Skip to content
Commerce & engagement

Connecting the dots to start building personalized customer experiences


The power of personalized customer experiences goes beyond catchy campaigns – it directly impacts the bottom line, even according to studies (McKinsey, Nobile, T.H. & Cantoni, L. 2023). So, understanding the business perspectives of personalized strategies is no longer a luxury but a strategic necessity. 

Building the relationship and getting to know your customers pays off in the form of a more loyal customer base, increased and extended customer lifetime value, and a valuable competitive advantage. The way I see it, personalization can deliver value in two ways: by either improving customer experience or by creating direct opportunities to sell more. Of course, the best outcome is when both of these apply at the same time. You can think of these aspects as you plan and assess different tactics you would like to use or even have in place already. 

But how do you get started? What is essential and needed to start delivering value to customers and to your business, and on the other hand, where should you set the goal for the future? 


Finding the balance between effort and impact

Personalization can take as many forms and tactics as there are organizations out there, and as cliché as it is, there’s really no right or wrong way to do it. 

Personalization can happen based on:

  • Rules or triggers, for example certain events on the customer journey or birthday
  • Context, for example location or pages browsed
  • Predictions, for example by offering add-ons or services based on a past purchase

All of these different types of personalization can be applied to many different channels, so start by mapping what channels and technologies you have and where your customers would most benefit from personalized messaging. For most cases, email or a web shop is a good place to start! 

It all boils down to the fact that whoever your customers are, whether you're in B2B or in B2C business, you need to make the customer feel like you want to invest in the relationship with them – that they mean something to you beyond the transaction they make.

The hard job is to find the right balance between the effort you put in and the expected outcome, especially in the beginning when you’re just getting started. There are so many tactics, tools, and tips out there, that you can get easily frustrated. 

The good news is, it’s actually quite straightforward to get started with personalization, as long as you have a clear goal in mind and get to know:

  • your customers and their journey
  • the available data
  • the technical capabilities and possibilities you have

By combining and looking into these aspects unique to your business, you can look for opportunities for personalization and also find the low-hanging fruit. It sounds difficult (and it is) but start simple, and always bear your goals in mind when prioritizing the efforts.

Getting to know your customers is about getting into their shoes

When leveraging personalization strategies for customer interactions, organizations can offer just the right products or services to the right customers at the right time, and when it matters most to the customer. That said, successful personalization is highly linked to knowing the customer’s journey and the expectations, needs, motivations, and pain points behind it. 

Getting to know your customers is a never-ending job. You need both deep understanding and data – only one of these isn’t enough for effective and profitable personalization in the long run. So, jump into your customer's shoes. Interview them, ask them questions, listen to their experiences, frustrations, and wishes, and try to see where you can bring them more ease or take out blockers in their buying experience. 

Where’s the room for delighting or making things easier for them? 

When you start to come up with a list of different customer needs and wishes, prioritize them through different business lenses. Don’t try to please everyone at once, choose the most critical and valuable ones business-wise, and start with those. Prioritizing can be done for example based on the customer segment or business targets, depending on your goals and resources available. 

Also, you might need to prioritize whether you would like to start with tactics that can be used for all of your customers (such as product recommendations based on a recent purchase) or a bit more specialized tactics, for example for your most frequent buyers in a specific location.

Data adds the flesh to the bones

In addition to a deep understanding of your customers’ motivations and needs, you need to take a look at what data can bring to the table. Data adds the flesh to the customer insight bones.

Data can be scattered in as many platforms, systems, and spreadsheets as you can imagine, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Remember, you don’t need all of the data, just the right set for delivering a better experience. Filter the most important data points you need to deepen the relationship and make those purchases easier. 

Do your customers wish to see a personalized product catalog based on their location? Then, you need to know their location or their favorite store. Or do they want you to suggest products and services based on their past purchases? Then, you need more transactional data and insights derived from similarities between those transactions. 

Ensure you have a clear understanding of the data available to you. Don’t overestimate the quality or quantity of the data – focus on the data points you truly have access to and that you can leverage somewhat easily. 

Also, try to see whether there’s some data missing. Is there something you don’t know or have, that could bring a huge leap in customer experience? Be reasonable – you probably don’t need months and months of integration work just to add a single line to an email.

In addition, data privacy regulations and GDPR in Europe are important aspects when it comes to data usage and storage. You cannot store and use data you don’t need or at least you have to communicate it well. Customers these days are very educated and want simple and transparent data handling. The most crucial thing is to be as open and transparent as possible to your customers on how you use their data – this will create trust and profit in the long run.

Technology brings personalization to life in different channels

The touchpoints where you want the personalization efforts to come to life can mean:

  • Webshop
  • Website
  • Email
  • Social media
  • SMS
  • Customer portal
  • Physical stores

You also probably have different types of platforms, tools, systems, and technology in place to handle these channels. Do these technologies already have the capabilities to perform personalization? Or would you need a separate platform to do it? 

There are hundreds of tools and platforms available on the market to fit different kinds of personalization needs. Don’t jump right into buying some software. When you have an initial strategy and a plan in place on what you would like to do and in what channels, take a look at the tools that fit your needs. 

Of course, if you have some tools already in place that could perform most of the use cases you have, then probably you should stick with those. But in many cases, there might be room for re-evaluating the tech stack through the eyes of personalization, at least when things get rolling and the use cases start to become more complicated. 

These days AI and machine learning are also an important part of effective personalization strategies and are most often integrated into different tools. AI technologies can, for example, analyze customer data to provide more accurate and timely recommendations. Additionally, AI-driven personalization can scale and adapt to changing customer preferences even faster and make things more resource-friendly. If you would like AI to help you with personalizing customer experience even further, you might want to take a look at different options out there to make sure you have the most suitable tools in place.