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14th September 2022

The challenges of personalised content

Getting personal...

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Daniel Westlake

Next time you open up your Netflix account, take a moment to consider how it looks. Note how your favourite genres are neatly stacked over one another. How new recommendations are always front and centre. You might even spot how your best-loved shows have different artwork.

Personalisation isn’t just a quirk of good design; it’s an essential part of your marketing strategy. Today’s discerning consumers have come to expect personalised content at every touchpoint. A first name in an email. A customised app dashboard. Gamification of their progress.

As consumers become more fickle – after all, there is always another competitor waiting in the wings – marketers need to step it up. According to the Next in Personalisation 2021 report, 71% of consumers expect personalised interactions. More than three-quarters get frustrated when that doesn’t happen.

Personalisation in the wild

On top of the methods mentioned above, we might see personalisation in formats like:

  • Customised landing pages
  • Milestone notifications
  • Behaviour-based alerts
  • Targeted promotions
  • Visual reports.

Of course, personalisation comes with its challenges: namely data quality, cross-channel delivery and real-time delivery. But done right, it can offer us opportunities to develop the customer experience with improved interactions and one-to-one communication at scale.

The challenges of personalisation

As the privacy and personalisation paradox continues to plague marketers, getting the process right isn’t always easy. The first issue to address is data quality.

Data quality

We’ve talked about getting insights from customer data before – and our personalisation can only be as good as the data we have.

To identify good data, it helps to spot what counts as bad. It may be outdated, irrelevant or even incorrect. It’s also time to move away from third-party data and stick to first, particularly as Google has announced its depreciation of third-party cookies.

Don’t be fooled into thinking quantity = quality either. We need to segment and identify the best value data to make it work for us. And of course, there is compliance to consider – ensuring systems are secure and in keeping with GDPR.

Cross-channel personalisation

Never has the customer journey been as fragmented as it is today. On average, users will communicate with businesses on 10 different channels – and can switch between three devices to complete one task.

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So, how can we reach them on all touchpoints? We need to develop a 360 view of our customers – identifying how they interact with different channels such as email and mobile apps. This helps to create a customer dataset based on behaviours, which can be used across all platforms.

Real-time personalisation

This consolidated dataset will only work in your favour if you can deliver in real-time. Allow your systems to collect data live, but make sure it’s set up correctly. If your data is not configured correctly, then problems will arise in real-time too – such as irrelevant notifications.

Multiple content requirements

A different personalisation option for every scenario is a huge drain on resource, both from content teams and testers. Rather than restricting content, we should promote or prioritise content based on personalisation. If customer Y does X, then Z alert will work best and so forth.

Opportunities to optimise your personalisation

Not only do today’s customers expect personalisation; they’re also more likely to return if their content is tailored. This is especially pertinent in the online learning environment. In one study, supported personalised learning was found to have a “statistically significant” positive effect on students.

So, how can we make the most of the opportunities available to us?

Creating personalised learning experiences

Personalised learning experiences involve tracking progress and assigning content based on this. We can start with personalised dashboards, pointing users down different learning paths. Later, we might offer learning based on course completion and personal attributes, such as users’ roles or interests.

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To encourage communication, collaborative learning features are essential. Consider tools like forums to promote social interaction on your platform.

Enabling one-to-one communication at scale

Whether you have 1 or 1 million members, personalisation allows you to deliver one-to-one experiences at scale. Users will feel valued knowing their content and dashboards have been tailored to their progress. In return, we see increased user engagement and loyalty.

Improving interactions and engagement

The material benefits of personalisation include higher revenue through better user experiences. We see increased retention and conversion rates – with up to 25% revenue lift, depending on the sector. In a study on mobile interaction, users became more loyal thanks to ease of use and increased trust through personalisation.

Making it personal: key takeaways

While personalisation and targeting at scale may seem like chalk and cheese, we can work with both. The best practices for optimisation should always be:

  • Use quality data
  • Develop a 360 view of customers
  • Allocate resource based on personalisation
  • Consider the user experience throughout the design process.

We all like to feel special. By leveraging technology, we can make our customers feel unique and watch them return time and again.

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