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Overcoming the overwhelm of personalisation practices

“True personalisation can’t be seen, it’s about building a relationship”.


Personalisation has long been seen as the holy grail of any marketer’s toolkit. Get it right, and you’ll deliver highly targeted and relevant messaging to your customers and prospects, which will drive engagement and conversions:

  • 58% of customers said personalised experiences were really important to them when buying (Salesforce);
  • 73% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations (Forbes);
  • 62% of customers expect companies to adapt based on their actions and behaviour (Forbes);
  • 63% of consumers said they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting and relevant (Forbes).

However, most organisations don’t come anywhere close to getting this right – and recent stats speak volumes:

  • Two in five users overall said most personalised messages they received still felt like mass marketing that wasn’t created with them in mind (McKinsey).
  • 80% of marketers will abandon personalisation efforts by 2025 due to “lack of ROI, the perils of customer data management or both" (Gartner).

The challenges of managing personalisation

A lot of companies talk about personalisation, but actually don’t know much about their customers.

When most say “personalisation” they really mean “content personalisation” – which can be tricky and is not often done well. The common pitfalls can be grouped into three areas:

  1. Data - GDPR has made businesses question the ROI for the collection and use of data. It costs money to put the practices in place to collect, store and properly maintain data, and the fear of litigation still looms over many marketing teams.
  2. Customers - Customers are becoming more savvy and ‘wising up’ to the simple forms of personalisation. I’m sure we’ve all been in receipt of some poor examples ourselves (“Dear # (first name)” emails anyone?) Businesses report that concerns over data privacy and breaches is a top concern, with trust being a key ingredient of customer experience. Device and browser producers have started to add their own features, like reducing tracking ability, blocking 3rd party cookies and retargeting attempts.
  3. Technology - There are some very sophisticated technology platforms out there to help with personalisation, but the resource required to manage all aspects can sometimes be overwhelming. The sheer number of options available for personalisation parameters, when multiplied up, can run into hundreds… like gender, whether a parent or not, income, location etc. Machine learning can be used to plug these gaps but setting up, maintaining and iterating rules and content pieces can be time-consuming.


So, what's the future of personalisation? 

“The challenge, and opportunity, of ‘Personalisation 2.0’ is about delivering the personalisation customers actually want whilst respecting the privacy they expect.”

Ashley Friedlein, Founder & President, Econsultancy


The first rule of customer experience is still to provide simple, intuitive, friction-free, ‘effortless’ user experiences. However, the future, is also about redefining personalisation – to be more open and transparent, whilst being more intentional with the types of personalisation which will add value to your customers. As customers we want to be recognised without being identified.


Using “zero party data”, where you capture explicit preferences without needing to reveal actual identities is a helpful concept – as is “explicit personalisation”. This way, you actually ask customers what they want you to personalise on, without having to give up any of their personal privacy. So, for example, you could ask survey questions, with the purpose disclosed of course, or disclose that choosing a navigation option, will send you down a particular user journey.


Users also want to feel like they are benefiting from a useful value exchange – therefore, if they agree to give you an email address, it’s on the understanding you will send them a particular segmented whitepaper and view certain messages on the website – the journey is all clear and controlled by the customer.


Above all, keep it simple. The clothing retailer “Very” used a simple but effective example of non-personal customisation on their website. They tailored their home page depending on the user’s geo-location and the weather forecast in that area. Then displayed relevant clothing options to suit the weather – so dresses and sandals in warmer temperatures and jumpers and rain jackets in areas with downpours. Very simple, but very clever – and no personal data disclosed.


Benefits of personalisation 2.0

  • More transparent and open at each point of the journey.
  • A more realistic and approachable way of starting out, removing unnecessary complexities.
  • Removes the headaches of GDPR and data regulation, as no personally identifiable data is collected.
  • Builds trust with customers, as they are complicit with each stage of personalisation.
  • Less data to have collect and administer, reducing costs and resource required.
  • Less technical knowledge needed to implement rules.
  • A fair value exchange for customers and businesses.

3 tips to get started with personalisation 2.0 

  1. Treat your personalisation strategy seriously to deliver tangible business benefits. Carefully think about what can it achieve? Plan where in your digital estate it makes sense to deploy it? (this might not always be in an obvious way)
  2. Don’t underestimate the human side of personalisation. Although we have sophisticated technology, there will always need to be the human touch to establish rules, set guiding principles and to monitor goals.
  3. Think about what “explicit personalisation” can do for you and your customers. Assess what are they already telling us.

For more details on any aspect, why not listen to the full conversation #WhatIf…your current marketing efforts will never deliver effective personalisation?


Mando have a leading team of experts who live and breathe personalisation every day. To discuss any aspect in more detail, and set in place your ideal personalisation strategy, get in touch.