As we kick off 2020, never has the customer journey been more important than it is right now. The cornerstone of a successful business today hinges on making the customer experience easier and better at every stage of the purchasing funnel. We have so much data at our fingertips to tell us what consumers like to search for, what time of day do they like to browse, which devices do they use most, and what drives the final purchasing decision. 

Understanding this customer journey and being able to track shopping behaviour across all touchpoints – from web and in-app to email and digital campaigns – is extremely powerful in helping businesses get this engagement right. Combining these insights with 2nd and 3rd party data can also help identify patterns that can inform future strategy and create a more personalised, complete overall user experience.   

Where are we with personalisation?

Marketers have consistently agreed that personalisation helps drive better and more trusted customer relationships – in fact, a recent survey from Evergage shows this to be as high as 98%. This, in turn, generates measurable ROI, which is not something that has traditionally been easy for marketers – and perhaps why 50% of Evergage survey respondents rated it a top motivating factor for implementing personalisation strategies within their organisation. Yet, despite this, and even with all of this data at our disposal, we still see personalisation making merely guest appearances along the customer journey, rather than being applied to every stage of the process – from initial research to available offers and eventually ‘buy it now’. 

The affiliate marketing industry is entirely guilty of this. While digital marketing behemoths like Amazon, Google and Facebook have invested in personalisation to understand their customers better, the affiliate industry has seriously lagged behind. Case in point, Amazon estimates that it drives 35% of revenues through personalised product recommendations. That is extremely high, but not surprising given that the same Evergage survey showed that 85% of respondents said that their customers have now come to expect a personalised experience.

Yet, commerce content makes it easy to reach and engage with consumers in a relevant and mutually beneficial way by customising campaigns based on previous engagements and shopping behaviours. So why have we not seen the level of personalisation we know the industry is capable of incorporating into the entire funnel? 

Commerce content and the customer journey

Promotions and deals have long been favoured both by consumers, especially those that are savvy by nature and always on the bargain hunt, and advertisers alike, who credit them with being able to more quickly and efficiently convert visitors to paying customers. Digital couponing, voucher codes, and discount offers may not be the sexiest terms in the industry; however, the truth is these powerful platforms generate meaningful revenue opportunities. They allow brands to capitalise on the latest tech to pursue targeted strategies and extend reach outside of their own shops and sites and onto partner platforms. 

Take companies like Pouch, for example – this innovative browser extension tool alerts buyers to voucher codes and specific offers when they visit certain e-commerce websites in the UK so that consumers have a one-stop-shop when it comes to shopping and finding the best discounts available online. What’s more, PayPal’s recent acquisition of Honey further demonstrates how browser extensions can be a critical step in the customer journey, and how success lies solely in making the shopping experience easier and better for consumers at every stage of the journey.

Alas, I am getting ahead of myself though because, though this powerful technology is indeed critical to business today, it is not what will ultimately drive personalisation at each stage of the purchase funnel today. Personalisation is rather about putting the customer first – it is about customer-centricity. If you do not understand what motivates and excites your audience, you will undoubtedly fall at the first hurdle. 

Looking ahead

In 2019 alone, we have seen personalised, targeted campaign strategies drive tremendous growth for our retail partners in the UK. What’s more, we have seen acquisitions like PayPal and Honey no less show that personalisation is business-critical and more to the point, the impact it can have when combined with commerce content offers. It is no surprise that one of the keys to success in our industry is all about making the shopping experience easier and better for consumers at every stage of the purchasing funnel – browser extensions are a critical step in this process as they give retailers the ability to offer more personalised promotions and deals direct to consumers in a more relevant context.  

Enhancing the commerce content model in this way will be a key trend for the year ahead. I, for one, feel that commerce content and affiliate marketing will no longer be the ugly ducklings in our industry. As we start to see personalisation infiltrate the entire purchasing funnel at every customer touchpoint, we will see these solutions become one of the most essential parts of the overall marketing mix for advertisers looking to drive sales, improve transparency, and create and sustain the right level of engagement with their customers and prospects.