The extra effort to make marketing more hyper-personalised may not always pay off but CleverTap’s Dave Dabbah says brands should still increase personalisation as it improves the overall customer experience, which ultimately strengthens customer relationships.

I can’t imagine going back to the days of manually queuing your own songs or worse, listening to pre-made, standard playlists. When I listen to music, I expect the next recommendation on queue to fit my taste and current mood. Working out? Here’s some fast-paced electronic dance music. Concentrating on work? Lo-fi hip-hop or elevator music. And, if the next track misses the vibe, I don’t hesitate to quit the session.

For brands, delivering personalised experiences are now table stakes. One study from Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations relevant to them. And yet, personalisation is a tricky line to toe. In recent years, people have rightfully been demanding more control over their data – and this is raising important questions about personalisation. 

Increased personalisation is still worth the pursuit

Offering personalised experiences allows brands to forge meaningful connections with customers, driving stronger customer engagement and evangelism. If you are reading this, I’m sure you already know that.

The larger, looming question is how far should brands take their personalisation efforts, and is hyper-personalisation still worth pursuing?

For one, it’s a strategy that suffers from the law of diminishing returns. As brands move from a one-size-fits-all strategy to a one-to-some strategy and finally to a one-to-one strategy, the amount of effort put in to make the marketing more hyper-personalised may not always pay off.

However, brands should still stand by increased personalisation because it is key to improving the overall customer experience, which ultimately strengthens relationships with their customers.

Less obviously, brands should be mindful of generational differences when it comes to expectations and open-ness to personalisation. While older generations may be more sceptical, younger generations like millennials and Gen Zs have grown up in a digitalised world and are accustomed to, and may even expect, tailored, personalised experiences.

Data privacy is part of the user experience

Indisputably, more consumers are prioritising data privacy. According to a PWC study, close to 85% of consumers said they want more control over their own data. However, it is fully possible to balance both personalisation and data privacy by ensuring that brands only collect data that consumers consent to sharing.

As part of this, brands should be transparent about what data is being collected and the benefits of collecting the data, and give users the option to opt in and out. Beyond this, brands must strive to give their customers value, including through rewards and loyalty programmes, in exchange for their data.

Ultimately, brands must remember that giving consumers control over their data builds trust and respect and is also a crucial aspect of a personalised user experience.

The new frontier: Using real-time data and insights

There are many available options where brands can provide personalisation, including omnichannel programmes, email marketing and text messaging. Having said that, focusing on personalised messaging within an app or platform is likely to yield the best results. For this to succeed, it must go beyond the basics of addressing the customer by name. Instead, brands should use behavioural analytics to uncover trends that allow them to predict what customers like and provide real, actionable recommendations.

How does this work?

  • Firstly, brands can build their own product correlation matrix by creating a list of recommendations for each product and mapping them to certain user behaviours. For example, liking a pair of jeans on an e-commerce site would result in more recommendations of other jeans, and more recommendations from that particular retailer.
  • Next, recommended products are calculated based on a user’s most recent activity and served to the user through notifications. Rather than relying on historical data collected over weeks and months, brands should use real-time data and insights to provide the most relevant recommendations. With this, even new users with a short history on the platform can be targeted through personalised recommendation campaigns.

One brand that does this well is digital marketplace Carousell. By looking at each user’s most recent browsing behaviour, such as their most recent likes, most looked at categories and products that they showed interest in but did not purchase within 24 hours, Carousell was able to tailor recommendations and push notifications on a weekly basis. They update inventory catalogues as often as possible to ensure that users aren’t sent recommendations to out-of-stock items. They did this through CleverTap’s Product Recommendation feature, which utilises machine learning, and the strategy earned them a 71% increase in week three retention rates, and a 73% improvement in average click-through rates.

The best time to start was yesterday

Brands that are not already creating a hyper-personalised customer experience risk losing out. As more businesses digitalise, there will be more competition in an already crowded online space. Providing individual experiences is an essential brand differentiator and an effective way to capture customer loyalty.

There are so many great tools available in the market today which can help to dramatically improve personalised experiences within a platform. Start by looking at real-time, actionable data to understand customers and make sure that the personalisation strategy is always customer-centric and respectful of customers’ privacy.