Keeping things relevant


In recent years, brands seem increasingly preoccupied with the be-all-end-all importance of the relevance level required to meet consumers’ needs adequately. Thanks to technological evolution, among other things, it’s now easier than ever to manage consumers’ expectations, segment our customer base and even reach a level of granularity regarding customer knowledge that makes 1:1 personalization possible. However, though more and more brands are taking great care to increase the level of relevance in all their customer communications, consumer satisfaction is still not at 100%. As reported by Oracle in April 2018, while 58% of brands believe their offers are relevant, only 32% of consumers believe that these offers are actually relevant.

A huge gap still exists between consumers’ and brands’ expectations.

Is it really that serious that a brand’s communications are irrelevant to its customers? Couldn’t the consumer simply ignore them and move on?

No! The more time goes by, the more serious the damage caused by irrelevance becomes. We all know that relevance in itself generates customer engagement and that this same commitment translates to sales growth. The biggest mistake brands make is that, while they understand this phenomenon, they completely ignore the fact that irrelevance generates more and more dissatisfaction. Why? Because consumers aren’t idiots. They all know how much data brands have on them, which makes their expectations regarding relevance that much higher. In the past, little customer data was available. Consumers received irrelevant communications, but their expectations were very low at the time. Today, the opposite is true.

How can we be relevant and, most importantly, increase our level of relevance progressively?

Like it or not, the starting point is customer data. Data can be gleaned from loyalty card and online transactions, information provided in a customer preference centre, web behaviour, receipts sent by email and any other means of individual-specific data collection.

However, becoming more relevant and constantly aiming to be more pertinent can be a long process. Knowing a consumer is vegetarian, lactose intolerant or always buying fruits and vegetables in large quantities often makes a big difference when consumers realize communications they receive target specific aspects of their purchasing behaviour. Once a brand has crossed the threshold and tagged certain consumer characteristics, it’s essential to continue the work by addressing the predictive side of consumers’ needs.

In recent months, artificial intelligence has blossomed. AI is now used in many sectors of activity. The retail trade is no exception, and more and more retailers are leveraging it. Machine learning’s continuous learning curve has taken over the formerly manual and static tasks of optimizing relevance. In simple terms, the more data is injected, the more this same data is continuously analyzed—which results in increasingly higher levels of relevance.

Manifestly, relevance is a unique means by which to engage consumers and drive their loyalty. Brands that put this concept at the top of their list of priorities will set themselves apart from others that do not.

Here’s what consumers had to say when Oracle asked more than 13,000 of them about their appreciation level:

  • When they receive personalized offers that are based on their preferences:
    • 69% said they found these offers highly interesting.
  • When they receive personalized offers based on their purchase history:
    • 66% said they found this very engaging.
  • When they receive personalized content and communications:
    • 58% said they found this very engaging.

These results strongly suggest a high-level of appreciation when a brand leverages data and makes everything actionable.

From a security and privacy point of view, many consumers are still skeptical about the proper use of their personal data. However, using data in a manner that makes their lives easier is always the best course of action. Few people are likely to be offended when you speak to them as if you’ve known them for years.

This is what relevance is all about. Without a doubt, relevance is the crux of the customer experience. Above all, here’s what every consumer would like to say: "Dear Retailer, if I agree to give you access to my priceless personal data, please don’t let me down!"

Becky Wright

Author: Becky Wright, VP Salesforce Alliance & Marketing

Becky’s background in corporate marketing, sales and leadership spans several industries including Media and Communications, Retail and Consumer Goods, Professional Services, Finance and Technology. With more than 15 years of worldwide experience in rapidly growing organizations, Becky plays a major role in integrating technologies and business processes to create demand engines that influence and convert growth. Becky’s passion for technology and B2B enterprise services inspire her to share unique perspectives on digital transformation strategies that deliver strong results and deep business intelligence.