Are you doing personalization wrong?

Less is more

Personalization is becoming an increasingly important element in the pursuit of a differentiated customer experience. It has also come a long way, in recent years, according to Evergage CMO Andy Zimmerman who says that personalization has evolved from “delivering one-to-many experiences, aimed at broad groups of people – to being truly effective at the individual, one-to-one level.”

This is backed by recent research by Evergage that found that 98% of marketers agree that personalization positively impacts customer relationships with the principal areas of benefit coming from increased visitor engagement, improved customer experience and increased conversion rates.

However, in the same study, the surveyed marketers also reported a range of challenges including insufficient and low quality data.

But, is more data of a better quality the answer, particularly when you consider that while many customers want a personalized experience a large number of them also have privacy and data protection concerns?

Jebbit, a declared data platform provider, and Zappos, the celebrated online retailer, offer different perspectives on the route to personalization success.

Jonathan Lacoste and Ben Cockerell of Jebbit believe that companies actually have more data than they know what to do with and they need to change tack if they want to create a compelling, stand out and personalized customer experience. To do that, they believe, they should focus on asking for and collecting only three or four data points that will take them beyond the standard transactional or behavioral data, that is normally collected, and that will allow them to move into more psycho-graphic data i.e “The why behind the buy.”

Boden in the UK is following Jebbit’s declared data approach and, on average, they’re seeing a 33-34% increase in their cart size and around a 52-53% higher conversion rate.

This approach is aligned with Zappos’ approach to personalization. Alex Genov, Head of Customer Research at Zappos, believes that the challenge with personalization is that different customers feel very differently about sharing their data and that personalization means different things to different people. As a result, it is often very difficult to ascertain the real reason or context behind a purchase and that is where many firms’ personalization efforts go wrong.

That’s why they are taking a more dialogue led approach rather than a data and technology ‘best guess’ led approach.

What that means, in practice, is that they are designing their interfaces to help deliver the sort of dialogue they need so that it drives their understanding of their customers as people and not simply as a collection of data points. Then, and only then, will they use technology and algorithms to deliver the experience their customer wants.

While Genov admits that Zappos are early in their own personalization journey, he believes that brands should first concentrate on understanding their customers as people and then work with data and technology to deliver the experience they want. He goes on to say that “If you see people as just a user or just a buyer then you don’t see the whole person and, as a result, you don’t see the whole opportunity”.

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This post was originally published on Forbes here.

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

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