Last updated on March 12th, 2021 at 04:22 pm


Developing a close relationship with customer and clients is a sure-fire way to win big in the world of business.

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03-12-2021
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The way businesses interact with consumers has undergone several shifts over the last couple of decades. Relationships between consumers and companies have been altered by the technological developments in our society, and expectations of service levels have evolved. As such, there is a greater emphasis on making meaningful connections with customers. 

One of the ways that your company can do this today is through greater personalization of your marketing methods. The continued rise of affordable, accessible artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has meant that it is increasingly practical for businesses of all sizes to engage in strategies that include some level of personalization for consumers.

For smaller businesses, it can be difficult to see how to adopt this approach in a way that makes sense for your operations. So, we’re going to take a closer look at the aspects that can help you effectively explore the strategies, protocols, and technology involved.

Understand the Technology

Perhaps one of the main steps toward utilizing personalization in your processes is actually reviewing the hardware and software involved.

Some key areas include:

The Internet of Things (IoT)

This refers to the ecosystem devices that can be automatically connected to create a network of smart objects in homes and companies. It also happens to be one of the technological advances that is currently disrupting the business landscape, with a significant number of executives exploring its growing business potential. As sensors on objects — especially in wearables such as smartwatches, and smart home devices — collect and share data on consumer behavior. When coupled with online apps, businesses can use this behavioral data to provide more personalized services.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Machine learning has become a more accessible and accurate technology of the last several years. As such, there has been an emergence of AI software platforms that collect information on a customer’s behavior on a company’s website — types of product browsed, frequency of visits, and geographical location among many others — and perform data analytics, comparing this information to the trends in the industry, and the specifics of your business model. The AI software can then make predictions about customer needs and wants in the near future, allowing your company to provide them with personalized deals and product selections that are most relevant to them. 

Take Inspiration from Others

One of the reasons that personalization can be so effective for large brands is that customers generally haven’t expected it. There is a positive spontaneity about surprising consumers with acts of generosity such as discounts and coupons that are matched to their needs and interests. Indeed, simply reaching out and making efforts to engage meaningfully on a personal level with customers still strikes many as pleasant but unusual. In either case, this helps to build deeper connections. Large companies have been exploring different ways to approach this in recent years, and small business owners should take inspiration from their efforts.

Some stand out examples include:

Sephora

The beauty brand has gained a reputation for having a customer care focus — and this is greatly enhanced by their approach to personalization. One of their most successful examples of this was their augmented reality (AR) mirror. This provided in-store kiosks that allowed customers to take live videos of themselves and augment a variety of beauty products onto the 3D image on the screen.

This helped customers form personal connections with the products, and gain the brand a reputation for cutting edge convenience. That doesn’t mean to say that your small business needs to invest in expensive tech, but it does show the value of using more affordable platforms such as apps and email marketing to help the customers understand how products fit into their personal lives. 

Best Buy

You would expect an electronics brand to primarily focus on online personalization. However, Best Buy has benefited from providing the unexpected — by integrating their internet and in-store experiences. Their app allows customers to browse and reserve the items they want, then it has a “Ready When You Are” feature that informs the store customers are on their way so that staff is immediately available to meet them upon arrival. They also capitalize on the fatigue for online tech support by providing more personalized in-home services that demonstrate they go the extra mile for consumers.

Again, not every small business can provide this level of personalization. However, it helps to show that in an increasingly technological world, a focus on consumers’ in-person needs is important.

Scale to Small Business

Using personalization techniques as a small business owner requires insight into how these apply to the size and shape of your company. However, not everybody is fully versed on how to use the current digital marketing techniques, and there’s no shame in that. You can put yourself into a better position by seeking out classes — whether online or in-person — that can help you to understand how to apply these techniques to small business environments. These will usually cover the theories behind the tools, as well as practical introductions to the platforms you’ll use, such as Google Analytics and HyperText Markup Language (HTML). 

While the idea of personalization might seem like a big concept, you will tend to benefit most by applying techniques to what makes small businesses attractive in the first place. You are different from the faceless big box brands. If you have a physical store, you can concentrate on a core group of local consumers. Reach out and find out what they care about. Use targeted email campaigns to provide marketing content that shows your connection to the community and offers that serve local needs. Certainly using data analytics can enhance these efforts, and make your operations more efficient. However, using this tech should always be focused on building on the unique aspects of your business your customers connect with.

Conclusion

Personalization is one of the cornerstones of marketing in the current climate. It’s important to gain insights into the key tools and how they function and look to how big brands are currently using them to make gains. However, as a small business owner, you can best make an impact by educating yourself on the use of these techniques, and improve your relationships with your community of consumers by building them into your localized processes.

Journalist

Indiana Lee is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest with a passion for covering workplace issues, social justice, environmental protection, and more. In her off time you can find her in the mountains with her two dogs. You can follow her work on Contently, or reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @indianalee3

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