A huge brand, a mid-size business, or a startup – the expectation of a customer in each case is the same: A personalized experience.
I have two apps on my phone for buying groceries, fruits & vegetables. One is an established brand, while the other is a startup. The big brand offers more lucrative deals and offers than the other, but I still prefer to make purchases from the startup. Here’s why.
After I placed a few orders, the startup app’s home page shows me the items I often buy (say a certain brand’s yogurt, a specific variety of apples, etc.). Now, when I open the app, a few taps, and I am done placing my order. If I can save my time and effort, I don’t care much about saving a few more bucks buying things from the bigger brand.
When product parity is hygiene, customer experience becomes the ultimate leverage in today’s world. People might come for the products and services a brand sells but will stay only for the experience it offers. In fact, a recent Gartner survey reported that two-thirds of companies now compete on customer experience, up from just 36% in 2010.
That’s the key startups can, and must capitalize on – deliver a hassle-free, personalized experience.
And this is what AI (Artificial Intelligence) – based personalization can do for startups – help them deliver great customer experiences and win loyal customers!
Why Startups Must Adopt AI-Powered Personalization?
A recent KPMG report states that the number of startups in India has gone up from 7,000 in 2008 to 50,000 in 2018. The number is certainly rising as you read this blog.
To stand out from the crowd, the most important aspect for the startups to focus on is delivering differentiated customer experiences. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that quality customer experience can be directly translated to higher revenues, loyal customer bases, and a strong business reputation.
Unlike bigger brands, startups typically have a smaller budget and fewer resources. While huge businesses have entire teams dedicated to handling marketing, in startups, a CEO is often the same person as the CTO and the CFO. Hence, startup leaders must run a taut ship. The deeper and better the adoption of the latest martech tools (personalization, marketing automation, etc.), the faster the company can grow and flourish.
Lets deep-dive into how startups can harness the AI-powered personalization:
1. Personalized Web & App Homepage
To deliver a one-to-one customer experience
Do you remember visiting a neighborhood store where the shopkeeper greets you with a smile, knows the kind of products you prefer, and rightly predicts the items you are likely to buy? This old-world kind of experience has its own charm, isn’t it!
The modern digital customer still craves that personal attention.
With the huge amounts of customer data that businesses have at their disposal and the extremely powerful AI tools, it is very much possible to offer the same old-world feeling of shopping at a known neighborhood store. Yes, I mean homepage personalization – which means, each visitor experiences a unique and personalized home page based on his/her demographic and behavioral data.
Neil Patel, in this article, shares that homepage personalization is the second most popular type of personalized experience that marketers across companies (big & small) use.
Today’s AI-powered personalization engines can consume all the customer data and generate a personalized website and app storefront for every individual user, in real-time. Brands show products under categories like “Because you searched for XXXXXXX”, “You might also like”, etc.
Based on past transactions and browsing history, brands can offer highly relevant product recommendations.
If the users feel cared for, and your brand can help them make their purchase decisions faster and hassle-free, the customer experience automatically gets elevated.
2. Personalized Product Recommendations
To Skyrocket Revenues
With advertising costs rising high, and cost of customer acquisition higher than ever, its time brands treat their website as one of the most important marketing channels.
For, it the user has reached your website, and finds what he is looking for easily, he will stick around and will keep coming back.
While all players, big and small alike, are investing in the best technologies to offer product recommendations, it is crucial for startups because this is one aspect that can help them have an edge over competitors.
Product recommendations have a huge impact across critical metrics like average order value (AOV), revenue, conversion rate, and time spent on the website/app.
As per this Salesforce report, personalized product recommendations drive an astounding 24% of orders and 26% of revenue. Apart from boosting revenue, relevant product recommendations help in increasing repeat visits, improving customer engagement, and retention.
3. AI-powered Marketing Automation
To Win Customers’ Trust
I was at a MarTech conference, where a leading food-tech startup founder talked about what made him invest a major amount of his budget in marketing automation. Here’s what he shared.
“There is this new online travel startup that offers flight bookings at crazy discounts. Tempted, I used it to book a ticket for my next trip. While the payment went through, I did not get any email/SMS confirmation until 2 hours. The moment I saw, ‘Siddharth, your ticket is confirmed. Here are the details…’ I took a deep breath and swore to not use the app ever again. I was anxious since I was yet to have that trust in the startup. Who cares about the discounts? And it struck me, how crucial it is to have a good automation engine in place. If they had invested in a good automation platform instead of the luring customers through discounts, it could have secured a loyal customer.”
That’s what AI-powered marketing automation can do – strengthen the trust of customers in the brand, and pave the way for lasting customer relationships.
While businesses have been using marketing automation to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows, fueling the automation engines with AI is like adding superpower to the marketing strategy.
AI-driven customer data insights can help in personalizing every single touch-point in the customer journey. Be it customizing the send time of a marketing message or crafting an email subject line that appeals the most to the user, every triggered message in the automation flow can be highly personalized based on the patterns the AI-engine derives. If every communication (promotional or transactional) with the customer is meaningful and unique, customer engagement and experience is bound to get strengthened.
4. Hyper-Personalized Intelligent Chatbots
To Boost Customer Connects Chatbots are revolutionizing the way brands interact with their customers, and with the AI-powered chatbots of today, which are highly intelligent, the results are very positive.
Timely and efficient customer support is the backbone of a good customer experience. For startups that have limited time, funds and manpower, the best way they can offer individualized customer engagement at scale, through AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants. Quite soon, 80 percent of customer support communication will be handled by bots by 2020.
The point to be noted is, unlike the rule-based chatbots of yesteryears, the current AI-powered chatbots actually remember and utilize both implicit and explicit information from prior conversations with the users. They offer a non-machine like experience and respond to customer issues efficiently.
Apart from solving customer queries and addressing issues, live chatbots can be used extensively to offer human-like personal assistance to users. Big brands are already using chatbots to facilitate sales and provide information to customers. Starbucks lets its customers order their coffee through a conversational chatbot ‘My Starbucks Barista’. Leading fashion brand Levi’s helps its customers find the perfect pair of jeans through its Virtual Stylist chatbot.
While live chatbots can serve customers your website and app, you can also use chatbots to achieve highly scalable user engagement on platforms like Slack, Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and even Alexa.
Netcore recently helped Flipkart have 1.3 lakhs unique customer conversations through the Netcore-built custom WhatsApp Chatbot during the Big Billion Days sale.
If industry-leading brands are delivering such experiences to their customers at scale, high time that startups begin to invest in AI chatbots.
AI is penetrating almost every aspect of life, deeper and faster than ever, let alone business or marketing (many people still associate AI with sci-fi movies and robots). And brands, big or small, who live and breathe the truth that personalization is the key to sustained success, are already embracing AI with open arms. For others, the sooner, the better.
Check out Netcore’s special startup offers, here.