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How to avoid common personalisation mistakes

Brands personalise campaigns and messages to add value, and if done right, it can bring immense worth to both their customers and their business as a whole. The power of personalisation is undoubtedly strong, making users feel far more connected to us, as a brand than they ever could before. However, with that being said, there are occasions where personalisation can go wrong, terribly wrong. This can often be detrimental for business – making it look inauthentic and sloppy.

To make sure you don’t fall into the dreaded trap, we’ve outlined six common personalisation mistakes and how to avoid them. These include using the wrong data, failing to consider device usage, neglecting to test, using personalisation too soon, and being too broad with your efforts.

1. Outdated Data

You can collect all the data in the world, but without the ability to understand it, and we mean to understand it properly, data can be irrelevant. Here’s a post on which metrics you should be monitoring on your website.

It’s crucial to act upon insights, as any attempt at personalisation will likely go to waste without using correct data that has been interpreted correctly.

A huge 84% of consumers say they like to be treated like a person, not a number, which is why we should take the time to understand who our users are, and exactly what they want – hence successfully creating tailored and personalised content specifically for them. However, while 84% of consumers feel that way, only 27% of marketers/business owners say that data interpretation is an obstacle. This more often than not can result in the wrong data being used, meaning that personalised messages will likely be redundant, with little to no impact on the end-user.

It’s important to look at all the data available to you, these data variants include:

  • Contextual data – such as the device and browser users, or the shopper’s location, weather and time and date of interactions.
  • Demographic data – such as gender, age, city, country.
  • Behavioural data – which will give you a more accurate picture of customers preferences and habits. These will be behaviours such as browsing data, abandoned cart data, content consumed, keywords searched, and visitor frequency, as well as purchasing data, of course.

Once you have this data, ask questions. What does the data tell you about your target audience? How can you ensure they are being served with content they want to see? Are they getting a true personalised website experience? This is key.

2. Outdated Data

While using the wrong data, or not using any data or insights at all isn’t great, it’s equally important to recognise that your data might be outdated. Customer data is critical to personalisation, but this data can, and will eventually expire, and outdated customer data is another personalisation mistake you should be avoiding at all costs. Customer behaviour is bound to change over time. There will be peaks and troughs in engagement, with wants and needs evolving. There will also be multiple time-based variables responsible for this change in customer behaviour, including seasons, holidays, trends, life events, ageing etc. This all means that your customer data has a life span and will expire. So it’s really important to regularly check in on the data and refresh it as often as possible.

This can be an automated process, however, going through the data needs to be a human task. We’d recommend reviewing your data and insights as often as possible to start with, to get an idea of how often the data changes, then you can work out a long term plan of possible reviewing data and insights months, or quarterly – depending on the sector in which you operate.

3. Failing to customise experiences based on device

90% of consumers say that they will use multiple devices when making purchases online. This is where eCommerce personalisation becomes powerful. But if your business hasn’t set up each data source correctly, a consumer will have to start over whenever they move from one channel to the next. They will see that they are getting personalised messages here and there, rather than consistently. You’ll want to make sure that tracking is working across all channels and customer touchpoints. You need to review this regularly to ensure that no glitching or tracking issues are arising.

When thinking about device usage it’s also a good idea to be mindful of the types of content users are likely to digest. More often than not, users will use their smartphones for quick searches. Take car insurance for an example, they might even grab a quote or two. However, the key difference is that out of these users, only a small percentage will go ahead with the purchase. Instead, they will wait until they are home to boot up their laptop and come back to the buying process. It is easier to read key facts on a laptop compared to mobile, and it’s deemed more secure.

4. Neglecting to Test

After you apply personalisation to any of your marketing activities, it’s essential you test how these are performing. This is usually done by comparing the results with results before the personalisation. However, this can be tricky. To evaluate the effect of new personalised content on a specific target group, you need to compare it to the effect of the default content on the same target group. This is crucial, to gain reliable results. Make sure you benchmark activity prior and post personalisation to combat this and to analyse the impact this activity is having on your overall strategy and performance.

5. Using Personalisation’s too Soon

When using personalisation for your website, and other digital activities such as emails, it requires a lot of data collection. This information will allow you to create a massive backlog of content designed to facilitate the customer experience. However, this is a whole process in itself, and something that should not be rushed. Your efforts will likely go to waste if personalisation is rushed and you haven’t formulated a clear vision to drive the strategy forward. You must devise a strategy, which includes everything such as what will users see and when? Along with looking at the why. Why do they need to see a particular piece of content when they hit a certain touchpoint? What is the value?

The point here is to continue outlining your activity and the user’s journey while asking questions along the way to ensure it’s foolproof.

6. Being too broad

Personalised marketing campaigns need to start somewhat broad (not completely, but loosely, sticking to the overarching theme), and over time they should become more narrow as they feel more personal that way. That’s a mistake that’s often made. Campaigns become too narrow and focused straight away without building up the relationship in the first instance.

Once that relationship has been formed, personalisation can go full steam ahead. If language and tone of voice are the only things you know to personalise your campaign, then this is a broad approach and not personalised enough.

Of course, personalised marketing campaigns should become more ‘narrow’ as you learn more. To do this, you’ll need to make note of everything we said above about the importance of data, along with beginning to discover high performing and relevant keywords, using geolocalisation along with remarketing ads to target users that have already interacted with your brand.

We hope you found this useful, and can now go away and start planning your very own personalised campaigns. Don’t forget to follow us on socials, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to stay up to date with all things digital. If you have any questions, then feel free to contact us today.

  • Written by Simon Proctor, January 28 2021