The new year represents an interesting time for marketers. As the dust settles on what was hopefully a productive last 12 months, attention is quickly switched to the 12 that follow – an avenue of great opportunity for improvement across various activities.
One area in need of a good clean-up is personalisation: a tactic which divides opinion from consumers and brands, although rarely at the expense of investment and usage.
I’ve previously written about the fine line between being useful and creepy when deploying a personalised marketing campaign. The top-line guidance was as follows:

  • Being of genuine use to customers is the best way of building relationships with them.
  • Marketers should provide details on how they’re using people’s data, giving them the power of opting out if necessary.
  • Certain audiences don’t take to personalisation, so think carefully about the people you’re targeting.

On the heels of that advice, I’d like to go into examples of how I can see personalisation working in 2019 as marketers start to plot their next moves.

1. Moderating the use of targeting

Remarketing is an effective way of enticing customers back to a website they’ve previously visited. It’s a tactic that wouldn’t get used without being effective, but is the seventh, eighth or ninth impression going to deliver the impact that the first could not?
Consumers have previously spoken about ads and companies that “follow them around the internet” and this should act as a warning sign to those who repeatedly issue the same piece of creative, over and over again.
A better approach could see the use of conversion-led messages within a short timeframe of the user leaving a website. Should they fail to convert within this period (time that should be informed by analysis into purchase consideration for the product at hand), they might welcome a broader and more inspiring form of creative to reel them back in.
Of course, provided the user is still clicking, interacting and suggesting their interest beyond an impression, there might be scope for sales-led targeting to get them over the line. But any showings of unrelenting persistence will only have the opposite effect.

2. Providing greater transparency over the use of data

I’m writing in light of Google receiving a £44 million fine as a result of a “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent” around its personalisation of ads.
Each company goes about publishing T&Cs in a different way, and in the age of tightening regulations and growing awareness of data laws on the customer’s side, to lack understanding is to lack respect. If you’re collecting data and have not allocated the time to explain to customers exactly how it’s being used, be aware of the consequences.

3. Listening to the target audience

Personalised advertising can work to an ever-expanding range of different information. The emphasis in the collection phase is often around the points of use to the business, but what if the consumer was allowed to have a say on the basis of the campaign?
A recent study from Forrester revealed the top forms of data that shoppers were willing to share with advertisers. These included:

  • Products of interest (50%)
  • Hobbies and interests (40%)
  • Spend on products (26%)
  • Data from social media activity (7%)
  • Browsing history (6%)
  • Friends or followers on social networks (4%)

From the above, we can see that buying history and hobbies are fair game for advertisers, along with spend on products. Meanwhile, social media is largely off limits.
As an added note, the study found that 36% of shoppers are demanding better efforts in personalisation from brands. Could their feedback influence an improved landscape for personalisation in 2019?

4. Looking beyond conventional approaches

For a great number of marketers, to personalise is to use data in a way that informs the serving of an ad – usually within display. What few realise is that a whole world of opportunity is waiting outside of this very narrow and restricted realm.

Consider the use of a personalised landing page, based on the customer’s on-site behaviour, or the use of AI to craft tailor-made emails.  
According to Econsultancy’s 2017 CRO report, a multi-channel strategy might even result in a welcomed boost to conversions. The research found that 93% of those using personalisation within search engine marketing have experienced an uplift in their conversion rate, above 92% for email marketing and 91% for SMS.
Through studies like Econsultancy’s, we can summarise that if you’re not considering personalisation across search engine marketing, offline, email or anywhere else beyond remarketing, you’re probably missing a trick.

5. Remembering the experience

In a similar vein, it’s important to think of ways that entire experiences – not just advertisements – can be subject to personalisation.
The travel market is one area where consumers are actively buying more online and eschewing a visit to the high street. We can attribute some of this to convenience, as research on 1,500 UK consumers from Viga shows that 53% would be willing to pay more for their trips on the provision of a personalised booking experience – much like the one they’d enjoy in-store.
Judging by the recent commentary around industry publications and events, it’s fair to say most brands are talking a great game with regards to improving experiences for their customers. Along with the efforts in increasing site speed, creating smooth journeys and conversion rate optimisation, the finishing touches could derive from personalisation.