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Where to Start in Delivering Personalized Experiences

It seems as if every company today is chasing the elusive "personalization." Vendors offer personalization technology, agencies present personalization tactics, but companies continue to struggle with actually delivering personalization.

There are a couple of reasons behind this struggle, but the primary struggle seems to be with the idea that personalization is something other than a concept. It is not something that can be purchased through one piece of technology or another, and it is more than simply showing someone their name or local weather.  

If you were to take one moment, step back, and ask your marketing department to define personalization, you would start to realize that it means something different to everyone. If you continue the questioning, you might find that people expect to see it across channel and media. Personalization does not occur in a single point of time or within a siloed channel. It is definitely more than a pixelated format spelling out the consumer’s name. 

Consumers think the same thing.

Personalization is part of an overarching ongoing relationship. Regardless of time or location, channel or media, device or person, personalization should be a part of the ongoing interactions occurring between a company and consumer.  

You might think of personalization as the means by which a company turns any set of consumer interactions into a meaningful conversation.   A conversation which drives customer satisfaction, increased conversions, and overall consumer loyalty. 

So, if personalization is a concept, then where should you start? 

Start at the very beginning, with your strategy. A strategy should include the following five elements:

  1. Define "personalization" for your company and consumer. Be careful not to define personalization for a brand or division; instead, focus on the overall relationship that the consumer will have with each brand, with channel and media, with the company as a whole throughout the course of the entire consumer journey.  
  2. Incorporate the aspects of personalization into your consumer journey. Call out key points within the journey that will change the conversation and types of personalization that are accepted and expected. Recognize where the consumer would expect a personal interaction and where it would feel forced – or even disturbing.  
  3. Assess what you have in place first so you can determine what you else your organization may need. While you may have technology that provides personalization, you may need to reevaluate its capabilities. Specifically, does it have the elements you will need such as consumer and media data, decisioning and arbitration capabilities, and collateral optimization to help you deliver an omni-channel conversation?
  4. Review your collateral. Is it singular in its communication and direction? Have you developed it so that it develops and maintains an ongoing dialogue from awareness to acquisition to retention? In most cases, collateral tends to be singular in focus and messaging. Content is developed to "sell an item” or "drive a conversion." Look at how the various aspects of your collateral (creative, message, offer, and call-to-action) could all be changed to align to the consumer journeys.     
  5. Finally, outline a roadmap for moving forward. What channels you could start with immediately, what channels are the future? What are some immediate easy wins and what is going to take a bit of work? 

If your company is going to deliver on personalized experiences, make certain you understand and know what a "personalized experience" is before you purchase the software, develop the collateral, or email your consumers.   

Remember, personalization is a concept. A concept that you should define and understand. A concept that is not siloed within brands, channels, media or departmental branches.  

And if personalization is a concept, your marketing, agencies, data, and technology are the tools by which you deliver personalization — or better yet, "personalized experiences."