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How to Avoid Getting Personalization 'Wrong'

4 minute read
Tim Harnett avatar
Omnichannel marketing and customer demands are pushing organizations to be everywhere at once. But what happens when their efforts turn sour?

Personalization lies at the heart of many modern customer outreach strategies. Thanks to evolving marketing efforts, customers these days have become accustomed to — and frequently prefer — when websites, ads and marketing messages are tailored specifically for them. Because personalization is such a powerful tool for attracting and retaining customers, 20% of businesses consider personalization as one of their most crucial digital experience investment priorities, according to CMSWire research.

Much has been written about the positive effects of personalization. But what happens when organizations get it wrong? After all, the stakes couldn’t be higher: many customers are quick to drop a company or brand if they have one too many bad experiences. What can companies do to avoid making mistakes with personalized outreach?

5 Keys to Winning Customers With Personalization

Personalization is part art and part science. There’s more opportunities than ever to learn as much as you can about current and potential customers — the data is the science. The art is knowing what data to include in outreach, which can vary greatly from customer to customer.

The 5 keys to attracting and retaining customers with personalization are:

  • Adapt to the new reality. Your customers are online, so your presence is table stakes.
  • Nail the basics. Basic information should be easily available through self-service. If you can personalize this information (using proximity data to show closest locations for example) you can often answer customers’ questions before they ask them.

  • Recognize how customers differ. Customers’ preference on personalization can very widely based on age/generation, attitudes around privacy or other factors. The more data you have about customers can help you make more informed decisions on how much (or how little) to personalize.
  • Tailor the messaging with data. The more complete your customer view is, the more you can drill down personalization efforts to what customers are really looking for.
  • Deliver relevant experiences. Let’s face it: your ads won’t please everyone all the time and your personalization efforts might not always hit the mark. (Netflix’s algorithm famously had trouble recommending other movies to viewers who enjoyed the film Napoleon Dynamite). But with the right data and information, you can deliver relevant experiences that will delight your customers.

Get Personalization Right With More Data

One clear theme emerges when discussing how to get personalization right and avoid making mistakes: the need for data. Data gaps are frequent culprits in missed personalization efforts. Without having a full 360-degree view of a customer, companies run the risk of making offers for things they either don’t own, never will own or might already own. (If a customer just bought a vacuum cleaner, the last ad they want to see is one for another vacuum cleaner.)

Learning Opportunities

Organizations need the most up-to-date data on a customer to truly “get them” and know where customers are in their lives. If certain life events aren’t happening anymore, then delivering ads for those life events is another misfire.

This lack of understanding is typically caused by lack of both first- and third-party data. Even though third-party cookie data is going away shortly, organizations still need to bring more people into the 1st and 3rd party data graph. Knowing as much as you can about your customers ensures your personalization efforts will hit the mark every time.

Conclusion

With so much attention being paid to personalization, the stakes have never been higher for companies to get it right regarding their customers. Customers want to feel connected, known and seen by the companies and brands they invest their time, money and attention on. This starts with having a great data set, together with an understanding of where customers are in their journey and how they feel about personalization efforts. Knowing your customer will avoid the pitfalls of getting personalization messaging wrong.

To learn more about how Acxiom can help your personalization efforts, visit acxiom.com.

About the author

Tim Harnett

Tim is the senior manager of research and content for Simpler Media Group. In his role he writes content, market guides and data-driven research reports for all of SMG’s internal and external clients.

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