Published: 29 August 2019
From personalisation to individualisation at scale. It’s not as scary as you might think!
While 'personalisation' is still something of a catch-all term for anything from Netflix's personalised content recommendations based on an individuals behaviour to brands like Jet2 who recognise segments of customers, such as 'family' and then tailor their online experience accordingly, personalisation, at some level, is increasingly present and consumers are taking note!
In a recent presentation by Brendan Witcher, an analyst from Forrester US, 89% of US digital professionals claimed that they were investing in personalisation. However, conversely, only 40% of consumers believed that the content that they receive from brands was relevant to their tastes and interests. This is a set of statistics seen all over the digital industry at the moment, so the message seems to be "we're personalising but customers don't recognise it".
The Personalisation Disconnect
So why the disconnect? There are probably many complex reasons, but I'm going to try and boil it down to one simple concept which I'm calling 'Personalisation Maturity'.
Just like all things digital, there is a maturity curve that all brands tread when developing anything from channel engagement to product search to personalisation.
The Personalisation Maturity Curve
The following is a personalisation maturity scale based on what we see within our customers and the industry in general.
If we take a look at the Personalisation Maturity Curve, there are a few practices, which while showing maturity in terms of the brand implementation, are potentially having less impact on the customer. Segment based personalisation, while no doubt improving the customer experience, can be less obvious to the end-user than a good ol' fashioned 'Hi Nick, here are your last three searches'. This is because, it's still based on majorities; i.e. whilst we're not giving everyone the same experience, we are giving the majority. Yes, it's personalised, but it's still not personalised to the individual.
Now, before we all get carried away thinking 'well, what's the point in profile based personalisation?', it still absolutely has a value and should be embraced!
Improving conversion through Behavioural Segmentation
We proved in 2018 that simply splitting your digital audience into two basic segments can still have a significant impact on your conversion metrics, as you can start to tailor the customer experience.
Working with Red Carnation Hotels and The Rubens Hotel in London, we targeted 'stayers' versus 'diners' and improved entrance to the booking engine by 19% for those looking to stay at the hotel. So it does work! See here for more info.
Based on the curve above, most of the 89% of brands who are personalising are likely to be doing so through the centre three segments, with a bias towards the Message-Based and Explicit Segmentation pillars. Many brands aspire to the fourth pillar or behavioural and engagement based personalisation, but many don't achieve it due to the time and budget required to build this into a personalisation strategy and implement it within their online and offline channels.
Moving to Individualisation at Scale: The Not Scary bit!
At the start of this blog, I suggested that individualisation, or individual personalisation, is not scary - even when done at scale. The reason for that somewhat bold statement is that the advent of new tools such as Sitecore AI and the latest Adobe Target platform make the job of individualisation much easier by using data, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
As an example, the new Sitecore AI tool will make content selections, where asked to do so, for your customers based on how well similar customers engage. Similar customers being based on all digital data points - explicit, behavioural, engagement and conversion data plus any other data that you can feed into the machine learning data engine.
So whilst all that might sound a bit scary, the reality is now that if you can create the content and get your data into a machine learning-based personalisation tools, such as Sitecore or Adobe Target, the machine learning service will make all the decisions about whom to personalise for, with what content and with which relevant calls to action.
Consequently, if you're one of the many marketers who has asked 'where do I start with personalisation', the latest, and arguably most exciting, a possible answer is, let the machines work it out based on the individual and the outcomes you want them to achieve!
If you'd like to talk to one of our experts about using personalisation at scale, get in touch today on 020 070 7820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org