Ever since marketers started to focus on personalisation, a debate has been raging about where it fits within the marketing mix.
Before we go any further, let me make the most important point: this should not be a discussion about one medium or tactic versus another. Anyone who tells you to pump all of your marketing budget into one channel or one task at the expense of all others has got the wrong end of an over-simplified stick.
The fact of the matter is, personalisation needs to work in conjunction with other marketing activities, and when done right, makes them all more potent.
Most brands require long-term brand-building efforts supported by activation to drive short-term benefits and mass personalisation falls under the header of the latter. When I say mass personalisation, what I mean is personalisation at scale. It involves communicating with lots of people but incorporating a sense of personalisation to increase relevance.
As consumers, we are already conditioned to expect some form of personalisation. Netflix, Amazon and increasingly local retailers are applying these data driven approaches starting with recommendations based on things people like you also enjoyed or bought. This can be highly persuasive given it tends to be based on insights from data and algorithms.
And while catalogues and direct mail were the precursors to what we now know as mass personalisation, today communications in many channels have the opportunity to be more personalised and more relevant to the recipient including catch-up and connected TV, social ads, email, digital display and search.
For example, let’s look at cars. If you have a baby on the way, you’re going to be looking for a very different car than someone who has finally got the kids out of the house and is enjoying an empty nest.
So while both groups can be targeted with a broad-reaching campaign for a particular car brand, it would be a lost opportunity to email all of them with a test drive invite for the same vehicle using the same incentive.
Including personalisation within your marketing strategy in no way suggests there is diminished value in brand-building activities nor are we talking about replacing them. In fact, activity such as TV, catalogues, out-of-home or other broad reach approaches are more important than ever in today’s tough economic environment. But that’s a rant for another day.
The challenge for marketers who are yet to dive into personalisation is where to find the budget for it. If that’s you, consider this: not including it in your marketing mix could actually cost your business money.
Mass personalisation has a massive impact on the effectiveness of brand campaigns and a well-rounded strategy that combines upper and lower funnel activities will close the loop. Someone may see your TV ad or billboard then visit your website then forget about your brand. A more insightful personalised ad on social media could be what it takes to get them to actually make a purchase.
Personalisation is fast becoming an integral part of many retailers’ marketing mix but it doesn’t have to be big, complicated or expensive. Start small by getting your tech, media and data people together to focus on finding actionable insights that drive relevance which in turn will drive revenue.
The future is coming one day at a time so now is as good a time as any to start. Gather your team and run some tests. It’s the fastest way to settle the debate about where personalisation can add potency to your marketing plan.