Know Your Customer: Identity-Driven Personalisation

As seen published in Engage CX Marketing.

Personalisation is an increasingly important pillar of effective ecommerce. It is embraced by sectors well beyond its retail roots: in utilities and logistics, financial services and automotive. Customers’ enthusiastic embrace of online, mobile and omni-channel commerce, along with social media, produces great lakes of data. When this personal information is coupled with pattern recognition techniques provided through machine learning, organisations can gain context which can be used to predict future behaviours in their users. Cloud computing and big data solutions have given businesses of all sizes greater processing capability than ever before.

Organisations’ can now develop a strategy of meaningful, identity-driven personalisation that gives users appropriate information at the appropriate time and place. The case for understanding who your customers are through identity is clear: personalisation executed well leads to better customer acquisition and deeper engagement, which in turn lead to more business.

Identity underpins effective personalisation. However, the difficulty is ensuring that a company has a truly complete identity for their users.

the most valuable insight into customers comes when the data is readily visible in one place whenever required, allowing businesses to service customers with products that they want, in the right channel, at the right time

Alan Walsh, CEO, Amido

Many organisations are building this complete identity through the use of social sign-in, adapting solutions that let customers log in and authenticate themselves using social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Not only do these solutions reduce friction and frustration for users but they also provide organisations with a rich source of additional data.

Reducing friction with social sign-in

Social sign-in is increasingly popular with users: 74% of US consumers say they have used social media to connect with sites and apps. They value the ease and convenience of a single sign-in, and users control the personal information to which the organisation has access through the consent screen presented at initial sign-in.

It is increasingly clear that users are making an informed trade-off between potential privacy concerns and the personal value of using the service. This means that for the ease of use that a seamless sign-in allows, users are willing to share more information with the organization, allowing that company to build a fuller profile of each of their users.

A fuller profile

Users of social networks spend a lot of time every day providing personal information to their favourite site: things they like, places they’ve been, videos they’ve watched, friends and connections, and brands they may follow or “like”. This information is both comprehensive and current.

As a result, organisations utilising social sign-in on their sites can have a complete view of a newly acquired customer – with the consequent ability to personalise user experience – from day one. They can see customers’ real-time behaviour, always having the most up to date information on any changes to a returning customer’s personal circumstances.

With 90% of UK social network users having logged onto facebook at least once a month in 2016, being able to draw on a customer’s complete online activity rather than just the last time they cared to update a customer profile, is a powerful asset. However, to fully profit from this, organisations must put serious consideration into which social networks they should support. For those corporations operating at scale it isn’t just Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Depending on the regions they operate in alternative platforms may dominate, such as Russia’s Vkontakte.ru, or China’s Tencent QQ. Businesses with an international customer base need to choose the platforms most valued by their customers.

Beyond social

Identity-driven personalisation does reach beyond social media profiles however. The information available from social sign-in can often be used to connect separate customer accounts within the same organisation, providing the missing details that confirm that different user accounts represent the same individual.

An identity-driven approach helps create context, for example connecting a user account to a location from the IP address of a PC or the GPS signal of a smartphone. With location, comes the ability to add weather or traffic conditions to context.

Any other data that a customer agrees to share can also be added: health and fitness data from a wearable device, home energy usage and domestic routine from home-automation software, or route and driving style from in-car telematics.

An effective identity-driven personalisation programme links all of a customer’s identities; their various social media accounts, the firm’s internal customer records and other contextual data the individual has opted to share.

A carrot for customers

Authentication cannot always be mandatory. Unless a user is attempting to access sensitive information, a balance between user convenience and an organisation’s desire for information must be met. If a customer can’t browse goods without registering, he or she will simply shop elsewhere.

Therefore, organisations must provide a carrot, an incentive to persuade users to provide their personal information voluntarily. This could range from access to promotional offers like ASOS’ A-List, to stored delivery and card information such as Amazon’s 1-click ordering. Whatever the carrot, the key to success for optional registration is to ensure that there is a mutual benefit, communicated effectively.

This is the era of brand disloyalty. The level of investment retailers are putting into personalisation is testament to this. Organisations recognise that to keep consumers interested in their products, it is imperative to provide a personal approach, to make their brand stand out from the crowd. However, to really achieve this simply owning the data isn’t enough. It is only through building a complete identity of your consumer, to understand their likes, dislikes and shopping behaviour, that results in effective personalisation.

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