- Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of marketers who have invested in personalization will abandon their efforts due to lack of ROI, the perils of customer data management or both.
- Personalized marketing is about delivering a positive user experience, so marketers should see it as one of the many tools to enhance that experience, not as their primary goal. Your mission is to use personalization for the customer, not against them.
- Once marketers are ready to choose a personalization solution, they should prioritize true cloud, SaaS architecture along with simple, best-of-breed integrations to ensure they retain flexibility and agility and don’t get weighed down by heavy tech.
- By embracing privacy user experience, or Privacy UX, marketers can ensure compliance while also building strong relationships with their audiences.
‘Make it personal’ is often a marketer’s favourite mantra and – with personalization voted word of the year by the members of the Association of National Advertisers – customizing messaging to the individual is seen as synonymous with success.
But as brands place pressure on themselves to deliver hyper-personalized campaigns they risk marketing strategies becoming too tech heavy and data reliant, impacting productivity, impeding results and risking regulatory breaches.
According to a recent press release, “by 2025, 80% of marketers who have invested in personalization will abandon their efforts due to lack of ROI, the perils of customer data management or both, according to Gartner, Inc.”
As we prepare to enter a new decade, marketers need to stop panicking about personalization and realize it’s not an all or nothing situation.
By taking a step back and rethinking their strategies they can find the right balance between personalization and privacy without giving up on tailored marketing altogether.
Step one: Build personalization around audience needs
At the start of the year, a report revealing the most exciting opportunities of 2019 exposed a disproportionate emphasis on personalization, with ‘data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual’ coming top of the list above ‘optimizing the customer experience.’
Given personalization should always be about delivering an optimal customer experience this inversion of priorities is a little concerning.
When approaching personalization, marketers should always start with what the end user, their customer, wants.
We’re often told consumers want marketing that is tailored to them, but what they really mean is they want interactions that are relevant and meet their needs, not messages that are so precisely customized to their interests and preferences that it feels creepy, as if they are being watched.
Personalization is far from the only thing that matters to consumers. They also value things like speed and trust, so if marketers are sacrificing either of these for the sake of personalization, they are taking it too far.
In the end, personalized marketing is about delivering a positive user experience, so marketers should see it as one of the many tools to enhance that experience, not as their primary goal. Your mission is to use personalization for the customer, not against them.
Step two: Tackle data and tech requirements
There’s a common misconception personalization requires huge volumes of user data fed into vast platforms, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
Marketers can start small, only collecting information they really need to create meaningful customer connections and using progressive profiling to gradually gather data over time.
With ongoing data regulation restricting personal data use, many marketers are taking the simple and intuitive route of personalizing messaging using contextual clues which don’t make the user personally identifiable.
These could include real-time behavior such as clicked links and content viewed, or ambient data such as time and date, search engine keywords or IP address geolocation.
Other marketers are looking to the tried-and-true method of creating easy-to-navigate experiences that let customers quickly find the content they’re looking for.
The basics of fast, responsive websites with strong information architecture, human-focused design, and easy to understand consent often pays bigger dividends than personalization.
In addition to determining the volume and type of data they need to collect and process, marketers also need to establish their tech requirements.
It’s easy to select a technology provider and simply use the tools they have available, but marketers should always consider audience needs and define what they are trying to achieve with their personalization strategy before looking for a vendor or tech platform.
Once marketers are ready to choose a personalization solution, they should prioritize true cloud, SaaS architecture along with simple, best-of-breed integrations to ensure they retain flexibility and agility and don’t get weighed down by heavy tech.
Step three: Embrace privacy user experience
Assuming marketers are collecting some form of personal information to enable personalization, they need to comply with data regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
By embracing privacy user experience, or Privacy UX, marketers can ensure compliance while also building strong relationships with their audiences.
Privacy UX is about taking best practice from the field of user experience and human-centered design and applying them to data collection and privacy interactions.
It means building trust early in the customer lifecycle – effectively the funnel before the funnel – earning the individual’s consent to collect their data and use it to personalize the experience in the way they want.
Marketers can use privacy interactions to highlight the value exchange, to demonstrate respect for the user and to differentiate themselves as a trusted alternative to competitors.
They should ensure they remain human and on brand when explaining data practices and asking for the user’s consent to collect data for personalization.
Rather than seeing personalization as the make or break element of campaigns, marketers can take a more measured approach to tailoring their messaging.
By building personalization strategies around what audiences want, reassessing their data and tech needs, and using Privacy UX to ensure regulatory compliance while building trust, marketers can stop panicking and find the perfect balance between personalization and privacy.
Ian Lowe is the VP of Marketing at Crownpeak. He leads their marketing and communications department and is responsible for generating demand and creating awareness. Ian is a marketing executive with 20 years of marketing and technology experience, with most of the last 10 years in the web content management space.