What the heck is personalization?

What the heck is personalization?

May 08, 2017

What I’ve learned from working in the software industry is that the word “personalization” can mean many different things to many different people. My intent in this blog series is to explore the different meanings as they pertain to various industries: Mobile/Utilities, Gaming, Advertising Technology, Retail/IoT, eCommerce, Loyalty, Energy, and Travel. This edition will be primarily focused on Personalization via the Convergence of Mobile and Retail.

As most blogs do nowadays, I thought I’d begin with one of my own experiences.

A while back I was in the market for a new pair of trainers. I drove to the mall down the street – without doing any research beforehand – and started doing some “window shopping”. To be honest, I wasn’t committed to buying a pair of shoes that day, but I figured I’d at least take a look.

It’s important to note that I hate shopping – too many choices, too little time. So, needless to say, I rarely go to the mall.

When I arrived at the mall it was complete chaos, and the options were endless. I walked past Foot Locker, but it was too busy, so I kept going. Same with the New Balance store, so I took a deep breath and kept trekking – off to Nike. As I walked within close proximity of the Nike store I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. Was it my mother calling to say I was late for family dinner??  Not quite, but what happened was still a surprise.

Nike had sent me a coupon for a 15% discount on a new pair of the same shoes I was wearing. I immediately looked to my left and right, up and down…convinced someone was spying on me.  How else could they have known where I was, and how did they know I was wearing an old pair of the same shoes?! Anyway, I was persuaded…$95 later…

Ok, enough about me.  While researching the reason behind this highly-personalized approach to selling a pair of shoes, a few things stuck out:

  • According to Gartner, real-time recommendations based on consumer behavior deliver 10-15x the response rates than other approaches. Creating meaningful context for your customers via fast interaction can maximize experience and drive revenue growth.
    • If Foot Locker and/or New Balance had provided the same timely, personalized offer, I might have been more willing to go into their stores!
  • Moments of intent can be influenced or created
    • As mentioned earlier, I was not committed to buying anything when I entered the mall. The 15% discount I received was enough to create a moment of intent, however.
  • Real-time consumer behavior must be paired with contextual behavior
    • If Nike had sent me an offer for a 15% discount on a tennis racket, for example, I would not have been as inclined to walk into the store.
    • Nike was able to identify who I was, in real-time, and send a hyper-personalized offer to my phone in milliseconds – earning $95 in additional revenue.
  • As reported in the IBM 2017 Customer Experience Index (CEI) Study, only 21 percent [of brands] provide location-based services to drive in-context, proximity-sensitive messaging.
  • The same survey notes, “Nearly four in 10 brands do not have any personalization capabilities online, and 74 percent do not offer any personalization of the mobile app.”

As I stated early in this post, we’ve witnessed a vast cross-pollination of personalization within various industries.  I’ll be posting a few more, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. How does personalization affect your industry? How are you personalizing offers to your customers and prospects? Any related anecdotes (or shopping advice)?

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