Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The rise and rise of personalisation in marketing

Marketers have long known the power of personalisation. It’s common sense really. The more relevant you make your marketing messages to anyone consuming them, the more impact you’re likely to make.

Researchers at the University of Texas studied why people seem to love personalised experiences and their research suggests that it has to do with our desire for control. If something is made exclusively for you it indicates that you had something to do with its creation, and therefore, you are in control.  Which means you’re special and important. Which means you like it.
Back in the day
But if we rewind fifty years, personalisation (as we now think of it) wasn’t possible to any fine degree. Those were the days where one-size-fits-all generic messaging was king; not because that’s the way marketers wanted it, but because it was all that technology allowed.

So let’s rewind a little less to just thirty years ago. Personalised direct mail print arrived and for the first time we started getting pamphlets through the post that would include our name (often over and over again) in the copy. Or lines like “…this winter, as the cold winds whistle past 22 Acacia Avenue, it’s time to consider double-glazing’.  It felt like rocket science at the time.
So what happened twenty years ago to fuel the rise of yet further personalisation? Come on people, think. Any ideas? Yes – the internet and more specifically the advent of e-tailers like Amazon who learned to take personalisation to a whole new level. Now our buying patterns were up for analysis, even our browsing patterns, allowing for genuine one-to-one recommendations to become a reality. It all felt a bit spooky at first, often getting skewed at Christmas when you bought gifts for friends that became part of your profile but over time the recommendations that this particular Amazon customer gets are strikingly tempting.  
Advertisers quickly took advantage of serving the right advert to the right prospect at the right time based on search and browsing data so that, miraculously, minutes after doing a search on home insurance for example, adverts would appear with offers for … well, you know the rest.
Personalisation today
Today, when we are bombarded with so much information, if we get highly targeted and relevant information that has been tailored to our needs and desires, it has a much better chance of cutting through. Fact.
So personalisation works and advances in data analytics and CRM technology mean that precision targeting is the norm. Or is it? The truth is that many marketers have been slow to adopt personalisation across all media and in particular video. Despite the fact that video consumption has grown exponentially over the last five years, many marketers doggedly continue to deliver single, generic videos to the masses. In fact, they use fifty year old thinking, despite the incredible advances made elsewhere.
With the right tools, marketers could have the very best of all possible worlds, with highly targeted personalisation combined with the power of video. It’s the next natural progression in the rise and rise of personalisation.  If you’re in marketing and it’s not on your radar, it really should be. It’s only a matter of time before it will be on your competitor’s.


  1. Personalization is only going to continue to get "worse" as technology continues to improve. Sometimes, it's great - and I think those times are when you don't even realize it's happening. But sometimes it can be kind of creepy.

    "Hello Fred, you were at Walmart the other day weren't you? In the tools aisle? Here's a 10% off coupon..."

    H-how did you... I NEED AN ADULT!

    Fred | O'Malley Hansen Communications


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