The concept of Personalization is now firmly ingrained in every marketer’s vernacular. From the simple ‘salutation,’ right through to more complex behavioral tracking for subsequent ‘predictive offers’.
But despite great inroads in Data and Technology capabilities that can drive relevant and personalized experiences, many brands are still falling short of reaching their true potential to connect with their customers.
In this article, we take a look at five common Personalization mistakes brands make, and how we can shift our mindset to see Personalization as a ‘product’ in order to connect with customers in more meaningful ways – at scale.
1. The merry-go-round of ‘use case’ and ‘purpose’
One of the key challenges many companies face today is struggling to understand what Personalization really means to their company. This creates a merry-go-round of diving into the ‘use case’ and the ‘purpose’ and inevitably, the brand always ends up at the same point.
It’s time we strip it all back. Forget about customization and individualization. Forget about the use case of Personalization and the ‘single customer view.’ Instead, in this era of unprecedented change, we can start thinking about Personalization as a Product.
So what does ‘Personalization as a product’ actually mean? It’s about taking an iterative approach to the delivery of various experiences to the market, via activating all channels with contextual relevancy. Getting it right means it enables you to scale, pivot and deliver more meaningful experiences to your customer while testing and learning faster than before.
2. Focusing on the definition opposed to the capability
The concept of Personalization is a lot more fun and glam as opposed to its hardcore capability. Coming up with concepts around ‘moments that matter’ is great! But it’s also expensive, time-consuming and has absolutely no relation to the capability that you have.
Feel free to define what it is to you – moments that matter, connected customer, the audience first – and even drop the money on shiny new branding and design. But these steps should not be done at the expense of ignoring your current Personalization capability and the future capability you require. ‘But what if I don’t know what capability is needed?’ Great question, that means you are….
3. Creating a use case opposed to a product
The biggest difference with seeing Personalization work is the mentality between seeing Personalization as a tactic and Personalization as a product. Feel stuck understanding which tactics define what Personalization is to your brand? Then, unfortunately, you’re going to go around in circles and struggle to expand it beyond that one tactic.
Looking at it from a different lens, a Product Manager’s role is to connect the customer with the product, regardless of delivery or channel. Their sole focus is to scale an experience. So, if you put your focus on treating Personalization as a product, then you:
- Build the foundations for scale – regardless of the use case.
- Stop caring about the tactics, because your baseline product is already enabled the organization.
- Enable the organization to take a collective stance on owning the tactic.
4. Focusing on details as opposed to the scale
But what about if a customer signs up, deletes the cart, then logs in six times and then the session ends? Personalization is about delivering contextual relevancy, not edge-case fringes of the experience. Experience should always be contextual to the recipient’s current actions, then heightened by the relevancy that the messaging exchange is providing.
Think, “I want to bring my product, which is Personalization, to market, regardless of the channel. I then want to be able to iterate on my product in a cycle of optimizations.” Now that’s called scale.
5. Putting the channel before the customer
In a customer-centric digital ecosystem, if you find yourself incessantly talking about channels, then you’re in the wrong conversation. Personalization when treated as a product, with capability and scale in mind, reduces the conversation about the channel to a conversation around the iteration or delivery.
This is because channel is just a given. When everyone knows that it is possible to achieve regardless of the channel. This shifts the conversation from ‘what about email and social,’ to ‘we have just delivered a next best product model to all the channels, and are testing with the site and email capability to then extend it to display and social – as we believe this will impact the customer the most’.
It all starts with a mindset shift and taking the tactical measures to bring the focus back to Personalization as a product. Because it’s only then when we can start to really focus on organizational enablement, to deliver context to a customer with the right brand communications. At the same time, we’re using data and technology capabilities to drive scale – regardless of the tactical iteration on the baseline product.
Where to start?
In summary, here’s a checklist of tips to help marketers start shifting towards a ‘Personalization as a product’ mindset:
- Integrate channels: Ensure that experience can be triggered from any entry point, e.g. If a customer start’s their journey from an email, start the experience there. If they come direct, then start the experience there.
- Don’t focus on purely defining what it means for your organization: Shift your focus to activating various Personalization products, as there is never one experience to rule them all.
- Focus on how that Personalization product will be delivered to the customer.
- Make sure that the use case can hit the masses to achieve the best result: If 5% of your audience are known on the APP, it will be hard to scale.
- Deliver data points to all channels: This will enable all channels to act on core data points – and actually build the capability for Personalization within your organization.