Kate Elizabeth — 18 April 2019
Following on from our last blog post, where we looked at franchise trends for brands, we are taking a deeper dive into the use of data to personalise franchise marketing. Personalisation has become a core component of the marketer's arsenal, to the point that it is the standard operating procedure.
Let's start by looking at personalisation and hyper-personalisation.
Personalisation takes provided data and usually uses this data to build the appearance of 1:1 communication. Emails tokenise the use of my first name and company name regularly; display advertising positions ads of the products I have visited on a website but haven't yet purchased; offers from sporting organisations relate to the states I have attended events.
Hyper-personalisation uses real-time actions and Big Data to provide customised and target offers, content and customer experience. We both might be the same age, gender, and have similar interests, but based on detailed data-profiles, we may see different landing pages, content and product on the website of a retailer. These solutions aren't built manually; instead, they are crafted and displayed in real time.
Traditionally marketing used a one-size-fits-all approach to create content and put it in front of people. The placement of this content was usually in mass-market channels, with occasionally some Direct Mail (DM) thrown in for good measure. The extent of personalisation for DM was a customised name but not a lot else. Some segmentation might have occurred, but it wasn't extensive and usually took an extraordinary amount of effort (and money) by a research agency.
As digital came to the fore and marketers realised the treasure-trove of data that they could gather and people would part with, the ability to segment your customers and prospective customers would allow us easy, and relatively inexpensive, access to segments.
These segments were usually based around information the customer had parted with, some from product and service engagement (like cart-size or frequency of visit) and some behavioural like search queries, and scroll and click behaviour.
This data collection and use meant that emails became more targeted than having your name as the addressee, so that the content curation, image selection and product offering could be tailored to the segment you belonged to. For example, if you had previously purchased kidswear from Country Road, you would see kidswear included in your next email. If you bought catfood from PetBarn, you were more likely to receive a text message from them when cat food next went on sale, instead of receiving unrelated offers like dog beds or dog food. This segmentation was still based on groups of behaviour and characteristics like location or gender.
Enter hyper-personalisation and dynamic content - based on your actual behaviour online and offline websites can build a customised homepage with only products relevant to you based on your history and their behavioural profiling.
One of the best examples of this is Netflix. The content Netflix makes available to me is incredibly hyper-personalised - from the titles it shows to the artwork it presents for these titles. If I have a history of choosing movies with strong female leads, I will see more cover art with females than males, even if the male is the main character. The triggers and tracking in place for platforms like Netflix and Spotify are truly Herculean, and the infrastructure to support the tech and the content creation is very robust.
The world of franchise, with legacy systems and the diverse background of franchisees, often means the franchise system is in the late majority when it comes to adopting new technology, particularly in the marketing arena.
Businesses with different business models will jump on board in the early adopter or early majority stage and franchise systems will wait for proof of concept from these organisations before looking to invest. This is understandable with new investment often funded from franchisee contributions, and the franchise system will often minimise risk and exposure by waiting for the technology and the experience to become the norm.
Often the customer experience will normalise in other sectors and set the standard for participation in franchise sectors. For example, banks have led the way with digital-first solutions and the ease of engagement with technology like contactless payments and splitting bills. While your business might not be built around a contactless experience, it certainly can put more emphasis on frictionless, for example. That might mean your online cart experience needs to decrease from three clicks to a single click.
While hyper-personalisation is strong, and growing stronger, as a marketing strategy within other categories, many franchise businesses are mastering personalisation throughout their network and through local area marketing.
Franchise marketing can only be personalised at either a national or local area marketing level if you have the data to personalise. Don't be afraid of asking for customer data - if you don't ask, you don't get, and the worst that will happen is they will say no!
The easiest and most obvious personalisation is through emails, remembering to tokenise (use insert or merge fields) for data you have like their name, location and perhaps their most recent purchase.
You can personalise emails using their first name in subject lines and the email salutation. If you are asking for a review on their recent product or following up with a post-sales contact, insert the name/s of the products they purchased.
If you have data that allows you to build segments for your email recipients, use that to craft content aimed at that persona or segment. High-value customers with significant or frequent purchases should be receiving different emails and offers to the person who purchases from you twice a year as a gift.
Your content for the first segment could be around recognising and rewarding their loyalty and their value to your brand. Your messaging can be around reinforcing their decision as the right one because your brand values them. Your content for the second, infrequent purchase segment, can be aimed at getting an extra purchase from them over the year. Your personalisation could include a special offer for this segment, or present similar conditions to their other purchases, i.e. the tip to buy gifts and have them ready to go, rather than the last minute panic-purchase.
If your franchise deals with customers buying for personal use and customers buying for business use, you will have two separate personas with different brand value propositions and messaging frameworks. Your email content should use your knowledge from these personas to create segmented content. For example, buying a printer for myself, I may be focused on the price of the refill cartridges, but for the business, I may be more focused on speed. Understanding the core motivating factors for each persona will enable you to dial up or down the various features and benefits in your email content.
Your franchise marketing system may not yet have the technology to build unique home pages for each customer, but you can undoubtedly create landing pages for personas and segments to drive people to visit through advertising and email content.
Having a local website presence, whether it is a micro-site, subdomain or page on the master website is also essential, personalised to a franchisee's local area. Use data of your top-sellers or best-converting in your local store or territory to build the content for this page.
Personalising your video with details drawn from data helps to increase click rate, length of video viewed and also clicks to action. You might have product knowledge videos that you can customise with a top and tail based on customer data. Or you could customise your new campaign video with personalisation referencing the customers' previous success with your brand.
Think about what data you have available, and what assets are readily available. Most personalisation isn't about creating new assets from scratch but instead taking existing assets to the next level by applying personalisation.
Display advertising, appearing on most platforms in the form of remarketing, is personalised based on the customers' search and website and product interaction. The central marketing team alongside the digital team or agency should have this personalised/segmented display advertising set up for the national presence as well as the local area marketing.
Customers will trade quite a bit for ease, efficiency and relevance. Some people might see the loading of 'because you bought' products as an imposition, but most of us see it as an opportunity to maximise our existing spend by buying a new top to work with those pants. Some people might want to spend hours browsing Netflix for their next bingeable show, but most of us are happy to spend less time browsing and more time watching thanks for the algorithm. Some of my all-time favourite music finds have been part of Spotify's recommendations rather than my knowing what I wanted.
And, of course, Outfit enables all of this personalisation.
Personalisation isn't creepy - it's less I Know What You Did Last Summer and more, I understand how not to waste your time. And what franchise business couldn't benefit from showing their customers they know them?