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Let’s talk about relevance. It’s a word that is cropping up again and again, and for good reason: personally relevant communications provide a better service experience for customers.

The Relevancy Gap

But there is a problem, and it cannot be ignored. Put simply, there is a huge gap between brand and consumer expectations regarding relevance. Recent research shows that brands think consumers find 19% of their messages irrelevant. The same question to consumers found that they think 84% of brand messages are irrelevant to them. In this case, I’m inclined to trust the consumer.

Unfortunately for brands, this really is a cause for concern, as irrelevant messages are mostly ignored. Furthermore, they’re just plain annoying, and annoying is never good. In fact, it can really damage your bottom line: Accenture reports that 61% of instances of consumers switching brands is due to a lack of relevance.

And so it is time for more businesses to wake up and take advantage of the huge opportunity that personally relevant consumer messaging is presenting. If you don’t, you risk losing customers; if you do, you stand to improve key metrics across the board significantly. For instance increasing retention by only 5% can drive profits from anywhere between 25%-95%.

How To Be Personally Relevant

So how do you ensure that your consumers will find your messages personally relevant? Well, unfortunately there is no silver bullet for such a thing. But at Swrve we believe there are four fundamental aspects that can help you be more relevant, which we’ll now dip our toes into, one by one. And yes, I realise we have five toes.

Who To Target: Personal relevance starts with who you target. Sending the same message to your entire database is rarely, if ever, a good idea. But communicating with consumers in a way that feels personally relevant, and actually influences them, is no mean feat. It requires knowledge of your audience beyond the simplistic.

This involves harnessing the huge amount of behavioral data across your systems to build audiences that are so much richer and more meaningful than you’ve ever been able to before. Think carefully about what you want to achieve, and then who you need to communicate with in order to achieve it. This will help you build the logic to micro-target relevant messages to consumers.

When To Initiate An Interaction: Equally important to who is when. If you don’t get the timing right, then you’re not being relevant. The ‘right’ time can take many forms: a message triggered by a consumer’s action (or lack of) within the app, such as an abandoned flight search; or triggered by entering a certain physical location, like a rival supermarket store. Triggers take away the feeling of being randomly targeted or spammed, and consumers are twice as likely to engage as a result.

If the message is targeted, rather than triggered, behavioral data can decide when is the optimal time to deliver a message to individual consumers, with the least likelihood of interrupting them, and the most chance of being relevant. Being relevant is often as simple as catching your customer at a convenient time of day.

What Content Can Make It Personalized: Once you have determined who will receive your message, and when they will receive it, you can concentrate on what aspects of the actual content can be made personalized and relevant. Personalization can also take many forms, from simple user attributes such as a user’s first name, to localizing the message for a user’s default language, and even incorporating contextual data from previous interactions (e.g. Hi Ellen, your usual window seat for your flight to Nashville is available for $19.99).

It’s this level of personalization that really makes a customer feel like they belong to the hallowed segment-of-one. And personalization doesn’t just start and end with text; you can add images, video and audio as well to create richer personalized experiences.

Where The Customer Will Be Most Receptive:The final aspect is where users receive their message, and how receptive they will be to it as a result. And by this we don’t necessarily mean whether consumers are stuck in traffic on Labor Day or at their in-law’s annual barbeque, rather we mean which device and channel will be most effective. Is it best to send an email on their desktop; an in-app message through their OTT provider; a push notification on their mobile phone during their commute home? Behavioral data will figure this out.

This isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ feature. The unstoppable rise of new and emerging channels means you need to expand your reach to suit your consumers device habits. 40% of marketing budgets today are being spent in channels that didn’t even exist less than a decade ago. Knowing which channel you are most likely to be relevant on, as well as at what time, gives a huge relevancy advantage.

Combining the above who, when, what, and where will give your brand the best chance of being relevant and maximizing your reach. It’s worth it: Gartner recently claimed that companies that invest in full personalization and relevance across channels will outsell their competitors by 30%.