Let’s Get Personal

Personalization, and its offspring dynamic content, will celebrate its 18th birthday this year.  The thought was, and is, that people would respond better to a marketing message based on relevance, which is in turn driven by some understanding of personal nuances about that person’s interests or unfulfilled wants.  Looking back, this appears to be a promise largely unfulfilled.

Although this became technically feasible on Day 1 with the ad technology platforms, very few brands have taken the time to offer differential messaging and dynamic offers.  When I poll most friends, they usually acknowledge Amazon and its recommendation engine as getting it right.  I believe they do an amazing job of using current purchase behavior to recommend downstream purchases.  Some claim that up to 30% of Amazon sales come from this engine.

But for every Amazon, I continue to sort through so many static and impersonal offers, hitting me via mail, email, digital banners, and loyalty programs.  I rarely now click on these, and worst still, can not think of a single product I have purchased.

Personalization will get serious when it can be undertaken near the time of intention.  I really think the next wave of companies will focus on in-store mobile experience and real time ecommerce.  These are the customer touch points that count, and the only “real estate” left to exploit valued consumer interaction.   90% of consumers like to buy in a brick and mortar setting, and 50% of those welcome relevant offers delivered in-store.   This will be a complex problem to solve, involving decision science, CRM, GPS proximity marketing and tracking, and thick behavioral data sets that capture probable propensity to buy within the category before intention. 

In the end, as has always been the case, the consumer is king.  Whatever integrated solutions come forth, they will need to be anchored in aiding them. Intelligent couponing may be the next true medium.

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