The promise of personalisation

Everyone likes to feel seen – that’s the power of personalisation. So, why is it so difficult to master? TRACK Aotearoa Managing Director, Andy Bell unpacks the most frequently made mistakes and what we can learn from them.

Personalisation is a hot topic in the marketing industry with its fair share of promoters and detractors. Done right it creates a positive exchange between brand and customer that increases the value of the relationship. Done poorly it has the potential to damage customer relationships and even drive churn. 

Why then does personalisation, a key tool that can have such a significant impact on a brand, remain something of an enigma?

TRACK recently commissioned a global study from Forrester Consultancy, a part of specialist research firm Forrester Research, aimed at understanding the current state of personalisation across global markets together with the best practices of the most advanced marketing firms. 

The results revealed that while customer-led personalisation is the goal for almost all the respondents, the reality is that very few are achieving it. Instead, many firms are struggling to truly shift to a customer-centric mentality and to dedicate the right resources needed to understand their customers and deliver personalised experiences at scale. 

So, where are we going wrong and what can we learn from companies and brands that have cracked the personalisation code? Because yes, it can and should be done. 

Let’s start by learning from the common mistakes being made:

1. Personalisation is assessed in silo 

There is a tendency to assess personalisation as a marketing strategy in silo, but this totally misunderstands its promise. It is not something you do instead of mass communications. And it is certainly not an alternative to the creative storytelling and reach that mass communications deliver.
Instead, it should be seen as something that adds leverage across many sectors to the investment made in mass brand building. For brands, the promise of personalisation is to deliver incremental growth through tactics that increase the lifetime value (LTV) of the customer. 

According to the Forrester study, marketers here and abroad are leaving money on the table when it comes to personalisation. Almost three quarters (67 percent) of respondents surveyed said revenue growth was a priority but the study found that firms who were more advanced in their personalisation journey were nearly twice as likely to experience double digit revenue growth versus their low maturity counterparts.

2. Confusing the means with the end

Talk with marketers about personalisation and the conversation will inevitably turn toward data and technology. It is true that these are key ingredients in the delivery of meaningful personalisation. But much of the use of these tools is simply mass communications via individually addressable channels – and that is not personalisation.  

It’s also an area where many personalisation efforts stall. More than three quarters (85 percent) of respondents surveyed in the Forrester global study, commissioned by TRACK, stated that it was challenging to deliver personalisation consistently across all touchpoints; while data, whether that’s too much or too little, was cited as another key challenge by almost half of respondents (42 percent and 44 percent respectively). So, when it comes to utilising data for personalisation it appears the goldilocks principal is alive and well.

3. Not thinking about personalisation from a customer experience standpoint

Personalisation happens in context – specifically the context of the customer’s journey. Technology and data are critical to identifying the individual customer, predicting the moment they are in and reaching them. They are about precision. But personalisation requires more – that precision needs to be balanced with empathy. For customers the promise of personalisation is to provide an experience which enables them to complete a task more easily, removes cognitive load, is more relevant or timely, or provides them with more control. How often do we ask what customer-need personalisation is meeting at a particular point in the journey? Or having asked that, which channels make the most sense to deliver this experience (versus defaulting to email or app)? 

The most advanced firms in the TRACK- commissioned Forrester study are consistently delivering personalised experiences at every stage of the customer journey.

They are also far more likely to be using customer-focused metrics like LTV and CSAT, in addition to business metrics, to quantify the success of their personalisation efforts. 

The real promise of personalisation is to deliver brands incremental growth and at the same time, better meet the needs of their customers in key moments. Our Forrester research shows incremental benefits accruing from efforts to improve personalisation, and that these benefits multiply as personalisation practice matures. It also highlights why the majority of brands are not fully realising the promise of personalisation. 

Still more concerning is that their customers are not experiencing the benefits that personalisation promises them. Personalisation done right has so much untapped potential. While getting it right is not easy, realising its promise requires us to be more ambitious on our customers’ behalf and more willing to do the mahi to make it work.

To find out more about the Forrester Consulting personalisation study commissioned by TRACK in May 2022, contact Rob Limb at [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *