understand what they need and offer a solution.

Conversational selling is effective because it focuses on having a two-way conversation so that you can deliver the most relevant information or solution based on the context of the interactions.

Personalized conversations

These one-to-one conversations are contextual and informed by a customer’s past interactions with your brand.

Even if you’re talking to a lead for the first time, you can add a personal touch by getting insights from their browsing history, the page on which they’re initiating the contact, or their locations based on IP addresses.

Customer insights

You can glean customer insights and collect additional information to enrich existing customer profiles through conversational marketing.

For example, when you ask a customer if he wants to be notified when there’s news about a certain product category, you get information on the kind of items they’re interested in to inform your segmentation and marketing efforts.

The information gathered through these conversations can help you get a more in-depth understanding of your customers so that you can fine-tune your sales and marketing strategies.

The key to seamless customer experience

Conversational marketing helps deliver seamless customer experience and facilitates prospects’ progression down the purchasing path.

A 360-degree customer profile is the key to success for this marketing strategy.

This single customer view allows your team to deliver an outstanding purchasing experience based on all the interactions a customer has had with your brand so you can maximize the use of technologies such as chat and messaging apps to optimize your ROI.

It’s a new year of retail technology and advancements in artificial intelligence are shaping customer expectations for personalization. In fact, 10 percent of purchasing decisions will be guided by intelligence agents this year, according to Forrester – making 2018 the first year that AI will have a measurable impact on consumer purchasing decisions. This is only the beginning of significant advancements in the field of personalization, as the fiscal impact of targeted suggestions from intelligent algorithms is only projected to grow.

Leaders Share Personalization Strategies

Personalization was the hot topic at the NRF Big Show this year and well-known retail leaders from such companies as Macy’s, The Children’s Place and the Neiman Marcus Group addressed how their companies plan to use personalization to differentiate themselves from the competition. As Karen Katz, President and CEO of the Neiman Marcus Group, told Forbes, “Great customer experience in 2018 will come from blending technology with a more personalized touch… people that can combine technology-powered personalization with a human will be the winners.”

Speaking the Language of Conversational Interface

Artificial intelligence-powered conversational platforms are becoming the preferred method for customers to interface with retail companies. Gartner predicts that by 2021, over 50 percent of companies will spend more per year on chatbots than they do on mobile app development. AI-powered chatbots and voice activated search platforms such as Amazon and Alexa enable retailers to offer targeted product suggestions and to resolve basic customer service issues. When AI-powered chatbots are used to facilitate a customer’s product search, they can take the customer through every phase of their purchasing process – from their first visit to a brand’s website to choosing the correct payment method for their final purchase. Customer service bots can be used to quickly to customer queries and direct shoppers to the appropriate branch of the company to handle their request.

Learning to Utilize Intelligent Algorithms  

Although most retailers know it’s necessary to implement niche technological developments such as chatbots and personalization platforms in order to compete, Forrester reports that 67 percent of retailers are still not prepared to leverage intelligent agents within their companies. This means that only 33 percent of retailers surveyed by Forrester understand the power of AI to disrupt the retail industry. However, disruption is inevitable. In 2018, it is advisable for retailers with stores of various sizes – across many different verticals – to implement intelligent personalization strategies across every branch of their retail store operations. Even the most advanced AI platforms depend on whittling customer data down to individual profiles to build loyalty strategies with authentic, applicable personalization. Yet the most effective personalization strategies take things yet a step further to suggest relevant marketing methods and formulate plans-of-action based on each customer’s unique search history, as well as their phase in the consumer lifecycle.

Integrating Marketing Touchpoints

The biggest mistake retailers make when implementing a burgeoning personalization strategy for their customer base is failing to update customer information each time a relevant transaction or communication takes place. When organizations fail to connect the dots across platforms, they cannot syndicate recommendations or register customer interactions, which often results in sending out duplicate communications or failing to follow-up with consumers. At NectarOM, we work to bridge the gap between various branches of our clients’ companies to create a unified, cohesive brand presence and customer outreach strategy across platforms. Don’t be one of the 67 percent of retailers that Forrester predicts will fall behind in the New Year – instead, partner with a solution provider with access to an intelligent, AI-fueled  personalization algorithm that produces measurable results.

NectarOm featured in the “Vendor Landscape: Personalization Solution Providers, Q3 2017” report.

Forrester recently issued a report titled “Vendor Landscape: Personalization Solution Providers, Q3 2017” and here at NectarOM, we’re very excited to be highlighted as one of the featured vendors for the financial services, insurance, retail, telecommunications, travel, and hospitality verticals.

Forrester is a leading research and consulting firm that works with business and technology leaders to develop customer-centric strategies that drive growth.

This report predicts that marketing personalization is going to drive customer engagement and growth for both B2B and B2C businesses in 2018 and beyond.

What does it mean for you as a marketer and what do you need to know to stay ahead?

Redefining “Personalization” for today’s marketers

“Personalization” has become quite a buzzword in the online marketing world. From eCommerce recommendations to email marketing automation and remarketing ads on social media, targeted content is everywhere.

Personalization has gone way beyond “hi [ fNAME ]” or even simple segmentation and general personas to a carefully designed experience that reflects the needs, preferences, and buying triggers of each individual customer.

There are some very good reasons to hop on to the personalization bandwagon and become a customer insights-driven organization:

According to the Forrester report, significant investments are being made by digital marketing professionals in personalization, with 89% saying that personalizing the customer experience has been a priority for the last 12 months. After all, 78% of US adults have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that offers a personalized online experience or service.

Too often marketers get caught up in existing data and business needs, forgetting that at the end of the day, they’d likely meet their other business objectives if they focus on serving their customers well.

Consumers now expect a personalized experience when interacting with brands. To successfully execute a personalization strategy, you need to put the customer experience first and consider what’s relevant for the individual at a specific moment.

As personalization technologies are becoming more sophisticated with the aid of machine learning and predictive analytics, brands have to select the right technologies so they can deliver an on-brand customer experience, meet customer expectations, and stay ahead of the curve.

Criteria for selecting a personalization technology

The market for personalization technology is a mix of large, established players, emerging challengers, and niche solution providers. The best solution to your marketing needs depends on a variety of factors.

When selecting a technology solution, the Forrester report recommends the following:

  • The ability to support real-time personalization and a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints. When customers interact with your brand on one channel, their centralized profiles are updated real-time so that the information is reflected in subsequent interactions, even if they switch channels mid-stream.
  • Features and functionalities that bring together insights, automation, and engagement to deliver personalization. While customer-facing engagement metrics are the obvious measurement of success, insights and automation are the determining factors when it comes to managing and executing long-term, sustainable, and scalable personalization strategies.
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  • Automation and next-generation analytics that’ll help you generate value and insights from the large amount of customer data you now have access to. Your technology solution should provide the automation and advanced analytics, including predictive, prescriptive, and machine learning, so that you can align content within the context of each touchpoint in the customer’s journey.

Companies that are able to select and implement the right mix of general experience management and niche personalization solutions to deliver a highly-personalized customer experience will win the marketing game in 2018 and beyond.

Customer data is driving the next generation of omnichannel marketing strategies. What you can do to stay ahead of your competition.

Every time you interact with your customers, you have the opportunity to aggregate invaluable information. That data can inform your marketing strategies if you leverage it and turn it into actionable insights.

McKinsey predicts that data-activated marketing can boost total sales by 15 to 20 percent (and even more for digital sales) while significantly improving the ROI on marketing budget across all channels.

These strategies are based on a customer’s real-time needs, interests, and behaviors.

We’re not talking about the same old “Hi [ FIRST NAME ]” kind of personalization.

The way companies used to segment their audience is too isolated and simplistic, failing to take into account the complex manner in which consumers interact with brands across all channels, and at various stages of their customer journeys.   

With the information available to today’s businesses, it’s not the lack of data that plagues marketers.

Instead, they have access to more data than they know how to utilize effectively.

Thankfully, new technologies are emerging to help brands leverage the vast amount of customer data to deliver personalized messages across all customer touch points, creating an exceptional customer experience.

Personalized Marketing Campaigns

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Here’s how you can activate customer data by implementing personalized marketing campaigns across all channels:

1. Create Single Customer View

A 360-degree customer profile is the foundation of any successful omnichannel personalized marketing campaign.

By using an omnichannel marketing software, you can consolidate all customer data and collect signals from ongoing interactions to aid in the creation of targeted messages and offers.

2. Make Decisions Based On Signals

When customers interact with your brand at different touch points, they leave behind “signals” that can inform your next personalized marketing message.

These “signals” could be cart abandonment, Facebook “check in” at a store, entering an area within your “geo fence,” or returning to your website shortly after a purchase.

3. Deliver Real-Time Personalized Experiences and Offers

By combining signals from a customer’s real-time interaction with your brand and the customer’s history, habits, and preferences, you can deliver the most relevant content or offer in the right place at the right time.

Utilize a centralized platform to implement your personalized marketing campaign so you can deliver consistent messaging across all channels.

This will ensure that all content is working synergistically to move your customers seamlessly along the buyer’s journey.

4. Send Personalized Email

Consumers are fed up with getting one-size-fits-all content and promotions that have nothing to do with their interests, preferences, or habits.

Email is one of the best ways to tailor unique messages. Having them sent at the appropriate frequency positions your brand as relevant and valuable.

It’s an easy way to reach mobile users, a transactional medium perfect for coupons, and allows you to track metrics to understand what works so you can refine your campaigns.

5. Offer Individualized Content On Website

When your customers log onto your website, you can leverage their behavioral data (such as browsing history and interactions with your brand) to deliver relevant and valuable content such as useful articles, localized information, product recommendations or special offers.

Personalized Marketing Campaigns

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Your customer data is a treasure trove of information and it’s the next frontier in personalized marketing.

With the help of today’s technology, you can now tap into that knowledge to help maximize engagement and increase ROI.

Explore our library of resource to see how you can get more leads and generate more sales with omnichannel marketing.