About the technology: why personalization is harder with one-size-fits-all solutions.

Published on May 26, 2020

Personalization in marketing has been an attractive yet somewhat elusive grail for years. Since the very first personally addressed bulk email caused huge ripples in the marketing community, brands have been striving to win the race to consumers’ hearts and minds through increasingly deeper levels of engagement.

Gartner predicts that 80% of marketing firms will abandon personalization efforts by 2025, but not because it doesn’t work. Quite the contrary, it’s due to the complexities of managing data to effectively produce the desired results. For this reason alone, building a personalization engine in-house is not an option for most brands. Knowing that personalization is so vital today, many brands seek easy, out-of-the-box and therefore more predictable methods to draw in consumers. However, the net result of taking a half measure into personalization is that you don’t create the deeply tailored experience consumers want. Personalization is about more than just addressing customers directly, it’s about acknowledging them with a message that resonates to each individual and guides them along a tailor-made user experience that considers their history, preferences and needs.

Mistakes in the industry have led to famous follies from major consumer brands. However, when properly implemented, personalization enables a truly unique experience - it draws customers in by creating moments that feel magical. And, it’s what goes on behind the scenes that makes personalized marketing work seamlessly, requiring robust data science, analysis and digital technology that can be customized to meet the needs of your specific business.

Can personalization create magic?

Short answer – absolutely. A survey from Infosys shows that over 85% of consumers are influenced by personalized marketing efforts.

Amazon is a great example of successful personalization. This is a business that collects enormous volumes of customer data and utilizes machine learning to personalize each person’s home page. Features like the "customers who bought this item also bought" and "frequently bought together" categories enable Amazon to create a fully tailored experience that feels like magic for the end-user. The results speak for themselves – 44% of customers buy from these customized recommendations.

Netflix is another example of a brand that wields marketing personalization with skill. Everything it does is supercharged with data and smart AI. Each user’s account is programmed to show content they are likely to find interesting or enjoyable based on previous viewing behavior. The powerful Netflix recommendation engine uses a selection of viewing data, search history and ratings to create unique homepages for users. Even each film cover is personalized so that the actor featured on the cover is someone the user is likely to recognize. And the result is that this trail-blazing streaming service consistently sees a revenue increase year-on-year.

GrubHub is another business that successfully uses personalization, harnessing its customer and contextual data to power its recommendation engine. The more a consumer orders from GrubHub, the more it learns about their tastes and preferences to create a unique taste profile, which enables it to provide recommendations from its 4,000 dish taxonomy.

Technology gaps – a roadblock to effective personalization

Personalization can be challenging to get right for a variety of reasons, one of the primaries being an inability to properly utilize customer data, which can be overwhelming in its magnitude, variety and quality. Knowing how to mobilize and make sense of this information requires a skilled data science team; not something many brands have the luxury of. Indeed, while marketing teams want to harness their customer data to create truly relevant, personal interactions with customers, only 18% are very confident in their ability to successfully execute personalization.

A range of challenges from not having the right internal resources and a complete view of the consumer to outdated technology that’s not well-optimized for mobile causes marketers to struggle to perfect smart segmentation and personalization, or indeed uncover insights from consumer inclination and behavior.

While some brands can interpret data and learn something about their customers, not all are able to compile a fulsome picture of their customer base. Without the right technology, information gathered about consumer preferences and behavior can create a chaotic picture. And ultimately, this makes execution of a personalized marketing campaign virtually impossible.

Getting it right

Technology is the key enabler of personalization, but as we have discussed previously, it must be underpinned by the right strategy, people and processes. The tech required to execute personalization ranges from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to data science to analytics and marketing automation, and all must work together for a personalization marketing campaign to be successful. If these systems are disparate, this is where accidents like mistaken emails or misinterpreted data occur.

Dynamic and relevant content is the foundation of personalization. The datasets needed to deliver this are developed with machines that analyze data from a range of internal and external sources to create offers and messaging tailored to the individual.

This is why it is best to partner with a company like Plexure, which has a team of strategy experts, data scientists, marketing consultants and the technology to deliver personalization.

Can you really achieve personalization with one-size-fits-all solutions?

While there is a growing number of marketing automation vendors with a range of capabilities and functionality, many are one-size-fits-all (OSFA) solutions. Considering all the crucial elements of an effective personalized marketing strategy, the idea of executing this with an OSFA technology solution is rather ironic.

A solution like Plexure’s evaluates all kinds of data, both structured and unstructured and from multiple sources to extrapolate valuable insights and patterns. It can seamlessly integrate into your existing tech stack to add value to core business processes with the purpose of enabling you to craft smart and consistent marketing campaigns across every stage of your customer lifecycle. Putting the personal into personalization is as much about tailoring to your business as it is tailoring to your customers.

The other things to consider when looking for a personalization partner is ongoing support. Technology may be easy to buy but getting the most out of it often requires a helping hand. The support required will vary from brand to brand, which is where managed service engagements can be a huge benefit. Similarly, partners with a team of data scientists to solve complex business challenges can be incredibly important, as is equally a 24/7 support desk where there is a real person on hand to help. But, with the proper technology, help and support, personalization can be executed extremely smoothly and produce incredible results. And these are all things you’ll get with Plexure.

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