Why personalisation is more complicated than you think

Last month, I talked about building magic moments in your customer’s journey – the key to bridging the gap between digital customer experience and the bottom line of your business. If you’re looking for ways to draw out measurable ROI from your marketing strategy, mapping your customer journey in terms of key moments is the way to success.

But once you have this map, what is the next step? How can you as a brand actually spark magic for an individual inside these key touchpoints? And as a business, how do you implement this magic at scale?

Scaling magic might sound a bit paradoxical (building workflows around an immeasurable force – what is this madness?) but it’s possible. Magic for your customers is simply an emotional connection with the offer you’re presenting, and if you can establish this connection with the right message, your conversion rates will soar.

This is the difference between mass personalisation (think about the classic, ‘Hi [first name] did you know that…’ email template) and real personalisation. The latter isn’t just about delivering a relevant copy line at the right time (like offering 25 per cent off hotel in an email before you know they’re going on holiday). Real personalisation is about invoking a positive emotional reaction from your customer when you’re interacting with them in key moments.

Do this, and he or she will be more likely to act on the interaction. This is a discovery that was recently made by Mastercard, in an attempt to bring the entire organisation on board with digital transformation. A recent study by Forrester found that ‘MasterCard realised that consumers want offers to be more than just personal, relevant, and timely. By tapping data and crafting content that elicited emotional sparks, the firm increased its campaign transaction volumes by 25 per cent compared with traditional marketing campaigns.’ An increased conversion rate of 25 per cent might sound like a dream, but it’s possible with the right strategy.

So, how?

1. Intention over assumptions

A key element in Mastercard’s achievement was creating a clear connection between data insights and content creation. A data-driven approach to content creation will ensure that your brand interactions speak confidently to the intent of your target customer; being sure of your customer’s intent within those crucial moments will increase the likelihood of conversion.

Don’t make assumptions about what your audience wants, take the time to analyse their intentions behind each touchpoint with your brand. Once this is clear, empower your team with information about audience behavioural trends, social media movements and trending conversation topics. Empowering your content and social team with concrete data insights about your target audience will ensure that there is purpose behind content, and ensure a genuine emotional connection.

2. Value over reach

The onset of digital has put all potential customers at the centre of their own universe. We live in a new realm of consumerism where we’re comfortable with surrendering tiny rays of privacy in exchange for more convenience, relevance and above all, value. We are the epicentre of our own digital world, and we have full control over the channels that we’re plugged into. What’s more, if we don’t get value in return for our investments, we feel slighted, sometimes even mildly infuriated.

Capturing a person’s attention within this world is extremely rare, holding their attention is all but impossible. Brands should be aware of how precious these moments of attention are, and invest resources into ensuring these moment aren’t wasted. A carefully tailored campaign for a specific audience segment will lead to a higher customer lifetime value for the individuals that do engage, and this is far more valuable than a campaign designed for virality. Deliver value for your customers, do not design for more views.

In their winning campaign, Mastercard used data and analytics to uncover the most meaningful Mother’s Day message for their audience. Its data and analytics engine uncovered what Mother’s Day meant to its audience: the feeling of gratitude toward one's mother. It then produced campaign content based on this emotional tag: no special offers.

3. Scalability

Nailing the how behind personalisation is one thing, but how do you apply this level of nuance to every potential customer, across all of your marketing channels? The answer is by using the right marketing technology.

Facebook recently recognised that delivering truly personalised marketing at scale is the next natural step in the evolution of marketing. It identified some key technology vendors who can prove real results for big brands in the area, and awarded them in the recent Facebook Innovation Spotlight. The program seeks to shine the light on technology that offers both tangible data on the behavioural trends of a brand's audience, and the ability to act on this knowledge with global campaigns targeting millions of people. Amongst the winners, was Falcon.io.

The right technology should allow a marketing team to identify key audience segments easily, by grouping individuals based on common trends and interests. It should also make it easy to target these people with the right content, creating a clear connection between the data analysts and the content marketers. If you can centralise both data and workflows with the same platform, you’ll be arming your team with everything they need for success.

Rethink your approach to personalisation: don’t just try to be timely and relevant, this isn’t enough to attract today’s content saturated audiences. Be meaningful, create value and in doing so, provoke an emotional connection from the individual you are speaking to as a brand.

Manita Dosanjh is PR and communications executive at Falcon IO