Let’s step back and look at how many companies are considering personalization these days. Almost without exception, every retailer I’ve spoken with says it is a short- to medium-term priority. (Full disclosure. I believe if it’s not, it definitely should be). And many believe that they are already doing it. But here’s the disconnect. And most of those have privately told me that they don’t think they are doing it well.So what’s the problem? Well, once we started working our way through it, a few common themes emerged. First. It’s that changing definition. 10 years ago, personalization wasn’t really personalization. It was more closely aligned with segmentation. Personalization in 2009 was about grouping the same demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral segments together for mass campaigns. And that’s largely because of reason #2. That was all that technology could do at that time. (Remember, your kids were probably still being taught cursive at that time and flip phones were cool). Today, the tools and technology exist to know who I am, what my favorite color is, and my dietary preferences. And this evolution in technology has marketers playing constant catch-up. And that’s probably the biggest issue we see. Treating customers on an individual basis and creating personalized experiences on a 1:1 level takes planning, careful consideration, and time to ensure it is done correctly. It has to be an organizational focus. I was at a conference recently where someone said “Everyone needs to stop treating personalization as a project and really start thinking of it as a product”. That really resonated with me. It has to be an ongoing initiative with support from the entire company. Personalization has many moving parts and doing it properly means integrating data sources and cleansing current data to make it work.
I get it. It looks scary. It looks overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. The trick is to find the right partner (not just a vendor). Someone who lives and breathes data and starts with your goals BEFORE even thinking about recommending a solution.And let me tell you, once you do it you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do it sooner. The ability to view each customer as a single user, to connect with them in any channel. To recognize them and reward them for their engagement with your brand. To build that CONNECTION with them. Because loyalty is not about economics (dollars and points). True and long-lasting loyalty is an EMOTION.