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The impact of personalization: Is your marketing missing the mark?

Author: Lindy Porter


Fact: personalization isn’t an option in marketing anymore. Overwhelmed consumers crave connection in every interaction with a brand. Their time is valuable, they know what good looks like, and if you fall short you’ll be off their list faster than you can say “fire sale”. And empty personalization won’t cut it. Remember when you could walk into a store, or your favorite restaurant, and be greeted by name? Hi Jo, want the usual today? THAT is customer personalization, and the digital equivalent is what brands should be aiming for today. And no, that doesn’t mean just slapping their name in a pop-up form once they’ve authenticated. You need to truly know and understand your customers to win their loyalty, essentially predicting what they need before they even ask.

The rise of privacy restrictions, consumer awareness, and third-party cookie deprecation has thrown marketers into a tailspin, and the result for many is resorting back to outdated, mass marketing tactics that ignore the individual. But while consumers are paying more attention to their online privacy, they’re still crying out for a personalized customer experience that makes them feel like they’re not just a number in a massive crowd of no-name shoppers.

Which means marketers need to invest in better solutions to figure out who their customers are without relying on archaic, privacy-infringing methods, while still delivering an A+ user experience.

Seem impossible? It’s not. And it’s certainly not out of reach for smart, forward-thinking marketers.

What consumers want from brands

There’s a reason brands want to nail customer personalization:  It works.

The idea of personalization isn’t new to marketers. For years, brands have aimed to tailor online (even in-person) customer journeys to each user’s specific context and preferences. And it’s no wonder: the research shows consumers crave this kind of customized marketing.

In a recent McKinsey study, 71% of consumers said they expect personalization from companies they buy from, with 72% wanting these brands to recognize them not just as a target to track, but as individuals with unique needs. A whopping 76% of customers get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.

Consumers are also very clear on the specific types of content and marketing they want from brands. For example, McKinsey found personalized communications help convince 76% of consumers to purchase from a brand and 78% of them to repurchase and recommend the company to other shoppers.

Additionally, a study from Deloitte Digital found customers value personalized online features that describe their preferences and make them a human and not just a random site visitor. This includes capabilities like detailed profile information, custom product recommendations and pricing, delivery updates and statuses, and robust wish lists/favorites that allow for tagging and saving.

Clearly, consumers aren’t shy about what they want from brands, and marketers have – for the most part – taken note and tried to deliver.

Why a personalized customer experience is challenging

If marketers know that consumers want custom experiences that make them feel recognized as individuals, then what’s the hang-up? You’d think that marketers with access to huge amounts of digital data would be able to accomplish personalized experiences no problem.

The reality is quite the opposite. Despite cookies, tracking, and every other form of “modern” customer data reporting, marketers still face a challenge of delivering a personalized customer experience that hits the mark.  

According to Deloitte’s study, more than 50% of consumers say personalization tends to feel off-target, with their preferences not recognized or their desires not being met in-the-moment. And while the companies Deloitte surveyed said they “personalize” an average of 56% of their customer experiences, consumers said they only see 38% of such experiences as personalized.

This gap between what consumers want and see versus what brands think they’re delivering can be attributed to a variety of factors. One key problem, however, is still third-party cookies. More often than not, consumers see this outdated approach to marketing    as broken and invasive, indicating a brand is more interested in gathering information and “stalking” them than it is in understanding and engaging with them as human beings.

Third-party cookies can also only personalize so much due to their lack of live  . Despite many systems claiming they’re “up-to-date” on a consumer’s profile, the reality is that if you want to deliver a retargeting campaign or ad series, you may not know if it’s still the right time to show that content to that particular customer.

For example, let’s say you’re a retailer who sells personal care products. You set up an “abandoned cart” email campaign that reminds customers about what they were interested in purchasing two days after they left the cart. However, your internal systems don’t actually speak to each other in real time, which means that a customer named Penny who went back to her cart a day later to complete her purchase gets an irrelevant “abandoned cart” message.

And Penny now feels like a random, unrecognized internet shopper, not a person who’s unique and important to your brand.

Why and how to do customer personalization the right way

The more marketers can craft and deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right consumer, the more likely that person will develop brand loyalty and turn into a long-term customer.

This isn’t just a theory. The McKinsey study found 78% of consumers chose, recommended, or paid more for brands offering them personalized services or experiences. And Deloitte found 69% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that customizes experiences.

Brands that personalize also see higher growth metrics than companies that don’t prioritize this strategy. According to Deloitte, customer personalization results in a 1.5x greater increase in revenue per customer and loyalty metrics for companies that actively customize their marketing and CX efforts. And McKinsey found brands who focus on personalization saw an average of 40% more revenue growth than those lagging in adopting the same practices.  

 Our own clients report the same impressive results, check out these headlines!

So, how exactly do you do customer personalization the right way? You enable hyper-specific, one-to-one personalization through first-party data captured and activated in live-time.

With a first-party data solution, you can create a personalized customer experience thanks to a centralized, single profile for each of your individual visitors. Innovative solutions use AI and advanced algorithms to help you compile these pictures of who your customers are in live-time. Instantly resolving identity with their preferences and how they’re shopping across not just your site or app, but across multiple domains, devices, and more is key to relevant and effective personalization. To really do personalization right, your data solution must capture AND activate the data in true live-time, otherwise your personalization efforts will fail.

With live-time identity resolution you never have to worry about whether your data's up-to-date. You don't need to stress about the relevancy of your messaging and communications, or if it will alienate customers who don't think it's relevant to them. And you won't have to play guessing games about how to do customer personalization based on third-party cookies that are, in reality, already extinct.

Consumers are desperate for personalized customer experiences. Celebrus empowers you to create impactful interactions while still respecting their privacy.  

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