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Why Digital Marketers Should Be More Like Personal Shoppers When you customize the experience to fit the customer, everyone wins.

By Karl Wirth Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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As a Christmas present a few years ago, my wife set up an appointment for me with a personal shopper. The clothes he picked were great, but the personalized experience kept me coming back after that first meeting.

I'd been shopping at the same department store for 10 years. I might as well have been a brand-new customer each time I walked in the door. The associates were nice enough, but they knew nothing about me or what I was looking for. I ended up buying less than I likely would have with more assistance, and I wasn't that happy with the things I did buy.

The personal shopper didn't just help me prevent fashion faux pas. He knew my history and understood my preferences. He also had a thorough knowledge of the store's inventory and current fashion trends. It was truly an amazing and enjoyable experience.

This is the level of personalization all businesses should be providing -- and not only in bricks-and-mortar stores. Personalization is crucial for online interactions, too. Here are three reasons marketers must customize clients' digital experiences.

1. This is a relationship.

You have a digital relationship with your customers. But are you creating digital experiences that communicate how much you value those relationships?

Think about your interpersonal relationships with your friends, coworkers and neighbors. You remember specific details about these people. You know what each likes and needs. And you aim to please because each of them can choose to have a meaningful relationship with you or some other acquaintance.

Your digital relationships with customers are no different. You choose how you invest in your relationships.

Related: 3 Ways to Avoid Creepy Creepy Marketing Practices and Build Trust With Your Customers

A decade ago, the technology didn't exist for businesses to create deep and meaningful relationships at scale. Newer technology has changed that. It's now possible for companies of any size to deliver helpful, relevant, individualized digital experiences that delight customers and make them want to come back. You simply need to prioritize and invest in this capability.

The world is becoming ever more digital. You might never meet your customers face-to-face or even speak to them directly. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do everything in your power to create meaningful relationships.

2. Expectations have changed.

In the not-so-distant past, cable TV was the norm. You had no choice but to watch shows at the time they aired. If you missed the one you wanted to see, maybe you'd get lucky and catch a rerun later.

Music was much the same. You chose which albums to buy, but radio play dictated most of the music you listened to. If you caught only the last 30 seconds of your favorite song, too bad.

Fast-forward to today. Services such as Netflix and Spotify mean you can watch or listen to the content you want, on your schedule. Your TV channel, radio stations and playlists are completely personalized to your individual tastes.

This level of personalization is the new standard, and it's elevated people's expectations for digital interaction with all companies. Yet most websites still deliver a one-size-fits-all experience.

Related: Old-School Industries Require New-School Customer Experience

Progressive companies have started adapting to their customers' desire for more personalized and dynamic experiences. All companies need to get there, though.

Customers expect you to personalize your content, message and products to them. By not meeting that expectation, you're not just missing an opportunity, you're often creating a poor experience for them. A poor experience leads to diminished loyalty -- and no one wants that.

3. It's good business.

Data doesn't lie. Personalization maps to revenue. Businesses that harness the power of personalization are seeing results. This shouldn't be too surprising. Consumers expect a personalized experience, and they will reward companies that deliver it.

A recent study by Salesforce analyzed the shopping activity of more than 150 million shoppers and 250 million visits to e-commerce sites. Among the findings: Product recommendations (which are just one aspect of personalization) drive substantial revenue. In the study, traffic from recommendation clicks accounted for 7 percent of visits but 26 percent of revenue. Furthermore, visitors who clicked a product recommendation had a 10 percent higher average order value than a customer who did not interact with a recommendation.

Related: This Is How You Discern the Person in All That Customer Personalization Data

Data from Researchscape International reinforces the trend. In its latest survey of 300 marketing professionals from five countries in 19 different industries, 87 percent of marketers reported that customization produced a measurable lift in key performance indicators. Of those, a little more than half (54 percent) experienced a lift of greater than 10 percent, while 13 percent of marketers reported a lift of over 30 percent.

Related: Cultivating an Emotional Connection With Customers Is How You Survive Disruption

It's easy to think that personalized digital experiences belong in the realm of futurists. But this type of personalization isn't five or 10 years from reality. It's happening now.

The personal shopper who tailored an experience for me in the store convinced me to keep returning. You can can delight your digital customers in much the same way. When you do, it's a win for clients as well as your business.

Karl Wirth

CEO and Co-Founder of Evergage

Karl Wirth is co-founder and CEO of Evergage. He co-authored One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning. He is passionate about helping companies deliver maximally relevant 1:1 experiences and works closely with clients to drive measurable results from personalization.

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