Personalization, highly individual messaging, is hot stuff in marketing now. Marketers use personalization to make their messages relevant to the customer. When you add a product to an online shopping cart, and you get instant offers for related products, thatís personalization. Emails or texts alerting you about discounts for products youíve viewed in the past are another form of personalization. Done right, personalization can boost conversion rates and customer satisfaction.
Good personalization motivates you to visit often, linger longer, and buy some extras. Maybe youíve bought one of the items that Amazon recommended just for you, or ordered from a great new restaurant that you discovered in a GrubHub email that highlighted restaurants in your own neighborhood. If so, then youíve experienced good personalization in action.
Personalization isnít always on the mark. One online retailer offered me a size 0 dress today, while another hit me with ads for weight-loss products. For a while, I was bombarded by ads for a cougar dating site. None of these merchants got any money from me. Maybe their tactics work often enough to be profitable, maybe not.
As JC Grubbs, president of digital development and design firm DevMynd Software puts it, ďPoorly executed personalization is vastly worse than letting users choose their own content.Ē Heís so right. Bad personalization is the reason that I have come to hate my electric bill.
The electric company thinks it knows me, and it thinks it knows my neighbors, but all it knows is the number of kilowatt hours we use each month. It doesnít know that many of the apartments near mine are used as vacation homes and arenít occupied most of the time. It doesnít know how many people live in each household, who works at home, or who has kids. It happens that my household is a little bigger than the US average, and our energy consumption is a little lower than average, so those notes on the electric bill donít do much except to annoy me. Thatís bad personalization.
To do personalization well, you need to test your ideas and learn what works, and what doesnít. You can use conventional techniques such as A/B testing to compare personalized offers to controls. Start small and choose low-risk projects at first. (JC Grubbs suggests testing personalization with a group of past customers who havenít been active for a while, so youíll have little to lose if your test flops, and a lot to gain if you succeed.) Once youíve had some small successes, gradually work up to a larger scale, explore customer segments, and experiment with a variety of messages.
No personalization scheme succeeds 100% of the time. Personalized offers donít always work as well as ordinary offers. Yet those who use personalization well are rewarded with increased revenue and happy, loyal customers. So, donít just personalize! Test personalized offers and measure the response, so youíll know what works.
Have you tested personalization in your workplace? Please share your experience.