Q: The trick to effective personalisation? A: Don’t do personalisation

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Q: The trick to effective personalisation? A: Don’t do personalisation

Personalisation has and remains a hot topic for many marketing leaders that Gartner has had the pleasure of speaking with and for very good reasons. When well executed, it can help brands to design more effective messages that can break through a noisy digital environment; deepen relationships with customers by leveraging more relevant and timely content; drive brand preference and growth (either in the form of new or repeat sales).

Whilst ambitions do vary greatly among marketing teams – ranging from a desire to deliver more effective customer segmentation on one end through to achieving something resembling one-to-one personalisation on the other – there is often one commonly shared assumption…

…That if we (as marketers) are able to acquire and leverage as much customer data as possible, that more personalisation can only ever be a good thing. Good for the brand, and good for the end user.


Why over-personalisation is even worse that no personalisation at all

This assumption is mistaken. Personalisation is above all a game of balance. Whilst no personalisation at all does represent a missed opportunity for brands, Gartner research reveals a clear correlation between the number of customer data dimensions used in a personalised message, and the proportion of customer who perceive that message to be “creepy”. In other words, the more personalised a message or moment is, the greater the risk that the customer will perceive it to be inappropriate.

Furthermore, the consequences of over-personalisation are significant. A Gartner survey of over 2,500 participants found that people are more than three times more likely to give up on brands altogether that “over-personalise” versus those that under (or don’t) personalise.

Thus, the balance brands must achieve is a delicate one: How to personalise just enough to be effective…but not too much to be perceived as creepy?


How a little customer knowledge can provide a lot of relevant, actionable help

There is one approach that appears to be most effective at designing personalised moments that achieve this delicate balance.

Gartner research revealed that of all the different types of personalised messages received by customers, messages that are fundamentally perceived to be “helpful” are the most impactful. More specifically, messages that are both helpful but also include just a little customer data (up to three customer data dimensions) are the most effective of all.

This type of ‘tailored help’ message proved to be the most impactful of all in terms of improving brand intent, purchase and repurchase. Of all the profiled examples in Gartner’s Tailored Help showcase, the key to this approach is not to start with customer data, but instead to start with identifying the type of help customer require most. Assessing the minimal customer data requirements to deliver a helpful message comes at the very end.

(For more information on this, please see How Financial Services Marketers Can Best Position Personalization to Maximize Financial Empowerment)

By: Alex De Fursac Gash

This article was republished with permission from the Gartner Blog Network

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