The next wave of personalisation
Gartner’s recent prediction that 80% of marketers will abandon personalization efforts by 2025 confirms the urgent need for an industry-wide consensus on what personalisation actually is and reaffirms that the next wave of personalisation ought to be more holistic, driven by customer insights and embedded across every consumer touch point.
Imagine you are having a conversation with someone, perhaps you’re looking for advice from them. Typically they can tell how you feel, judge how you are responding to what you’re being told and whether you agree or disagree with this and can therefore pivot and respond accordingly. Imagine if this person then began making suggestions that were totally irrelevant to the conversation you’d just had, that the advice you were being given had already been discussed and declined. How frustrating would that be? Well, this is what we typically experience with many of the brands we interact with online.
Some brands do little more than basic segmentation and call this personalisation, but are all the people in these segments really the same? Are their wants and needs the same? Do they all have the same motivations for visiting your site? Should you really be targeting these apparently similar people in the same way? Understanding each customer, their individual motivations, and then customising the content you serve them accordingly, gives your brand an important competitive advantage and an ability to build stronger relationships and brand equity.
What Gartner’s findings confirm to us is a clear need for a more standardised definition of personalisation that spans beyond recommendations and product customisation and reflects its full potential across the entire customer journey. Personalisation is often misrepresented as largely just customisation and misses the far greater value it delivers as a way to build strong relationships with customers.
It is no longer enough for brands to engage in basic forms of personalisation that provide little relevancy or value to their customers. True personalisation is customer centric and provides timely, relevant experiences across a customer’s preferred touchpoints. Brands need to become more customer centric, providing them with the goods and services that they need and want and do so in a contextually relevant, timely manner across the right touchpoints.
This is something that was reflected in a YouGov UK study we recently commissioned. The results confirmed that consumer buying behavior continues to be strongly driven by personalisation. For example, as many as 57% of UK consumers in our survey said they’ve made an impulse purchase after seeing a personalised offer. 48% said they would make additional purchases from the same brand as a result of personalisation, but this jumped as high as 70% when the offer was also seen as relevant.
Brands have been typically looking to personalisation to help them become more efficient and as such profitable. However, the true potential of personalisation lies in its ability to help brands become smarter, faster (even automated) decision makers in optimising the customer journey. An obvious by-product of this will be greater efficiency and profitability.
Personalisation is not about content or campaigns (outputs) but rather on contextually relevant experiences of value and utility at the appropriate moment via the preferred customer touchpoint. This reduced level of friction, ease of access and functionality creates better customer relations and brand equity.
Implementation & benefits
To deliver this level of consumer value goes beyond data-driven practices. It needs organization-wide commitment and a realisation that the future of personalisation is a convergence of decisioning and innovation with data and analytics, and not only in terms of tools and technology but also talent and culture. This is the only way to deliver a relevant, valuable experience across every consumer touch point.
When a more holistic approach to personalisation is not followed, relevance goes out the window and personalisation without relevance is a major consumer turn-off. Two thirds (67%) of UK consumers in our YouGov survey, viewed irrelevant communication as a major turn-off saying that they would consider shopping elsewhere as a result. This figure actually further underlines the extent to which personalisation drives consumers buying behavior. Personalisation, its impact, the role it can play and the benefits to both brands and the consumer has been misunderstood for too long.
Every element of marketing has undergone massive evolution, particularly in the last decade. Whatever changes personalisation does undergo by 2025 - or whether we are calling it something entirely different by then, the role of personalisation is going nowhere because the fundamental reasons for its existence will not - driving revenue by providing a more relevant customer experiences and building true and long lasting relationships with your customers.