What Does the Future of Personalisation Look Like?

Pamela Bath

ipaddataPersonalisation is like loyalty; everybody talks about it, but we all have a completely different take on what it truly means. The traditional model of personalisation is rooted in the corner shop model of the 1950s and 60s, when a customer could wander into her local grocery store and the shopkeeper would know her name, her family, what she last ordered and what her preferred brands were. But how has this model evolved, and what does the future look like for personalisation?

Social channels have a major role to play in terms of measuring the sentiment around how well personalisation is working; but we are still not seeing enough companies doing this, with some exceptions of major corporations with the money to fully invest in social. In the age of social, consumers are so much better informed about the companies trying to serve them; they can find out everything they need to know about a store before they even walk in. Brands must strengthen their social strategies to determine how they’re going to influence, interact and measure their consumer engagement.

And in terms of levels, the fact remains that consumers expect a certain level of personalisation, and where this often falls down is when brands don’t get the right information in the first place. We’ve seen a number of companies move away from personalising their campaigns, perhaps because they don’t want to seem intrusive, perhaps because they don’t want to get it wrong and can’t keep it up to date. But to me this is entirely counterproductive because that relationship can never evolve and your full sales potential won’t be reached.

No Magic Formula For Personalisation

But ultimately, there’s no magic formula; it all just comes back to good quality, direct marketing and effective relationship management. Whilst personalisation is still widely perceived as a digital area, it ultimately comes back to the basic human need to be recognised and valued. For brands, that means going out there and being the best they can as an organisation – and proving that they mean it when they say their customers are important to them.

It’s also our responsibility as marketers not to abuse the data we hold on our customers, but to share it back in a responsive and meaningful way. It goes back to the simple principles of hindsight, insight and foresight to move forward and build that relationship, and that’s why personalisation is the future of marketing.

It has to be, because inevitably there will come a point when customers are simply going to get fed up with being bombarded with too many emails and disconnect with any brands who aren’t listening to them; the power always sits with the consumer, and we would be wise to remember that.

Individual Needs

In my opinion, the major factor influencing the future success of personalisation is letting go of old fashioned segmentation. Personalisation is recognising the individual. We can’t carry on designing our marketing strategies around ABC anything or random anonymous email addresses. Can you really still say someone’s likelihood to buy is based on their income anymore? Not at all, but media owners and ‘above the liners’ are clinging on to it because they don’t know what to replace it with.

Segmentation is now dated because everyone falls into a different category depending on who they are on that day of the week. Consumers are multi-faceted in the way they buy and the relationships they want. So to give customers a personalised experience that works for them, we have to look at their experience and behaviours, and marketing technology is evolving to enable this.

So how will personalisation change over the next few decades?

Well ultimately, data protection and ad blocking could kill the entire concept; it will all go eventually, and what will brands do then? I’ll tell you what – go back to the corner shop model.

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