Shafqat Islam
Shafqat Islam 27 November 2023

It’s Time For Brands to Move From Personalised, to Personal

At a time when almost every brand is tailoring content and offers to individual customers based on their demographic data, purchase history, and online behaviours, are these personalisation efforts still adding value? In the land of ubiquitous personalisation, is any one brand standing out?

It’s been over ten years since personalisation became a staple of digital marketing, and it’s fair to say the market is reaching a state of maturity. Personalisation is everywhere.

But, at a time when almost every brand is tailoring content and offers to individual customers based on their demographic data, purchase history, and online behaviours, are these personalisation efforts still adding value? In the land of ubiquitous personalisation, is any one brand standing out?

The answer – not quite. Simply using personalisation techniques is no longer enough — customers are getting desensitised to so-called ‘personal’ content that feels mass-produced. To overcome this, brands must move beyond basic personalisation to create experiences that feel truly unique to their individual customers.

Insights vs Assumptions

The problem with so many personalisation efforts today is that they rely heavily on assumptions. Brands automatically serve up recommendations based on generic customer profiles, rather than taking the time to understand individuals.

As a result, two-thirds of consumers are frustrated with supposedly “personalised promotions” that in reality hold no relevance to their personal interests and needs.

More importantly, while 71% of consumers say the digital experiences that they encounter feel "targeted" towards them, only 33% feel that these experiences are "truly personal", largely due to the fact that brands are still overly reliant on {Insert Name Here} style outreach methods.

As a result of this outdated approach, a gap has emerged between personalised content that feels generically targeted, and experiences that feel tailor-made for the individual.

The one-size-fits-all approach causes customers to tune out. They feel spoken down to, not engaged with. While the content may be personalised on a surface level, it fails to make an authentic connection.

Creating Truly Personal Experiences

To move from generic personalisation to tailored experiences, brands need to think beyond assumptions and averages. Each customer is an individual with unique needs, emotions, and motivations. Brands must get to know them on a deeper level and that’s where a new — more experimental — approach is needed.

Experimentation enables marketers to try different approaches to personalisation providing them with an understanding of what content is working with their current strategy and helping them to change what's not.

This data-driven approach replaces guesswork with specific insights about customer preferences and motivations. And by understanding audiences at an individual level, companies can craft highly customised messaging and experiences.

In today's competitive landscape, marrying experimentation with personalisation gives brands a crucial advantage by making each customer feel valued, and when customers feel “seen” by a brand, they reciprocate with increased loyalty. In fact, 63% of consumers say they would be more devoted to a brand that gets to know them personally.

So, what does this look like in action? After running A/B tests on its website, online real estate platform, Zoopla, found that short concise messaging and the inclusion of lifestyle imagery performed much better than just promotional language.

This led it to make testing and optimisation a core part of its digital strategy, leading to a 36% increase in user engagement and a 16% increase in lead generation.

Investing in Experimentation

At its heart, personalisation is about human connection. Brands must start having real conversations, and that involves testing out new approaches.

Today, 70% of marketers are marrying personalisation and experimentation in an effort to get more personal in their experiences and campaigns, and 42% have invested in experimentation technology in order to do this effectively.

For some brands, investing in unfamiliar technology might sound like a risk these days. And in times of economic uncertainty, it can be all too easy to stick to using the tools already in your belt and avoid ‘experimenting’ with new ones.

But in reality, this overly cautious approach will only hold brands back from resonating with customers on a whole different level.

As well as driving better results, experimentation also saves marketers time and money in the long run. Testing new approaches on a small scale allows brands to quickly understand what resonates and what falls flat, enabling them to "fail fast" and pivot strategies that aren't working.

Rather than wasting months rolling out an ineffective campaign to a wider audience, experiments allow marketers to achieve the same learnings in a fraction of the time. While experimentation requires an initial investment, it ultimately accelerates ROI by focusing efforts on what works.

Because of that, it’s no surprise that 44% of marketers say they are investing in experimentation specifically because of the UK’s economic situation, using experiments as a way to drive revenue, boost customer retention and deliver growth.

Additionally, 75% say that during tough economic times, finding new ways to optimise their personalisation strategy will be “more important than ever.”

Just like forming a new habit, creating a mature experimentation program takes practice. But, once your team experiences the uplift in outcomes based the experiments they’ve run, your team will consistently take a test-and-learn approach, making the practice a key part of your team’s culture.

While it can take time to perfect your experimentation program, starting off with simple tests can pay dividends. After all, there’s no such thing as a bad experiment – each one reveals new insights about your customers.

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