The era of personalization is well and truly here. Over 75% of B2C marketing decision makers rank personalization as very or extremely important for short term success (eMarketer). According to Jeff Fuhrim from Adobe, “Highly personalized experiences perform better, compelling more visitors to sign up, subscribe, download, or buy.”
Even Apple is struggling
Yet personalization is still is in it’s infancy with a whopping 72% of digital marketers not knowing how to start personalizing the customer experience (Econsultancy). Even Apple, a leader at delivering flawless digital experiences, is struggling with getting personalization right. In a recent blog post by Christopher Ratcliff, a comment was left by Sitecore’s head of business optimization, Lars Petersen about a disappointing Apple experience he had.
"I managed to pre-order the new iPhone. 90 min. later I went to Apple.com, using the same device I just used to buy the new iPhone - the content I see is all focused on selling me the iPhone 6 (they have forgotten all about me). As a consumer, this is very disappointing and very irrelevant (don’t they know me?)!”
This is evidently a nightmare scenario for any company, no less Apple, but Lars at the end of his comment states, “Data and personalization are key for a connected experience and in my experience with Apple.com, they aren't using either.”
Data is key, but what is the ‘right’ data to use
Recently, Jeff Fuhrim looked at three different data sources used to power personalization in his post – Advantage and Limitations of Implicit Data.
One data stream he explores is profile data i.e. past purchases, contact information, etc. Much of the personalization done today is leveraging profile data. Yet as Jeff notes, “To evaluate the usefulness of profile data ask yourself, does this information put me in touch with what the visitor wants and needs today?”.
It is clearly important to link data and personalization together but what is the ‘right’ data to use?
It’s not about the person, it’s about their purpose
“Sites demonstrate they know a visitor’s location, what the visitor did on their last visit or even what they’ve done elsewhere on the web. Personalization can then seem less about the visitor’s needs and more about the person themselves. This creates user discomfort without necessarily helping them accomplish what they came to do. Part of personalization’s slow growth and looming privacy concern is a consequence of this focus on the visitor, and not on the visit itself.”
Astutely, Jeff pointed out though that, “to know what each and every user wants, you’d need to ask them. This works in person, when a prospect calls or walks into a store, but it’s more complicated in digital.”
What can you do if you can’t ask everyone?
The challenge highlighted by Jeff is one that we have addressed in the last year. At iperceptions, we specialize in capturing a representative sample of visitor intent by asking a small sample of website visitors their intent while on digital properties. However, we understand that we can’t ask every site visitor so Lane Cochrane challenged his research team to recognize intent in session without having to ask every visitor. And they succeeded. Through our Active Recognition Technology, brands are now able to recognize a visitors intent in real-time without the need to ask them. We believe this is key to executing personalization. It’s not about the person, it’s about their purpose. Only when brands shift their thinking towards their customers’ goals will they be able to effectively personalize the customer experience.