Personalisation is more important than ever
Together with customer data and experience platform Lexer, we uncover the top data collection, segmentation, and messaging strategies brands are using to increase engagement and revenue.
To capture share of wallet in a downturn economy, marketers need to deliver value to customers whose expectations are quickly evolving. Brands need to understand their customer's path to purchase, and deliver a hyper-relevant experience that increases engagement and loyalty.
This is especially important for a channel as intimate as SMS, where a one-size-fits all approach is no longer efficient, and zero and first-party data, along with smart segmentation, are enabling marketers to significantly increase ROI.
Personalisation starts with customer data
When it comes to personalisation, the more data you have, the better. Let's explore the four main types of data you should be collecting to create truly personalised and relevant experiences for your customers.
Types of data
- Identity data includes information about who a customer is, such as their name, demographics, location, and contact information.
- Behavioural data is information about how customers interact with your brand, including their browsing habits, purchase history, and engagement (i.e., clicking and opening emails or texts). It also includes transactional details like order frequency and average order value (AOV).
- Qualitative data is often used to understand customer attitudes, motivations, and preferences. It can include insights such as a what a person is interested in buying, how often they want to get marketing messages from a brand, or even their favourite colour.
- Descriptive data is contextual information that gives you a clearer picture of who a customer is beyond their core identity markers. It can range from more specific details, like a person’s marital status or profession, to high-level details, like their geographic location.
How to collect data
There are a few different methods you can use to collect customer data. We’re going to focus on zero-party, first-party, and third-party data collection—and how they all come together.
Zero-party data collection involves asking customers about their needs and preferences directly—through quizzes, surveys, forms, two-way text messaging conversations, and more. In other words, it’s when consumers voluntarily share personal information with your brand.
SMS has emerged as a particularly effective channel for collecting this kind of data because it’s a direct line to your customers. You can ask them questions at any point in their customer journey, depending on what you want to know.
For example, with preference collection forms, you can gather insights from new subscribers as part of the opt-in experience, such as their gender, content interests, or shopping preferences. It’s as simple as prompting them to check a box directly on your email and SMS sign-up unit.
Another option is to use tools like Attentive’s Two-Way Journeys™ to ask subscribers specific questions about what they’re interested in, or send them product-finder quizzes and post-purchase surveys. You can save their replies as custom attributes and use the insights to send them relevant links and content.
Keep in mind consumers are more likely to share their preferences if they believe they'll get something of value in return. That "return" could be a discount or exclusive offer that they get in exchange for opting into SMS. Or, it could be a personalised recommendation that they get after taking a quiz or responding to a two-way text message.
First-party data is information you collect through your brand’s owned channels, like your website and your email, SMS, and loyalty programs. Compared to zero-party data collection, which is active, first-party data collection is passive.
When a consumer takes an action (e.g., views a product on your website), you learn something about them, such as what kind of products they’re interested in buying. Their behaviours allow you to infer their needs and preferences—when they make a purchase, add to cart, redeem a coupon code, leave a review, earn loyalty points, and more.
You can further tailor your SMS marketing campaigns with this first-party data when you sync your product catalogue data with your SMS platform. If a subscriber browses a blue t-shirt on your website but doesn’t make a purchase, you can send them a triggered text message inviting them to come back and check out that specific product again.
Third-party data is collected and owned by a third party that doesn’t have a direct relationship with your customer (i.e., data aggregators, who buy data from other sources). This type of data isn’t necessarily from your actual customers, but rather represents a collection of data from a large, anonymised audience.
It’s long been at the core of how marketers target and personalise their messages across channels, but third-party cookies are phasing out with the rise of more privacy regulations. Zero- and first-party data are the path forward for brands that want to successfully attract and retain customers through personalised marketing.
As you bring all of these insights together and gradually learn more about your customers' interests, behaviours, and motivations, you can build robust profiles that help you reach the right customer with the right message at the right time. And, ultimately, increase engagement and revenue from SMS.
Build segments that create truly personalised experiences
Once you’ve collected your customers’ data, you’re ready to make it actionable by creating customer segments. These segments will help you deliver a highly personalised experience at scale, ultimately helping you grow customer lifetime value and improve campaign performance.
Types of segments
There are four main types of customer segments you might use.
Demographic segments are one of the most common and basic segments. These segments focus on dividing target customers based on personal information like age or gender, which is usually relatively easy to come by.
For example, clothing promotions are often segmented by gender, since there isn’t often much overlap in apparel that men and women would purchase.
Geographic segments are another important but fairly low-lift type of segment, which involve targeting your audiences based on where they are located. This is especially important when marketing regional or in-store promotions.
Behavioural segments separate customers based on how they behave and are some of the most valuable segments. You might segment your customers based on:
- Browsing behaviour, such as what types of products they look at
- Purchase behaviour, including how often they buy, what they’ve bought, or whether they abandoned a cart
- Customer value, such as how much they spend with you or whether they’ve made a referral
- Engagement, including whether they’re frequent engagers or might be at risk of churning
- Where they’re at in the life cycle—for example, whether they are a new customer or have been purchasing from you for years
Psychographic information includes customers’ values, personality, and attitudes. The simplest form of psychographic segments separate customers based on preferences you might have collected as part of your zero-party data strategy. However, you might also infer psychographic information from customers’ behaviour. For example, if they frequently engage with your social media when you post workout content, you might add them to a healthy lifestyle segment that receives promotions on workout products and content.
Start with the segments most likely to help you hit your goals
The number of segments you could build is almost infinite, so how do you decide where to start? While every brand and audience is different, there are a few audience segments that retailers tend to see success with. If you’re just getting started with your segmentation strategy, these are good places to test first.
Focus on sending campaign messages to customers who have recently engaged with your brand—for example, customers who clicked a text message in the last 30 days. These customers are already showing high intent, so a promotional campaign could be just the thing they need to convert to purchase.
Send your best offers—like free gifts, discounts, and early access—to your VIP customers to reward them for their loyalty and continue to build retention.
Upsells and cross-sells
Maybe you notice that customers who buy a pair of regular glasses frequently buy a pair of sunglasses, too. Target your customers who recently bought regular glasses with a message suggesting they make use of their updated prescription to buy a pair of sunglasses to encourage repeat purchases. Using a customer data platform can be especially helpful in identifying these trends (more on that later in this section).
If you’ve got subscribers who haven’t engaged with your messages in a while—think, 90 days or more—try a re-engagement campaign. Special offers and time-sensitive campaigns can be especially effective at enticing them back.
Test and optimise
The types of messages that resonate will likely differ between segments. For example, unengaged subscribers might be more likely to purchase with a discount, whereas loyal customers could be more motivated by low stock announcements. To make sure you’re choosing the most effective strategies for each segment, you’ll want to regularly A/B test your messages.
Messaging approaches you may want to test to optimise impact for each segment include:
- Format and length
- Link placement and destination
- Calls to action
- Tone of voice
- Send times or wait times
To make sure your A/B test results are as reliable as possible, focus on testing one variable at a time with a large enough sample size for each variant (we recommend 500+).
Integrate your data to unlock more powerful personalisation
While there are a number of tried-and-true segments that brands commonly turn to in order to fuel a basic segmentation strategy, your audience and what works for them is unique. But understanding what makes your customers unique—and how to leverage it to fuel personalisation that drives the most ROI—can be tough when you’ve got mountains of data and you’re interacting with your audience across multiple channels. So when you’re ready to level up your segmentation strategy, you might want to bring in a customer data platform (CDP).
What is a Customer Data Platform?
When consumers shop online, they rarely check out one website and then make a purchase. Their customer journey involves interacting with many touch points along the way—social media, websites, chatbots, email, SMS, in-store, transactional interactions (both online and instore), customer support, and more.
A customer data platform (CDP) combines the insights collected from these different sources and interactions into a single, centralised view. In other words, it gives you a robust picture of each customer, so you can make data-informed decisions and design more personalised and effective campaigns across all your marketing channels.
How can a CDP unlock more revenue?
One of the most powerful ways marketers use a CDP is for customer acquisition. Specifically, building audience segments using cross-channel data to better target prospects. A customer profile could include data from the website, mobile app, and point of sale that help inform the lifetime value of that customer, including insights into their behaviour. These attributes can be used to create audience segments.
Identify more advanced opportunity segments
CDP powered customer insights and segments help unlock new competitive advantages, identify opportunities to increase customer engagement, grow loyalty, and drive sales.
By bringing together all your customer data in one place, here are 10 valuable, more advanced segments that a CDP enables you to build and execute against:
- High-value customer acquisition—who are my best customers?
- Hero products—what are my best products for high value acquisition?
- Converting one-time buyers to two-time buyers—what are my best products for conversion?
- Driving repeat purchase within the same category—what are my best products for replenishment?
- Reactivating inactive customers—who are my customers at risk of becoming lapsed?
- Winning lapsed customers back—what promotions can be leveraged to drive re-engagement?
- Omnichannel—which customers shop across multiple channels or what is their preferred shopping channel?
- Addressability—which customers engage with our marketing, and what is the best channel to reach them?
- Discount shoppers—who are my customers who only purchase during sale periods?
- Customer satisfaction—how are our brand promoters or detractors, ie; NPS.
Improve message personalisation with predictive analytics
Brands with the greatest agility and speed-to-action are the ones in the best position to grow their customer base and revenue. Using the latest AI and marketing models, a CDP creates intelligent metrics and can help predict what your customers will do next.
High value acquisitions are a consistent goal for any brand. Using data from your current best customers, you can predict who will be your new potential high value customers from day one and put them on the path to become loyalists.
Predictive analysis can also improve retention, repeat purchase, and reduce time between orders by identifying what high value customers buy next, and the average time between their orders. This can help inform triggered messages to anticipate repeat purchases with the right message at the right time, leading to increased retention.
Personalised campaign ideas to try today
Now that you've collected your customer data and built your segments, here are ideas to put them into action. Many of them can be automated with templates, which saves your team time and effort To find more inspiration, check out Texts We Love.
Shopping behaviour segment ideas
Back-in-stock notifications are a super helpful tool for customers, as they’ll be the first to know when a coveted item is available again. They also give marketers a natural opportunity to reach back out and remind their most engaged customers to make a purchase. A text is especially beneficial for these types of message,s as there is a sense of urgency to snag the item while it’s available.
Cart abandon messages are the bread and butter of most triggered campaigns, but as a marketer, you’re only allowed to remind a customer once about their specific cart. However, you can still use this behaviour data to segment on the customer’s interest and send them additional discount offers to complete the purchase.
Next product recommendation
Use purchase history to recommend complementary items that would make sense as the next purchase. For example, if a customer purchased a bag, you could send them a recommendation for a matching wallet, or a cinema could identify that a customer is a fan of horror films and make sure they’re notified about every new release.
Converting one-time shoppers
Up to 80% of customers will be one-time buyers for most retail brands, but you can unlock data that helps determine what a customer would naturally purchase next, and create more targeted follow-up campaigns.
Sur La Table, an omnichannel kitchen store specialising in everything from cookware to culinary classes, knew focusing on converting one-time shoppers was a great opportunity. Using a combination of data insights, personalised engagement, and automation, they engaged a four-point strategy to tackle. For example, finding that culinary classes often lead to cookware purchases but less so in reverse, they set up a campaign targeting bakeware buyers with personalised messaging around the culinary classes specific to the products they purchased.
If your loyal customers need to repurchase your product on a regular basis, sending auto-replenishment texts is a great way to provide an instant reminder, as well as ensure that they continually purchase the product. Take it one step further and set-up a two-way journey asking customers when they would like to receive their reminders to make sure the replish texts land at the right time.
Two weeks after a subscriber makes a purchase, Whirley Pop Shop sends a follow-up text message using Attentive’s Two-Way Journeys™, making it easy to schedule a repurchase reminder. After setting up the triggered flow once, the brand can automatically confirm the subscriber’s choice and set up future reminders. Since SMS subscribers are often highly engaged, repeat customers, this flow consistently drives incremental revenue from the brand’s mobile audience.
Customer value segment ideas
Track customer purchases no matter where they make them. Then, once a customer has made, say, 6 purchases online and 3 in-store or any combination of this, send them an SMS to say their tenth purchase is free or discounted.
Special occasion recognition
Integrate customer data, such as a birth date or even a wedding anniversary, and create segments for each specific month in order to send a special birthday reward or a cheeky reminder to the corresponding customers on the first of each month. You can also collect this information during a welcome journey.
Reward your most loyal customers with special offers just for them. You can give them an option to sign up for “insider” messages, or specifically send an invitation to opt-in to VIP status based on purchase value, frequency, membership, or referral activity.
MATE The Label rang in the New Year with an exclusive dollar-off discount to nurture both new SMS subscribers they gained during BFCM and long-time brand loyalists. The personal greeting from the brand’s founder positioned the offer as a “thank you,” making each of their SMS subscribers feel special.
Take advantage of the good will of your brand’s biggest fans by encouraging them to spread the word with their friends, and in return, reward them.
Forty-five days after a subscriber’s first purchase, sustainable footwear brand Cariuma invites them to join their referral program. Cariuma’s program’s exclusive perks fuel new purchases and reflects the brand’s eco-friendly mission, while helping retain valuable customers and spread brand awareness.
Customer preferences segment ideas
Create a personalised shopping experience during your busiest times of the year by asking customers who they are shopping for and delivering gift guides for those audiences. For example, on Valentine’s Day, ask if they are shopping for their mom, wife, or daughter, and show them products that may fit the criteria.
Anthropologie helped subscribers find the perfect gift based on their price point. The brand encouraged subscribers to reply with the number that corresponded with how much they wanted to spend. Then, Anthropologie recommended a list of items that were priced within their budget.
What they are shopping for
Collect high-level product preferences on your sign-up unit, and follow up with more in-depth questions through two-way journeys. From identifying style and fit for apparel purchases, skin type for beauty products, or even breed type for dog-related retailers, the possibilities for questions and message personalizations are endless.
Certain times of the year can be a sensitive time for customers. Give them an option to opt out of specific messaging, and show them you care. You can create a journey to allow them to opt-out of specific campaigns by simply texting a keyword. This self-reported data can also be used to personalise future campaigns.
Revel Nail offered subscribers the opportunity to opt out of content related to Mother’s Day by simply replying “PAUSE.” These subscribers were then excluded from all Mother’s Day content. While this strategy may seem counterintuitive, it actually shows your subscribers that you’re committed to delivering the experience they want to have with your brand.
Find out if your customer is still getting value from your text program. If someone hasn’t interacted with your messages for several months, send a text asking if they still want to hear from you. You can use two-way journeys to capture the answer with options like Yes, Less Often, and No.
Personalisation is table stakes, but customer expectations for what a truly personalised experience feels like are higher than ever. As brands push all of their channels to deliver higher ROI, those that win will use smarter data strategies to go beyond basic demographic and geographic segments and tailor their marketing to deliver exactly what their customers want, when they want it.
If you aren’t already sending personalised campaigns to the most common, high-priority segments, start testing them today. Speak to an SMS specialist for a full programme assessment to make sure you’re fully unlocking the robust personalisation capabilities of the channel built for delivering one-to-one experiences, and consider chatting with a customer data expert to get the most out of your data.
Attentive empowers the most innovative brands to create meaningful interactions through personalised text messaging.
Attentive® is the leader in conversational commerce, reinventing business to consumer communication. Our SMS-first software platform helps everyone from entrepreneurs to enterprises strengthen relationships with their consumers in a new way. Through two-way, real-time, personalised communications, we drive billions in e-commerce revenue and over 8,000 leading brands like Rebecca Minkoff, Urban Outfitters, Steve Madden, and Charlotte Tilbury rely on Attentive to deliver powerful commerce experiences.
To learn how to get started with our free trial for qualified brands, request a demo to speak with one of our SMS marketing specialists.
Built for retail from the beginning, Lexer is the leader in helping brands become customer-centric. Lexer's Customer Data and Experience Platform (CDXP) helps over 150 brands, including THE ICONIC, Sur La Table, Zimmermann, Supergoop!, Good American and Rip Curl, unlock their most vital business asset, customer data, putting it in the hands of all teams to inspire and enable the experiences that drive sales. The company is headquartered in Melbourne, with global operations in Australia, North America, and Southeast Asia. Learn more at https://lexer.io.