Don’t Succumb to Personalization Paralysis
by Mike Shaw, Sitecore
As you’re no doubt aware, marketing isn’t a discipline that stands still. As people and their priorities change, so does the way we advertise products and services. 20 years ago, marketing was all about driving visitors to your static websites through email segmentation.
The emergence of digital marketing led to the reinvention of segmentation and completely changed the way we use technology for marketing – forever. In a blink of an eye, segmentation has become completely normal and digital marketing is now simply called ‘marketing’. It just happens.
Today, a big challenge facing marketing is personalization. This ideal takes the marketing concepts of the last 20 years and goes significantly deeper, building experiences that transcend segments and speak to individuals. For personalization to progress and become just ‘marketing’, the industry needs to recognize that everyone is different, and dislikes being categorized in general terms. This consumer demand is why 84% of the industry believes personalization will become an important component of their overall marketing strategy and provide a competitive advantage.
While this endeavor is daunting, I believe that intent matters more than anything else. Changing from static marketing to segmented marketing took time, just as adapting to personalization isn’t something you need to force. If you come at personalization from a positive angle — something you want to do instead of something you have to do — the results are obvious.
Today’s mad ideas are tomorrow’s case studies
In the 1950s-60s, marketing was all about the billboard. Marketers had the opportunity to grab the attention of their target audience in one location, which was a particular challenge for any business targeting multiple industry segments.
Then, radio and TV advertising started to become a possibility. Suddenly, marketers had the ability to provide more information or cater to specific sectors through different adverts for different channels. They could craft unique messages to different segments based on who they knew watched or listened at a specific time. As technology has progressed, the sheer diversity of marketing channels that are available has exploded.
Personalization is increasing the possibilities in the same way TV advertising once did, now with greater ability to identify individual desires and cater to them. Today, the increase in personal data makes it possible to personalize marketing messages for the individual. You’re probably already doing this at a base level, with device and location information and other default data being considered. But this is just the start of what is possible. Those brave enough to put trust in their data, take the plunge, and push the boundaries of what’s possible will get a head start in the process.
The world keeps moving
Because technology is always advancing and new possibilities are presenting themselves, the idea that personalization is a simple checkbox activity is misleading. Personalization in marketing and experiences is a sliding scale, becoming more and more potent as the amount of data, as well as the technology to decipher it, becomes more abundant.
The simple truth is that personalization is a mindset that can never be perfect because it’s always changing. We market to people, and people are always changing their interests, so our marketing must change to allow for more personalized messages. Personalization is full of opportunities – it’s time to jump in.
“Customer needs are changing at a very rapid pace, and the opportunities for personalization are significant. With a clear view of the customer, you can transform your marketing and deliver even better experiences.” Corinne Sklar, CMO, IBMiX
There are numerous advantages of personalization, but no one said it was easy. Roughly 34% of respondents described themselves as ‘novices or beginners’ in personalization, which is no surprise when faced with barriers including executive support (34%), budget (41%) and access (35%). Having a successful personalized marketing strategy in place can be a game-changer. If you’re not yet personalizing – it’s ok – you just need to start somewhere. Look at the data you have and try to provide the very best experience based on that.
This is where the case studies of tomorrow will come from. Creating a vision of what you would like to do, if only you had the technology and the data to do it, is nice for future planning. But today’s marketing requires getting the most out of what we have at our fingertips.
Personalization really doesn’t need to be scary, or some alien concept that you should be doing, right this instant. Don’t panic, start steady, and get comfortable. You’ll be much better for it.
About the Author: Mike leads the charge for championing excellent customer experiences in order to impact business results for Sitecore customers. Before joining Sitecore, Mike worked extensively with Sitecore implementing best practice personalization and contextual marketing techniques for a wide range of industries and companies.