Personalisation – why are brands still not adopting it?

OPINION / 11th September 2019

Personalisation is at the top of many brand marketers agendas, and has been for years now. Whenever reports come out on marketing trends, personalisation always features as a top priority for the coming month, 6 months and year, although this trend has dipped slightly in recent months. Which begs the question: why are brands still not adopting personalisation properly?

Let’s set the scene a little and think about what personalisation actually is. In the simplest of terms, it’s the action of designing or producing something to meet someone's individual requirements. It comes in various forms; from the early days of personalisation with mail drops, then email, A/B testing as ecommerce took off in the early 00s, and recommendation engines with the likes of Amazon coming to the market. 

Personalisation has since evolved, moving predominantly online in 2019, with user generated methods being favoured in today’s marketing landscape, as well as loyalty based, progressive personalisation and using historical data to inform a customer’s next move.

What does good personalisation look like?

When done well, personalisation can add value not only to the customer through positive experiences, but also to the business through increased sales, conversion and customer loyalty.

Good personalisation consists of:

  • Context – the personalised content guides the user’s experience towards the purchase decision and takes into account factors such as lifestyle, historical behaviour, demographics and geo location
  • Seamless experience – personalisation is integrated at different touch points within the journey across platforms
  • Behavioural – driven by knowledge of the user behaviour in order to deliver relevancy
  • Real-time – can respond with personalised content on the fly
  • Dynamic – adapts to changing circumstances e.g. weather
  • Value – must provide visible value to the user 

When it’s done badly, personalisation can have the reverse effect on a user’s experience and lead them to switch loyalty to a competitor. Yet, there are things your business can avoid doing to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Actions to avoid:

  • Unnecessary inserts – adds no value to the experience
  • Irrelevant communication – recommending content or products not relevant to the user, without considering context
  • Disruptive or creepy contact – personalising in ways that the user feels is inappropriate
  • Errors in address – wrong name or no name can be an immediate turn off for the recipient
  • Over personalisation – becoming too personal or personalising too much can have a negative effect on the user

Barriers to personalisation

There are many reasons why brands are still not adopting personalisation, and a lot of them stem from barriers within an organisation. We’ve broken these down to give a snapshot of areas to look at and see if your business has fallen foul to any of them:

Resource

  • Lack of resources – not enough staff to deliver personalisation
  • Time – poor planning or no time allocated to incorporate personalisation in to the operations of the business
  • Money – little or no budget to invest in people and tech to deliver personalisation
  • Skills – do not have the right skills in the team to plan and run a personalisation program

Strategy

  • Ineffective strategy – no strategy or an ineffective strategy to deliver personalisation
  • Segmentation – strategy based on broad segments which make personalisation difficult due to the segment criteria being too wide
  • Strategic knowledge – lack of means, or poor / little planning of how to deliver a successful personalisation program
  • Difficult tech – creates a technical and capability challenge as people struggle to embrace personalisation

Technology

  • Lack of technology – not having the right technology within the organisation creates a barrier to activating personalisation, as crucial platforms to deliver personalisation may be missing, including cross channel delivery
  • Legacy technology and integration – old systems can often be incompatible with new platforms and provide difficulties when it comes to modernisation with limited capabilities to support personalised comms
  • Data – not collecting enough structured data can provide issues when it comes to using it, as the insights gained may not be in a structured format that’s easy to share across activation platforms
  • Disparate data sources – without a joined up view of user behaviour and interests it become difficult to deliver a seamless personalised experience across platforms

Culture

  • Internal support and cooperation – without this it is very challenging to deliver personalisation as it requires the business to be onboard and support the initiative
  • Old school ways of thinking – some organisations struggle to modernise and don’t understand new technology; this can make adoption slow and misunderstood
  • Business adoption and ways of working – if personalisation is not a factor in the overarching roadmap then it will not be incorporated in strategic planning and as a result will not be reflected in the ways of working between different teams 

Come join ORM and Acquia at our breakfast briefing ‘The landscape of personalisation in the digital world’ on Thursday 26 September. We’ll be exploring these barriers and looking at why it’s important to personalise the end-to-end customer journey for an effective digital experience. Sign up here.