If marketers are struggling to figure out how to develop a personalization strategy that works, the vice-president and managing director at consulting firm Relation1 suggests looking at a tactic that often doesn’t work — the traditional online retargeting campaign.
Anyone who has went researching online for a new laptop, a productivity tool or a SaaS product will immediately know that feeling of being “followed” around the Web by a determined advertiser. It might take only a single visit to a vendor’s site before that vendor (or one of their competitors) keeps serving up ad after ad in the hopes of a click. According to Francois Gaumond, these are often personalization attempts gone awry.
“It’s usually the result of a poor strategy. The thinking is, ‘I’ll overpay any advertising channel so possibly you will see that product,” the Relation1 exec told B2B News Network. “It’s purely linear: you’ve seen a product, so I’m retargeting it. We have a saying that good personalization is personalization that you don’t even notice.”
Based in Montreal, Relation1 was formed just over two years ago as a result of the acquisition of TC Media’s 1:1 Marketing Solutions and Data Insights unit by IDEALI. Since then, Gaumond and his team have been trying to educate marketers about the power of personalization based on levels of maturity that range from basic to advanced, data-driven and finally data and buyer behavior-driven. According to Relation1, moving from one stage to the next can improve response rates by 30 per cent.
For most firms, however, the challenge is still figuring out where to start, according to Gaumond. Banks, retailers and other companies tend to pursue personalization as a result of what competitors are doing and sometimes because they recognize a shift in customer expectations. In other cases, Gaumond said, the rationale is less clear.
“We’ve worked with firms where basically they have an objective to release some personalization strategies and tactics and projects, but beyond the need to personalize, they have no clue what is it, what it means for them,” he said. “We walk them through our process but also talk about what (personalization) might look like for their organization and vertical.”
In a vendor like a retailer, for instance, personalization needs to consider a wide range of products and content that surrounds them. In financial services, however, the number of products may be far more limited. No matter the sector, however, it usually comes down to figuring out what data to use, and combining it from disparate sources across an organization.
“In the future we’re going to be seeing a lot more in-store and at the point of sale (POS),” he said, pointing to firms that arm cashiers with ways to access customer information so as to upsell or cross-sell before a transaction is finalized. “You’re probably going to see a lot more of what I’ll call the Apple approach to checkout, where you don’t necessarily line up to a cash register to have items scanned but interact with someone that has a mobile device. While you’re with that person, they will scan through different products to make smarter recommendations.”
Of course, the notion of personalization might seem at odds with the rise of privacy regulations such as GDPR and the fears of how some organizations make use of data. Gaumond, however, said Relation1 is already seeing a generational shift where personalization is not seen as intrusive but a business norm.
“Facebook came into their early adult life,” he pointed out. “They have absolutely no problem with sharing data, as long as they get some benefit out of it. That’s getting reflected in the older generation now, too. It only needs one company to doing it really well to start changing people’s minds.”