Time To Get Personal

Oli Taylor
Oli Taylor 13th January 2021

Despite so many digital strategies including “personalisation” somewhere on the list, it can be surprising how many businesses still aren’t maximising the value of creating a more relevant experience for consumers through some kind of form of personalisation.

But why? When getting the basics right in the current conditions matter more than ever: including demonstrating a deep understanding of an individual and making their life (or shopping experience) easier. Is it that businesses don’t recognise the value yet or don’t know where to start?

Whichever it might be, it is now more important than ever to keep your customers loyal and make more out of the leads that you do have.

So why is personalisation worth prioritising?

Firstly, there are an increasing number of examples from brands and businesses showing how personalisation can present a huge opportunity for greater levels of conversion; in fact we have our own case studies that clearly demonstrate the positive impact a personalisation strategy can have.

One project in particular stands out, part of our ongoing work for a leading printer manufacturer.

One of the core goals for the Business Solutions team within the organisation was to increase lead generation. We used Sitecore personalisation tools to tailor the content users were viewing based on the industry they’d previously shown an interest in, for example healthcare. Relevant messaging on managed print services and business solutions tailored to that sector then continued through their onward journey through the site, resulting in increased requests for more information.

A second argument for prioritising personalisation is how easy it is to test - and to validate whether further investment in it will add value. Businesses now more than ever need to look to deliver as much value as possible across the channels that they own – email and website. Even small gains are good gains and key learnings can often be taken from any testing and experimentation to inform future strategies.

And really, there is no reason not to be looking at it! Unless, of course, it doesn’t have any relevance at all to a service or product offering. Because at the end of the day it’s about being useful and offering a great experience, and if personalisation can bolster this then now’s the time to get to it.

Relevance is expected - brands delivering high levels of personalisation have set the bar high

Even before Covid, customers were already demanding ever-more relevance for their time, and the pandemic has accelerated this trajectory. Relevance is expected – regardless of sector.

Brands delivering high levels of personalisation (yes we’re talking Netflix and Amazon) have set the bar high and consumers are measuring all brands against these service standards. Creating a relevant customer experience is what keeps customers coming back for more and in the absence of being able to ask a sales person – in person – while stores are closed, online needs to step up in helping customers find what they need. If you can recognise the new needs that your customer has more quickly, then you’re going to be able to serve them more effectively; to engage them, and to establish that ongoing relationship that leads to loyalty.

We all know that encouraging loyal customers to purchase is more cost-effective than attracting new shoppers, but it requires a brand to provide a tailored experience. Don’t expect a customer to simply re-purchase because they have done so in the past. Having web and email content primed for their individual preferences and behaviours will be vital to convert them.

Like most areas of digital personalisation is evolving both creatively and technically.

For any companies still struggling to properly implement the strategy in a meaningful and scalable way, we have these five pieces of advice:

  1. It’s worth considering that there are lots of forms of personalisation. It’s about being pragmatic. Start simple and prove the business value
  2. A common blocker has long been a lack of technological investment – coupled with lack of know how. Companies don’t think they have the digital maturity, skillset (or budget) to implement a personalisation strategy well. But even in the past 12 months there has been an expansion of low code or no code solutions that’s making personalisation more accessible. Tools are emerging that puts the capability in the hands of a wider range of businesses of all size and digital maturity. For example, Sitecore and Episerver has got personalisation built in and Google’s optimise or Optimizely are low cost.
  3. Digital experiences can feel personalised without having to ‘know who you are’ or you having even bought from them. For example, our app for CitySuites delivers a ‘personal’ service – but the guest doesn’t even have to meet any staff in person (which for a hotel may seem odd but is how we can create services that make them feel welcome)! The most effective personalisation is that it feels like it's relevant for you and catering for your needs.
  4. See it as part of a rounded view. Ideally, a personalisation strategy would be built into an initial phase of work – when looking at the complete user journey and defining a product roadmap based on customer insight and needs. Retrofitting a personalisation strategy into a site that’s not really designed to manage what’s needed can be hard – but it’s not unsurmountable.
  5. Validate it. Measuring the success of the effectiveness of personalisation can be done in a few different ways. Have some clear goals and A/B test before rolling out based on these results. It’s the experience of personalisation for the customer that is really important.


Ollie Bailey

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