Personalization 101

It wasn’t that long ago that all marketing was personal. I remember following my mother into the grocery store or bank and everyone addressing her by name. I can also remember my father dropping a stack of targeted direct mail pieces on the kitchen table. With the dawn of email and websites a strange thing happened. Marketers began relying on mass marketing techniques that allowed the delivery of a single message across these new digital channels. This initial evolution of technology made personalized messages obsolete. Today, that’s not the case. We expect our websites to act intelligently and to maintain our privacy, just like the best sales people. Let’s take a look at the basics of personalization when developing personalized digital engagements.
For marketers, personalization is a strategy for delivering a customer experience that is personal, relevant and convenient. Technology for personalization enables this strategy by providing services like dynamic insertion, customization or suggestions of relevant content. The advancement and simplicity of technology today has made it easier than ever to provide a personalized digital experience. For companies implementing these technologies they can automate the discovery of key customer segments, generate retargeting campaigns, moving beyond the basics and providing a truly unified and personalized channel experience.  This includes email campaigns that allow the delivery of relevant messages targeted to a user’s behavior and situation, including location, purchase, history, time of day and even current weather conditions. Finally device optimized websites that deliver relevant context based user experiences across all digital touch points.

Personalization is the process of deciding within a large set what the highest value choice is to an individual. These choices can range from a customized home page look and feel, product recommendations, and banner advertisements to news content. As you can imagine personalization is a broad topic. At a more practical level personalization is an overloaded term. There are many mechanisms and approaches where content can be focused to a specific audience at an individual level. From a business standpoint personalization contributes to a variety of business goals as shown in the following table.

Business Goal Description
Increase site usability Limiting navigation options and providing direct links to personalized content automatically makes a site more navigable. This allows users to find the most desirable information and services quickly.
Replicate familiar experience Replicating familiar experiences is a key goal of personalization. Ideally personalization acts as a stand in for the friendly sales clerk. This is the person behind the counter who remembers you, suggests purchases and helps your solve problems.
Increased conversions and sales Consistent research has shown that converting browsers to buyers has a significant impact on site revenues. Personalization brings targeted, high value purchase opportunities directly to the user. By positioning desired content in front of a user, personalization increases the odds that a browser will become a buyer.
Retention As the internet matures and success becomes measured in traffic, retaining customers is crucial for a sites success. Personalization enhances a site’s stickiness. This means an increased likelihood that a customer will bookmark and return to your site. Customers return more frequently to sites where they receive value like personalized experiences.
Re-engagement Many times a customer will shop or consume information from a number of sites. Re-engagement is the process of reaching back out to a customer via email or other means to let them know you may have something that interests them. When these types of things are personalized the customer will learn to trust and interact with re-engagements attempts.
Increased loyalty Usable sites invariable attract more users, as word of mouth spreads about the site.
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Thomas Robbins

I spend my time working with partners and customers extending their marketing and technology to the fullest.