This is not a commentary on the use of car sharing apps and how they seem to know exactly where I am and what I need, but more of a focus on how we drive highly sophisticated messaging to our customers in way that delivers the most relevant offers and content, specific for that individual.
What is personalisation and uber [extreme/hyper] personalisation?
At its simplest, personalisation may involve salutations from “Dear Customer” to “Dear Andy”. We’ve been doing that for years and no longer see that as particularly sophisticated, however you might be surprised to learn how many people still don’t do this yet!
More often than not, it will involve tailoring messages, communications, offers or content to meet the particular marketing segments they operate in. This level of sophistication gives us the opportunity to evaluate different profiles and offers to see what works and what doesn’t.
Uber extreme personalisation takes this concept to the next level, creating a highly individualised message from all of the information we know and understand about the recipient. In short, we create communications that often unique to the individual.
We do this because in today’s highly connected, information-centric world, our customers expect us to know exactly who they are; they expect us to understand how they interact with us and how we have interacted with them; they expect us to be able to recognise them and acknowledge them in a way that demonstrates this, AND they expect us to understand how they interact with us on their mobile, their tablet or desktop computer.
They do not expect to be treated like anyone else, let alone in the same way as all of the other mid-value, recent purchasers. We create the segment of one.
How do we make it happen?
By bringing together data we gather on our customers, from every touchpoint, transaction, system and silo we create a full 360-degree view of the customer. Data is sourced from their account behaviour, web activity, retail, CRM and call centre systems – everywhere that has customer data that can be used to define the customer’s relationship with us.
We use this to identify the most common levers on which we want to base our personalisation.
We analyse and develop scoring models or segments that assist us in defining not only the basic inclusion into a certain marketing activity, but also the pool of offers/marketing messages which are applicable. We use this to determine which order those offers should be presented in. We identify whether we should provide the same number of offers as everyone else and whether imagery and messaging should be tailored differently.
Pulling all of this information together enables us to direct our target communications platform, such as IBM Marketing Cloud, to gather the appropriate content, per block, per customer, to create the most appropriate message for that individual.
What are the numbers?
How many customers do you have? That’s the maximum number!
More realistically, look at one of your emails. How many blocks of content do you have for marketing offers? How many offers do you have for each block?
As a simple example, five email content blocks with two permutations each gives us 32 variations of content (25), five permutations for each block gives us 3,125 variations (55) etc. Scale this up to modern offer and content management systems and we hit many millions of permutations very quickly.
What are the challenges?
Data: bringing it all together in a coherent way is incredibly difficult for the uninitiated. It’s not uncommon for an organisation to have many different touchpoint and information mastering systems. So, creating the complete view of the customer to ensure that relevant information is not missed is critical.
Analysis: it’s great to create all of these unique versions and we can certainly track who received what. The next stage is to analyse and interpret the results, it’s impossible to make definitive interpretations of our creative “segment of one” (it’s either 100% successful or 100% not!). Our focus moves towards trends in offer acceptance across segments.
Content: with extreme personalisation we raise the bar on customer expectations. Delivering the same content, week in and week out, rapidly makes our communications look tired and will lose the impact that we started out with. We have to define and manage new and compelling content that keeps our communications fresh and relevant.
Creative: we need to ensure that our messages look good as well as being compelling and relevant, what happens to your beautifully designed email templates when someone has one content blocks or five content blocks. Do you create white space?
Uber personalisation, when done well, gives us the opportunity to demonstrate to our customers that we really understand them, that we appreciate their needs and have the right products and services to meet their unique situation.
It builds the personal relationship that the customer has with us and broadens the opportunity to test and present our offers in different ways. It’s the least our customers expect nowadays, meaning it’s no longer an option, but an absolute necessity.
Written by Andy Addison
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