Digital marketing personalisation and what it means for marketers?

Personalisation is one of those buzz words in digital marketing, usually requested by clients without a true understanding of what they mean. It started with email marketing professionals who realised that sending out the same message to everyone didn’t really work as we all added their messages to our spam box. 

This has now developed into any system that allows the retailer to communicate with a group or individual in a tailored way. Personalisation hasn’t yet reached the point where an automated system can truly tailor its response to each and every customer however it can appear that way sometimes.

Personalisation is usually aimed at the retail market but can be applied across a variety of markets including News, Travel and Entertainment. These techniques apply to any market where consumers make repeat purchases from a variety of products or services on offer.

From an agency point of view it means a whole range of functionality from automated emails, through to augmented reality and more. There are a number of providers out there including Peerius, ClickTale etc and some ecommerce/CMS platforms have certain levels of personalisation built in such as SiteCore however these all need to be tailored to the requirements of the client, interacting with business systems and manual processes.

So what is currently covered by personalisation?

Email marketing

Tends to be automated and includes re-marketing to consumers based on rules such as an abandoning a basket or if they have a birthday coming up.

Browser tracking (IP)

Geo-targetting content to different sectors allows clients to make specific offerings to certain customer groups. An airline, for example, will want to show flights from your local airport first as you are more likely to want to fly from closer to home.

Big Data (customer knowledge)

By collating data about customers, trends can lead to personal messages and can be timed to meet client’s needs. A great example is of this is a large US grocery store that promoted baby products to a customer based on their purchases before the customer was aware that they were pregnant!

Behaviour Tracking (Heat maps)

By understanding how consumers navigate around a site by tracking the mouse point or finger swipe it is possible to customise the site to specific customers’ habits and optimise the site in terms of promotions and merchandising.

Cross device tracking

By following consumers who are logged into Google+ or Microsoft Explorer for example, it is becoming possible to see how consumers use various devices and optimise the journey towards purchase. Universal logins will ultimately tag us all and allow ‘Minority Report’ style advertising to be aimed at us by brands. There is a move away from Cookies towards this technique as consumers are increasingly concerned about advertisers monitoring their behaviour even when they request not to be followed.

Omni-channel communications

By keeping brand messages consistent and relevant to the channel they allow brands to communicate with consumers no matter where they are. By tailoring the message to the channel it stops the message becoming bland and instead engages with consumers on a new level. A good example is Felix cat food and a campaign for the cleverest cat. The campaign ran in-store and on the product, via Facebook where consumers were incentivised to enter pictures and videos of their own felines. Results were then aired on TV where the best entries were aired in the advert break during ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.

Online Chat

A simple but effective way of engaging with a consumer during the decision making process. Live chat, rather than a bot will deliver the best experience for the consumer and increase conversion rates. These calls can be logged and linked to other marketing communications building a larger picture of the consumer’s multi-channel interactions.

Social media Bots

These clever systems listen out for keywords and phrases on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook. Auto responseswhich provide more information like promotions and offers are initially a pleasant surprise to consumers and actively incentivise consumers to share their thoughts and feelings about brands leading to organic marketing and increased sales. Potential dangers include when comments are either negative or not relative to the brand. 

Augmented reality (fitting rooms)

By using supplied measurements or X-box style body scanners, consumers can virtually map themselves and allow the retailer to provide a personal shopper experience by only presenting garments that will actually fit the consumer. Other examples include paper wrist bands which visualise watches using a web cam or allow you to try on virtual jewellery.

Real live sales/customer service engagements

All too often missed off the list however for most retailers they are the key ingredient in helping customers at some point and generally link the in-store experience with online. Even a company like Amazon relies on humans to make sure the systems are running properly and that as a last resort they can make an informed decision based on all the collected data.

In conclusion there are many areas of digital marketing that can be personalised and ideally every channel will be personalised to consumers needs for maximum message recognition. Automated tools can help achieve this nirvana however at the end of the day people like people and are more likely to engage with a human than a machine.


About the Author

John Williams avatar

John Williams, Sales and Marketing

John was once a client who joined the Gibe team for several years to help us with sales and marketing. He left Gibe to return to the world of freelance marketing and is once again a wonderful client for Gibe.