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Consistent, dynamic, relevant: how to kickstart your digital personalisation programme

By Leona Bell, Head of Data



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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February 17, 2020 | 6 min read

Despite being the industry buzzword for more than a few years now and being acknowledged by most organisations as the gateway to great customer experience, personalisation is yet to be broadly adopted beyond the retail sector. There’s no point pretending that personalisation is an easy win - it takes a clear strategy and consistent effort over time to implement it effectively - which is probably why it’s taken so long for most organisations to adopt the approach. If you’ve decided that 2020 is the year that you’re (finally) going to kickstart your personalisation process, here’s what you need to know.

Woman sitting on sofa

A guide to good digital personalisation

Good personalisation uses a visitor’s previous, current and predicted behaviour to deliver a more customer-centric experience that increases loyalty, conversions and revenue. Well implemented personalisation is:

  • Consistent: the experience and messaging are consistent whatever the platform or channel and regardless of whether the communication is online (e.g. websites, social media or display ads) or offline (more traditional methods such as radio, TV and print.)
  • Dynamic: the visitor’s behaviour influences what content they’re exposed to. Tracking users’ online behaviour provides valuable clues about their interests and the type of content they like which can then be used to personalise landing pages or other content on your site.
  • Relevant: each visitor’s experience is tailored to their specific context. Effective personalisation relies on both broad segmentation data, like gender, as well as granular data like age bracket, location and interests to inform the user experience. But just because you may have access to a lot of data about your visitor, doesn’t mean you should personalise to every single data point. Using information that isn’t relevant in your personalisation can come across as invasive, even creepy, and will likely result in the opposite experience to what you’re trying to achieve.

An example of good personalisation in practice can be seen in the landing page below from Very. Using cookies, Very has identified that this user is a returning customer, prompting a personalised greeting on the home page. They’ve also used her geolocation to identify where she is and have combined this with local weather information to recommend appropriate clothing and copy that refers to the cold and rainy conditions. The entire landing page has been personalised to this visitor without even requiring a sign-in!

Very screenshot

The barriers to adoption

Many organisations have been slow to adopt this level of personalisation, quite often because of internal business constraints such as:

  • A lack of knowledge and strategy – digital personalisation should form part of your customer experience and marketing strategy, but it requires specialist skills and knowledge which aren’t always inherent in the teams that are tasked with implementation.
  • A lack of resource – even if your team has the knowledge and skills, they often don’t have the time. Personalisation is seldom looked after by a dedicated team and is normally just one of the responsibilities of a marketing department which may have other priorities and no capacity to take on the additional work.
  • Poorly implemented tools – personalisation relies on structured data that comes from a variety of different sources. If your CRM, web analytics, business intelligence tools and other data sources don’t integrate well it will be difficult to create a complete funnel of information to inform your personalisation plan.
  • No process for testing success – once you’ve started implementing your digital personalisation programme you need to be able to test whether it’s working. This could require detailed research and analytics to understand what has influenced different individuals’ behaviour.

These barriers can prevent organisations from starting the process, gaining momentum and proving the value of personalisation.

Tips for getting started

While starting out with personalisation can be daunting, it can be implemented in stages as your team learns and grows. Start with a simple strategy that outlines what you’re trying to achieve, how and when you’re going to deliver it and what data you’ll use to inform your tactics. Your first attempt doesn’t need to involve purchases of large-scale enterprise solutions and complicated contact strategies – start by crawling and work your way up to a run.

  • Crawl – with a little bit of effort and relatively low cost you can still deliver good results. Get started by using basic user information like geolocation to serve up appropriate content – this could be based on anything from local services to the weather information or regional sports teams.
  • Walk – this requires more content and data but delivers a higher impact. Use the information you know about visitors from their previous visit to improve their next one – like personalising their landing experience based on the content they viewed last time.
  • Run – with more time and a higher level of complexity you can deliver high impact personalisation by putting everything you know about a visitor together to communicate with them across all your channels.

By building increasing complexity into your plan as you become more confident, you’ll also deliver a constantly improving visitor experience that will keep your customers coming back.

To find out more, including a step-by-step process to getting started on your personalisation journey, watch the full webinar here.

Leona Bell, head of data & analytics, ORM


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