Online experiences need to be organic and seamless, ideally feeling so natural they are unnoticeable to the user. This is where personalisation is key. Personalisation is no longer simply about capturing names and email addresses to tailor email marketing. It needs to run deeper to impress tech-savvy customers: added value needs to be provided.
How to obtain online user data
The first step to building effective personalisation is gathering useful user data; the more data a user shares with you, the more you are able to answer their needs and desires. There are a number of ways marketing professionals capture data online, such as:
- Sign-ups to newsletters: as well as regular updates, this can include notifications of product stock levels or price alerts.
- Online profiles: loyalty programmes are a strong channel for encouraging users to share their details, but profiles can also offer user experiences such as saving prior search information for use on a future visit.
- Gated content: value-add through resources available to people who provide contact details and other information.
- Recording key engagement signs through their visitor journey: usually done through in-session tracking and first party cookies.
- Cross-platform sharing: if a person follows you on social media, consider how those conversations and interactions feed into their customer profile. This can let you build on these interactions when they visit your own site. With changes to third party cookies, this avenue will be more challenging in the near future.
What makes a user comfortable in handing over their data?
The popular saying “ask and you shall receive” is no longer true when it comes to users sharing their data. Privacy is paramount for many online users, and people of all ages are increasingly wary of what type of companies they share information with. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You need to build trust and make a user feel comfortable with your brand before they will consider sharing their information. But how do you do this?
Clear communication of your data policy
Craft clear policies on how you use and store their data. It’s important to clearly communicate what the benefit for the user is – by creating a profile, are they able to access their recent flight search history? By providing their age, does it mean you’ll treat them to a discount or value-add near their birthday, or de-prioritise age-inappropriate holiday options from their listings, saving them time when looking for a holiday?
You also need to be transparent about how your business is benefiting from their data: is it for marketing purposes? Do you share data with third parties? Do you use customer profiles to enhance your product development? Data policies should be easily accessible for users; it’s not just a requirement of policies such as GDPR but a key transparency commitment to building user trust.
Consider your company’s reputation
Is your company regarded as trustworthy and professional? What is your track record in handling data? Some global household names have made mistakes in managing data or found their data security was not as strong as they thought – from government departments like the UK Home Office to lockdown-hero Zoom.
People generally accept an element of risk, so explaining your company’s policies on data storage and usage are as important as the procedures you have in place to handle any unforeseen data breach. Suffering a data breach can be damaging to your brand but how you respond is much more essential in determining if that damage is short- or long-term.
Show how data inputs the user experience
Explain – or even better, show! – users how they benefit from data-driven personalisation. A study of social media found the “perceived expected benefit influences [a] user’s intention to share context information more than risk does.”
Particularly for wide-reaching companies – for example, those providing multi-age holidays instead of those providing holidays aimed solely at 18-35 year olds – user data can drive what content is shown to each user. Often this is an algorithm based on averages, not speaking directly to each individual user. Using ‘averages’ can lead to data discrimination and lower conversion rates as people drop off during their online journey after being presented with irrelevant information.
Where a user can actively provide information such as details of their travel plans – are they searching for a romantic weekend away, a week-long family holiday or a solo spiritual retreat? – websites that value and utilise that information in real-time and tailor the content to match the user’s profile will retain the user and are more likely to convert their enquiry into a sale.
Give users control
Put users in control of their data – the easier it is for them to edit, the more comfortable they will feel in sharing it in the first place. It’s preferable to provide users with an online portal they can manage their data in as and when they wish. Installing barriers to access such as requiring them to email someone to amend their name heightens frustration in the digital world, where users expect control at their fingertips.
Providing easy access to revise consent as well as amend the information they have provided in the past is not just best practice, it’s essential in many markets for legal compliance in data management.
Using data to transform online travel sales
Once you’ve built the trust of your user and they have shared their data with you, the next step is how you use that data to transform your online travel business. Find out more about how AI works for travel sales or contact our team for more information on how our products can help your business use data in a smarter way.