Personalisation is another one of the hot topics in the world of marketing at the moment, but it’s actually a fairly simple concept and one that has been around for decades.

Personalisation simply refers to the focusing and tailoring of your interactions with an individual, based on what you know about them. The key factor here is ‘relevancy’. Making sure you are being relevant ranges from something as basic as using (the correct!) customer’s name in an email, right through to tailoring your content pages, to reflect an individual’s browsing activity and/or demographics.

According to a recent report by Econsultancy 62 per cent of brands are currently personalising their marketing. Of course, this number doesn’t divulge to what level the majority of those brands are personalising their comms, but it is still a fairly high majority.

While getting your personalisation right is by no means an easy task, it is probably more straightforward than you might think – especially if you break it down into manageable steps and don’t over complicate things. With this in mind we have created four key steps to help personalise your digital marketing:

1) Think about context:

Start with your business needs (e.g. lifecycle programmes, sales conversion) and establish the benefit it will provide to the customer (e.g. better brand experience, relevant offers, reminders). This is pretty fundamental and should be considered whenever personalisation is discussed.

From there you need to:

  • Define the KPIs and metrics which will prove ROI – how will you know if the investment in personalisation has worked or indeed is the right (or best) thing to do to meet your business objective?
  • Identify what data and insights are required to drive personalisation rules
  • Decide whether you have the content assets available to personalise interactions
  • Check that you have the right tools and people to action these changes

2) Get your data right – know your customer:

Any application of personalisation will only be as successful as the data and insight behind it. Make sure you have as accurate data as possible. Does your data tell you the following?

Who they are?

  • Gender
  • Identity
  • Age
  • Family
  • Affluence
  • Segment

What do/could they mean to you?

  • Segmentation eg RFM/RFV
  • Actual or potential lifetime value
  • Propensity scores eg relevancy of the offer

How much they have previously engaged with you?

  • Content usage
  • Behaviour
  • Preferences
  • Channel or device usage
  • Stage in lifecycle/journey
  • Transactional history
  • Active customer
  • Purchase volume

Utilising a central data management system is key to successful personalisation, but it is a complicated task. This is where Single Customer View (read this white paper for more) and traditional customer databases collide with digital data management. Get each of these elements in the best shape possible before trying to integrate them into a ’Single Digital View of the Customer’.

3) Get the right insight and decisions

Define analytical requirements based on your business requirements to ensure you are able to see what’s happening, what’s working and what isn’t. Your technological capabilities need to ensure you have the right insight, at the right time to drive deployment in the right channel.

Ideally this should be a central single source of the truth, but in reality a good step forward is to have consistent customer insight by channel.
The importance of defining your audience should not be ignored. No amount of personalisation
with content or copy will work if the offer is of
no interest or relevance to that customer.

Once the right people have been identified for the right proposition, you then need to work on the content and assets which will enable you to personalise the content and messaging to enhance your customers’ experiences and conversion rates.

4) Get the right deployment software AND people in place

Admittedly, the ‘Holy Grail’ here would be one piece of software that manages ALL content, data, decision and deployment channels. However, the reality is that we are not there yet and, in truth, it’s highly unlikely that one vendor would ever be able to offer the best solution across all channels.

The best way forward is to choose the right solutions that achieve the required goals (see stage 1) and then focus on the internal people and skills required to not only manage and use each tool, but to do it consistently across channels. A key step is automation – creating rules that populate and manage customer interactions without manual intervention should be a priority. In email, this means lifecycle and event driven campaigns as well as developing rules to manage dynamic personalised content (within template emails) for all relevant non-automated campaigns, consistent with website experience.

Make sure you get it right

There are dangers out there. Being too personal or delivering the wrong message to the wrong person will damage the customer’s experience and their opinion of your brand. Remember it’s all about customer experience, our aim here is to deliver better, more relevant interactions.

So be realistic and ensure you are working within your capabilities. Start with easier and higher return initiatives and prove the worth of personalisation. Once you have these foundations you should develop, upgrade and test. And, above all, don’t get caught standing still. If one thing is for sure when it comes to interacting with customers in the digital world, it’s that things will continue to evolve, and they can change quickly – so don’t get caught napping.

UPDATE – Marie will be presenting on this topic at Marketing Week Live on April 29 -30 at Olympia National, London.

Register here:

Experian Marketing Services is the leading global provider of consumer insights, targeting, data quality and cross-channel marketing. We help organisations intelligently interact with today’s empowered and hyper-connected consumers.

By helping marketers identify best customers, find more, and then coordinate seamless and intelligent interactions across the most appropriate channels, Experian Marketing Services can deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.