Three Questions Brands Need to ask Themselves About Personalisation .


I recently attended a session entitled To Affinity and Beyond: How Hyper-Personalisation Changes Everything as part of the Leeds Digital Festival.

Given the work we do helping brands implement personalisation strategies on Sitecore, I was interested to see parallels and hear about other’s challenges.

The evolution of personalisation

The speaker made the point during his introduction that personalisation is coming around full circle. Pre-Industrial Revolution, everything was personalised and bespoke and you dealt with the maker of the product or service directly. The relationship was baked into the process of the transaction.

During the disruption of the Industrial Revolution and subsequent decades, the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services were standardised and anonymised. Perhaps 20% of the product or the experience could be customised, but the core product remained the same for everyone.

We are now in the era of hyper-personalisation, pairing both the bespoke experience with a huge scale. This has been powered by technology advances and marketers who keep raising the bar in pursuit of the hearts, minds and wallets of our customers.

‘Personalisation wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff everyone else sees.

No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behaviour as the most important clue about what people want and more importantly, what they need.’
—Seth Godin

Three questions brands should be asking themselves today

The presentation covered a lot of ground, but these are the three questions that have crystallised in my mind.

1. What would your brand-as-a-curator look like?

Most of us are familiar with the paradox of choice: the more choice we have, the harder it is to choose anything. There is a paralysis that sets in when we’re faced with the 'endless aisle’, whether that’s a grocery store with 45,000 SKUs or a website with 1,000 different dresses.

Customers want fewer, more relevant options. It’s time for brands to become curators.

The data you’re collecting is what drives this opportunity. Based on my preferences as well as my previous buying behaviour, show me what I like, want and need, and I’ll be more likely to make a quick purchase.

Including recommendations based on what similar people purchased is another example of curating based on data.

The caveat here is that we don’t want to create an echo chamber or remove options entirely. Bring your curated items to the top of the experience but offer a discovery or explore feature that customers can interact with to find something new.

2. How are you going to bridge the gap from online-to-offline (O2O)?

Regardless of whether you’re a B2B or a B2C business, we all have to address O2O. We’ve been talking about omnichannel marketing and experiences for years, but it’s time to make it a reality for your brand.

In 2018, Nike opened a concept store in Los Angeles powered by data and technology that provides a personalised experience for their customers, for example:

  • The store stocks and displays the products that people in that zip code buy the most
  • Customers can use Nike apps to interact with products in the store to find more information about them and their stock levels
  • The store allows customers to reserve products online that they want to try. Once at the store, customers scan a barcode to open lockers with the product set aside - no retail assistant or waiting required.
  • Customers who are in a rush can 'text and collect’ their purchases at the curb

It’s time for all of us to look at the entire experience of our customers and find ways to make their interactions both on and offline with us as meaningful and personal as possible.

3. How can the Internet of Things (IoT) create personalisation opportunities?

When people hear ‘personalisation', it’s easy to think at a micro level, ie. changing the content of a website based on previous interactions. But the IoT can unlock opportunities at a macro level.

The example cited in the presentation had to do with warehouse management systems powered by IoT.

  • By using sensors, beacons and RFID tags on products, you know what stock you have, where it is and how long it will take to get to a store or a customer.
  • You can monitor the stock in store and modify the price and promotions based on customer demand or the need to shift stock for what’s coming next.
  • Integrating your inventory management system with your website means that you can dynamically change what’s displayed based on seasonal and even regional trends.
  • The cycle drives relevance for customers who are seeing what they need when they need it.

With customers today expecting real-time availability, next day delivery and updates throughout, it’s clear to see how IoT linking the elements of the supply chain can benefit both brands and their customers.

Answering these questions for your brand will help you keep up and maybe even pull ahead of the competition.

If you would like to discuss these questions and what they mean for your brand, we are happy to arrange a chat. Contact us on 0208 070 7820 or email

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?



02 May 2019 - 5 minute read
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