Personalisation is still one of the consumer and industry trends that are setting the marketing agenda this year. It’s no surprise that it’s a top priority for marketers as customers expect services, products and information that cater to their individual needs and desires. David Hilbert, marketing director at Kia UK, argues that personalisation is key from a marketing point of view to try and cut through the competition.
We’ve asked a few industry thought leaders for their vision about personalised marketing, if it’s better at the individual or at the persona level. Keep reading to find out what they said...
I think the real question here is whether brands have the ability to tell compelling stories that are customised to the individual. Simply sending promotional emails or offers based on previous purchase history is not really enough to motivate customers in a noisy digital world. You need to tap into their psychology, how they think and feel, and influence it by creating new narratives.
If a brand has sufficient, in-depth, insight on the motivations, beliefs and culture of individuals, and the technology to create stories that will move those customers, then absolutely - they should go for individualised marketing. But I suspect most brands will not have enough insight or the required level of investment in communications platforms and technology. So for the majority of companies, persona-based marketing will allow them to create four to six key stories that are resonant, motivating and relevant. A personal model will only ever fit around 70% of the customer base, but that is better than trying and failing with a clumsy personalised approach that doesn't truly connect with anybody.”
Because due to the world going ‘digital’ we all have the ability to react to any form of marketing. Although businesses still love and need to break us all down into key demographics, we all have the ability to want and need different things. So blanket advertising or global advertising does not cut it anymore. Yes a product or brand can have a single offering but now the marketing needs to be personalised. It is about a brand having a two way conversation with the consumer. The phrase ‘From we to me’ sums it up.
The only thing we now need to consider is the current state of culture and people's lives. Brands need to be a lot more considered in their approach to marketing, what they are selling and the tone they are selling it in.”
I would say a mix of both. I think that personalization is a powerful method to engage with your customers, but privacy is something we shouldn't forget and we should be aware that sensitive information needs to be outside of the personalised experience. We also need to be sensitive to practicality.
Persona marketing, done well, groups our target audiences based on common interests or characteristics to create customer-centric strategies and experiences that will resonate with each group in a personalized manner. We need to be sure our personas are accurate and reflect consumer fragmentation. We all like to feel unique and receive individual messages, but as I said, leaving sensitive information outside of the equation.”
It’s not an either/or; as marketers we have a toolkit and it’s up to us to pick the best approach to get the job done. The real question is, then: what’s the job? The answer to that question varies by campaign, audience, client, brand, budget, scale, timings, media mix, objective, territorial scope… We need of course to be sensitive to target audiences’ values, our clients’ values, our own data ethics, and the law. Within the IPG family, on matters of data privacy we take our lead from Acxiom, who have fifty years’ unrivalled experience in the field.
Persona-based targeting can be extremely powerful. We’re all familiar with geo-demographic segmentations such as Personicx, MOSAIC and ACORN. Acxiom’s UK Neighbourhood InfoBase product is available at a postcode level, and to ensure compliance imposes a minimum level of aggregation of ten households.
But increasingly we need to go granular. For this requirement, a number of years ago IPG built a person-level data stack, which we use to build and profile audience segments in an anonymised environment, before pushing them to various activation partners. In our data stack, we also integrate clients’ first-party data. For compliant one-to-one targeting in the UK, we work with a range of leading platforms, from national broadcasters to DSPs. The efficiency gains in targeting and driving bespoke audiences to action speak for themselves, and are loved by our clients.”
As technology has advanced it has given marketers the tools to make things more personalised than ever, but I’m not sure anyone has figured out how to use personalised marketing in an appealing way. Marketers are already too trigger happy with personalisation tactics and the executions often feel gimmicky or creepy. People are becoming more savvy to data capture and concerned with privacy ethics. A backlash is rising and personalised marketing is a huge contributor to this data distrust. The suspicion is high - there's a fear that if you’ve searched through their entire internet history to read their mind or listened into their phone conversations, it can be really damaging to your brand.
There needs to be a certain subtlety to it or else it can result in the brand becoming a bit of an unwanted stalker. We’re in need of a creative revival to gain attention, world changing ideas with integrity and relevancy is going to gain cut through. Don’t push personalisation for the sake of it, serve something where they have to sit up and take note, serve something that means something to your audience. If you serve people crap creative in a personalised way. It's still crap creative. Creativity is king.”
Most brands we speak to have completely transformed how they think about their consumers and customers, and their prospective consumers and customers. If you go back even a couple of years, the priority was choosing a Data Management Platform (DMP) and adding users to audience segments. In the last few years that has really evolved, as smart brands move away from segments towards user scores. In the real world, a person cannot be bucketed into ‘target’ or ‘do not target’ easily and reliably. Now, the decision is how valuable that visitor is to you, in the context of the inventory, timing and a plethora of other factors.
So by combining a score for each user, together with the inventory and timing signals, brands are thinking about communicating with their audience in a much more customised way. Taking this to the level of messaging, many advertisers are looking at different dynamic solutions across both display and video, to ensure that they have the right message for all of the different variations of user scores.”
Consumers want relevance in the marketing messages they receive from brands. So whether it’s on a personal, persona or broader segment level using these experiences is essential. Getting this right can offer brands benefits beyond, and sales too. Our research suggests that successful personalisation actually reassures customers and makes them more willing to share their data with a brand. Meaning that successfully personalising your marketing, as a brand, can quickly become a virtuous cycle.”
Original photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash.