Optimise to Personalise: What’s The Difference?

by Murray Howe

posted on 04-02-2019

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Peter Drucker

Personalisation is the black gold of marketing today.

Finally, marketing technology has progressed to the stage where marketers feel the time has come to put the John Wanamaker bogeyman to bed. Through the promised power of Personalisation marketers hope to cut waste, improve efficiency, and restore their credibility with customers and their business.

The 2019 Digital Trends Report by eConsultancy and Adobe shows marketers everywhere touting “Personalisation!” in their marketing plans, demanding ‘Personalisation strategy’ from their agencies and data-driven marketing that focus on the individual.

But in proselytizing for it, what are we really asking for, and how do we really set about getting it?

In this SEVEN PART series we will explore what we really mean by Personalisation; the implications for personalisation at scale in the business, particularly in marketing & experience delivery teams; a target state for personalisation; a roadmap for personalisation in practice; and finally, operating models for supporting these outcomes.

Part 1 – Optimise to Personalise: Why, and what is the difference?

There is confusion in the market about a focus on ‘personalisation’ over ‘optimisation’ as two different things, leading to progress paralysis and a stray from low hanging commercial outcomes. Teams get stuck solving for the ‘perfect customer record’ needed for their personalisation end state, placing other optimisation related activity on hold ad infinitum. This does have to be.

What do we mean by ‘Personalisation’?

Personalise (ˈpɜːsənəˌlaɪz) vb (tr). To render personal rather than impersonal. To make or alter so as to meet individual needs. To attribute human or personal qualities.

According to the dictionary, the definition of Personalisation fits well with marketing’s goal and Peter Drucker’s observation. However, it is in how many of us apply the definition that creates the confusion and paralysis.

For the purpose of marketing, Personalisation has two practical applications: 1) To render the experience personalised to the individual. E.g. “Welcome back Murray”; and, 2) To optimise the experience to the purpose of the interaction, based on what we know. E.g. “Welcome back, here is the information we think you were interested in last time”.

For many marketers, the rhetoric is focused on the former (1) often at the expense of the latter (2).

As to the relative potential commercial opportunity, anyone familiar with the Marketing Funnel will quickly realise there are many more anonymous interactions with potential customers than there are with known or authenticated ones.

There is black gold in those anonymous interactions!

So, in the context of experience interactions, Personalisation is not so much focused on optimising the experience of the visitor, as it is focused on optimising to the purpose of the visit (or interaction).

For example, I don’t need to know who you are in order to render the experience personal (enough) to optimise the purpose of your visit for a superior customer & commercial outcome.

Therefore, our Personalisation strategy is really an Experience Optimisation strategy, one focused on optimising the visit rather than the visitor.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is one business using personalisation to help optimise donor response and conversion. Discover their Experience Optimisation strategy in the video below.

Read the next part of this blog series on Optimise to Personalise to discover the implications for personalisation at scale in your business.

Adobe Symposium is back in Sydney on the 27th-28th June, 2019. Discover the latest digital trends for personalised experiences, hear from local and global brands about their transformation journeys, and get inspired to become an experience maker. Register now.

Topics: Digital Transformation

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