It’s about the experience
Walk into a cafe where the staff know you well. They will say "hello" in a way that has far more meaning than if you were complete strangers. And they will prepare your favourite coffee without you asking.
It doesn’t feel like a "personalised experience". It’s relevant, appropriate and warm. Done well, personalisation doesn’t look like personalisation. It’s just a great experience.
The internet is becoming the internet of experiences
We are all in the business of creating experiences now: we have got more data and more opportunities to reach people than ever.
But that also risks privacy invasion. A cafe owner knowing my favourite coffee is one thing, having them pop up on the internet talking about flat whites is quite another.
The one thing that is often missing is consideration of how we will make people feel. Which is a big problem, given that feelings typically drive behaviour change.
Just because we can doesn’t mean we should
We must avoid the temptation to tinker with the individual parts just because we can, and instead remind ourselves that we’re looking to make the whole customer experience better. People don’t care about organisational silos.
They simply want a great experience across the board – be that more effortless, more rewarding or more useful. But it’s difficult.
How do you set yourself up to engage consistently as people hop from website to phone to store? How do you evolve the way you engage as you dip on and off people’s radars over time? And how do you do all of this in a way that doesn’t make people think they’re being stalked across the internet?
There are three things to remember about people that will help create great experiences and use hyper-personalisation to your advantage:
Don’t bash me over the head
Great experiences don’t incessantly shout at you until you finally give in and say: "Oh, go on then." If we looked at many brands (and their communications) through customers’ eyes, we would feel the full force of the targeting arms race that is underway.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking about hyper-personalisation purely from a brand’s perspective: remember, you’re playing a part in the lives of real people.
There’s only so much I can take in
While the touchpoints and data-points marketers have to play with increase daily, humans only have two eyes, two ears and one brain.
Marketing is efficient at reaching the right people with stuff we know they’re interested in, but there’s only so much interest people can muster.
Very rarely do they want a brand to be "always-on" in their lives: we need to be "appropriately-on". Hyper-personalised experiences, done well, are hyper-appropriate ones.
Don’t personalise your way out of my conversation
Brands have always played a role in helping people establish their identities. Great brands can do that because they have created a common understanding among people.
In the excitement about hyper-personalisation, never attempt to personalise the brand to individuals because that would diminish a brand’s common appeal. Lose that, and you lose people congregating around your brand and talking about it.
It’s time we started thinking how hyper-personalisation might play out in the relationships we aim to build between brands and their customers.
What people really want is for brands to be hyper-relevant to them: to create experiences that are personal and helpful, not personalised. And, in doing so, to do what good brands have always done: reduce complexity of choice.
Up Close And Personal
What is the most private thing you would be happy to share? Photos of the kids. It’s weird when you write it down.
What product or service would convince you to hand over your private data? Anything where I get something appropriate back. Like a mortgage offer.
Everyone knows this about me… I used to be a newsreader.
What’s a good experience you’ve had with brand personalisation? Amazon Fire TV Stick.
How personal is too personal? Anything that makes me go: "How do you know that?"
By Ed Beard, Chief Strategy Officer, Kitcatt Nohr