Hyper-personalization at scale is marketing’s Holy Grail–harnessing the collective power of data, technology, and creativity in real time to provide customers with targeted content, services, and products. It has the power to enhance the customer experience along entire user journeys, which, ultimately, can increase revenues by 15%, reduce acquisition costs by 50%, and boost marketing spend efficiency by up to 30%, according to McKinsey.
Adidas is a front-runner, having created unique video content for all 30,000 runners in 2018’s Boston Marathon. As Unilever CMO Keith Weed put it, “We now have the opportunity to understand people on a one-to-one basis–to get down to that individual engagement.”
So why don’t we see more hyper-personalisation today? Because while the business case is strong, some marketers still have concerns: that they could breach GDPR, erode customer trust, or simply create too much technological complexity. Below I ease these concerns and demonstrate why hyper-personalisation is more than worthy of consideration.
These are natural given the financial penalties that could be levied at companies failing to comply with GDPR rules. Recently, media buyers have exercised more caution, with some eschewing audience-based behavioural targeting in favour of serving ads based on the context of what users see on page.
While some businesses are still coming to grips with the new legislation, many have already started building capability in the management of customer consent and compliance. The technology platforms automating this practice have access to the data necessary to fuel personalisation in real time and enhance customer experiences. While these new sources contain less data, they’re more valuable because they’re properly maintained. And the truth is that as few as two or three data points can be enough to create a more personalised experience.
2. Wary Customers
Today’s customers are perceptive, informed, and empowered–and engaging them is harder than ever. Recent studies show that 76% of ads aren’t recalled, and one in four Britons delete apps on the same day they’re installed. Ambitious businesses appreciate they must create high-quality experiences that differentiate them, and personalisation is one way to achieve that.
However, there’s a fine line between skillful targeting of personalised ads and getting too close for comfort; customers will take notice when brands get it wrong. Some 47% of people said they would never trust a brand again if it used their personal data in a way they deemed inappropriate.
The good news is that customers are happy to offer their data as long as they’re confident that it’s going to be used in a respectful way. Indeed, 64% of people say they recognise the value of personal data as currency in exchange for a more personalised experience. One important aspect of managing expectations is to be transparent about which data are being used, and what benefits customers will see.
3. Business Implications
The technology platforms required to deliver hyper-personalisation at scale can be complex, especially if you want to go beyond context-driven recommendations (based on interaction history) and develop the ability to predict customer intent (using deep learning).
In my experience (and that of others), it’s worth investing in powerful tools, because marketers who do not can get burned by an information and capability disadvantage, putting themselves behind their competition.
Getting your teams ready for hyper-personalisation is likely to require some organisational change and cultural evolution. The upside for your people could be huge. As they learn to manage these tools and become masters of complex task automation, they’ll develop the next generation of creative skills, ensuring they stay relevant in today’s fast-changing marketplace.
4. Too Risky
No one wants the reputation of an advocate for new technology that made customers feel uncomfortable. Risk can be reduced by exercising a test-and-learn approach. As the availability of GDPR-compliant data increases, businesses will be motivated to experiment with more advanced hyper-personalisation strategies.
It’s also critical that personalisation is not just a one-off activity but follows an entire user journey. Understanding that journey is critical to ensuring that personalisation is properly tailored to the user.
In my experience, risk can also be mitigated by adopting the right framework to better engage customers. Businesses should begin in an “improve” phase to reclaim customer value; move into an “upgrade” phase to accelerate profit per customer; and aspire to an “invent” phase, experimenting with new products, services, and revenue models.
How To Get It Right
Once marketers have overcome these concerns, they are ready forge ahead. Here’s my roadmap to success:
• Maximise the value of data: While there’s now more customer data than ever (global mobile traffic has doubled in the last two years), this needs to be balanced with the data points that are actually needed to power personalisation in the post-GDPR world.
• Create hyper-relevant, nuanced connections: As the number of contextual axes grows (e.g., behavior, age, geography, time of day or week) and the number of channels and devices .increases, brands must exercise perceptiveness in choosing when and how to speak to consumers.
• Ensure personalisation aligns with brand purpose: Rollout should be consistent across all channels, support in-market initiatives, and aim to engage customers emotionally.
If marketers can achieve the above, they can empower their teams to extract maximum value from customer data. Unearthing valuable insights can help create highly personalised marketing campaigns that enhance the lives of customers.