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Personalisation or Individualisation? Part 1

In Minority Report, the character played by actor Tom Cruise is bombarded with personalised messages on virtual advertising boards. It appears that he receives targeted and personalised messages based on the information the company has on his shopping habits and perceived behaviours.  He feels bombarded, overwhelmed and irritated.  

This isn’t advertising of the future – this is the same feeling that we get when we open our inbox to find messages like, “Did you forget something?”, “Here’s some more of that thing you were looking at” and “Super deals on that thing we saw you liked – just for you, honest!” Inside there will be a link to a random item that we browsed the previous day while we were waiting for a train. And this action is repeated in a similar way, over and over and over, until the company hopes that we will eventually give in and buy the thing.

It acts like personalised advertising and it should be helpful. But it’s not. Because it feels like harassment and it insults our intelligence as a consumer. 

Sitecore allows an intelligent approach when considering how to avoid the pitfalls of individualisation. No one can argue with the idea that it could yield even greater results than that of personalisation. Nowadays mass marketing has been increasingly replaced by personalised marketing; the segmenting of customers based on the data gathered. This has allowed for greater appeal to specific user groups. The power of personalisation for the customer is proven. The rate of retail site conversions increasing by 51% is just one of many overwhelmingly positive statistics.

However, an exceptional individualised customer experience has the power to deliver more. Rather than targeting groups of people with shared characteristics, the single individual is targeted. Real-time analysis of the individual means that a user experience can be tailored in the moment to suit the preferences of the individual.

Today, with highly automated methods of gathering an incredible amount of data on an individual customer the challenge has become delivering marketing targeted to this individual, without it becoming an unwieldy and time consuming task, and without it feeling invasive.

A brief tech overview

The first challenge already has its solution. Presently, technology offers marketers different methods for coming to a better understanding of customers. The most exciting of which, may be AI. AI is a do-it-all tech. Not only can it analyse and predict patterns of behaviour but it can respond to this behaviour and make an appropriate response. Advanced Analytics and behaviour tracking provides marketers with a full picture of the customer; how they are interacting with your channels, on what devices, from where and when. Vast amounts of data can be be gathered from interactions with your channels and the information gathered can be used to trigger individualised marketing activity. Establishing trends and patterns without automation would prove an enormous task requiring an expensive amount of human resources. Automation techniques afford marketers the ability to offer an individualised experience that uses content to respond to a customer’s behaviour. This could be via something such as a microsite.  Automated messaging or chatbots can manage large volumes of individual customers with the ability to hand over to a human when required.

In Part two – What individualisation means for marketers and how to move personalisation into the realms of individualisation.

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