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How Customer Affinities Power Personalized Campaigns

Customers can be a mystery at times. 

Why did one ecommerce customer buy ten pairs of sandals in a month? And why does another loyal customer only ever buy products from one specific line and nothing else? 

You don’t always have to understand why exactly your customers make the choices they do — you just have to know that they are doing it and use that data to your advantage to drive customer loyalty

Customers have affinities for – connections to and preferences for – certain types of products, brands or item attributes, such as color and style.

Take Apple as an example. Some people have such a strong brand affinity that they will only buy Apple products and wouldn’t consider purchasing an Android phone or a Windows laptop — even if they get discounts codes and a ton of perfectly crafted personalized marketing messages

There are many different types of customers affinities, including: 

  • Fans of a particular brand
  • Customers who only buy from certain categories, such as ladies jeans 
  • Price-conscious shoppers who only buy products with a discount or when they are on sale
  • Seasonal products who shop around major holidays

The way you market to customer base – the type of campaigns you send them and the content these contain – should differ according to these specific affinities in order to create a better customer experience. You can use customer affinities to create a more targeted marketing strategy and more personalized campaigns, which drive better results and can have a real impact on your bottom line.

How to discover customers’ affinities

To find out if your long-term and new customers have particular affinities, you have to collect and analyze data on their past interactions with your brand.

Data on past interactions 

First, you should look for patterns in your customers’ interactions with your brand and their behavior on your website — even anonymous browsing. Every single interaction can help you uncover affinities. If they are browsing, adding to their cart, and buying men’s shoes, then you can assume they are interested in that category. Or, if they always like posts on your Instagram account about a particular brand of outdoor clothing, then you can send out a brand fan campaign or other personalized content.

First-party data

The second way to collect the necessary information is to ask customers for it. By harnessing first-party data collected through preference centers, surveys, and web forms, you can learn about the self-identified affinities of your customers. For example, if you run an online pet store, you can ask customers to specify what kind of pet they have in their preference center or through a popup form on your site.

The key to getting customers to give you this information is to present it in the right way. For example, you can run a campaign around customizing your buyers’ experience with your brand. When people realize that they will get personalized messages and content, they are far more likely to spend a few minutes answering questions or ticking boxes. Another tactic is to offer a reward or a chance to be entered into a competition in return for the data. Either way, you’re getting to know your customers better!

How to create personalized campaigns based on affinities

By using customer affinities, you can say goodbye to outdated marketing tactics like batch-and-blast email. Instead, you can create dynamic segments based on preferences or past interactions and send out personalized campaigns using this customer data.

For example, if you know that a customer is price conscious and only buys your products when they are on sale, then you can send them campaigns focused on product sales or price drops to that specific buyer. You can also choose to only send them products within a certain price range to encourage purchases.

This also extends to the content of the emails, which you can personalize by using dynamic content:

  • If a customer indicates they’re female through their preference center or a web form, you can send campaigns with targeted products for women
  • If they ticked a box to say they are interested in kitchen items, make sure to include related content in your campaigns
  • If they only want to communicate with your brand via a specific channel, only engage through that one channel

Another way to use affinities is to create and send personalized campaigns that help customers discover new products related to what have bought or browsed in the past. If a shopper browses sunglasses, try sending a new product alert email to upsell a different pair, or send a targeted coupon for a related sun hat or another product line.

This campaign from apparel brand Saint Bernard does a fantastic job of recommending products based on customer affinities. In this email, they serve up brand and gender-specific products based on what customers have shown interest in historically.


Diversify content to maximize engagement

You can use customer affinities to personalize every single message you send to customers, whether it’s a newsletter, discount code, browse or cart abandonment, winback campaign, or even a seasonal campaign.

For example, if you are trying to reengage a customer through a winback campaign and you know they have previously purchased or browsed lipstick, you can send them a discount code for that exact product. Same goes for a cart abandonment campaign. Or if a customer is interested in a certain brand, you can create email or social media content that tells the company’s back story and engages that buyer.

Health retailer Holland & Barrett combines a general discount with a seasonal offer on items from a brand the customer has previously interacted with. It’s a great way to engage buyers that love the New Nordic brand and hopefully entice some to buy.

No matter what affinities your customers have, it’s important to diversify the campaigns and content you send since not everyone is in buying mode all the time. Try to keep them engaged even when they aren’t ready to buy. That way, you can be top of mind when they do decide to make a purchase. Even if they don’t convert, you still want them to open and click all of your campaigns.

Remember to A/B test personalized campaigns

Even if you are using data customers have voluntarily given you to send personalized campaigns, there is no exact science behind what will resonate with your buyers. That’s why it’s important to be constantly optimizing and testing what kind of campaigns and content you send. If you target a group that normally only buys your products with a discount or sale with a best seller email, what will happen? Test this alongside a seasonal sales campaign and see what converts at a higher rate.

Different groups also respond better to different types of messages. Brand fans might respond better to top-of-the-funnel content such as funny videos, whereas seasonal shoppers only open and click on product-related content. Find out what each segment of affinity-specific customers like and then segment and readjust your strategy based on that data.

By showing customers that you care about their preferences and pay attention to what they tell you, you can create the kind of delightful experiences that keep them coming back for more.


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