Personalization is a catch all phrase in the digital world. In reality, personalization can be executed in many ways. For example, a desktop display ad targeted to thousands based on a generic search term, all the way to an individualized dynamic product offer email. Yes both of these are personalized, just at a different levels.

Personalization can be defined by the size of the audience, the specificity of the content that is being presented, the channel being used and even the timing of the message. The mix of these determines the "personalization" level. The findings are that the more personalized, i.e. catered to an individual level the better performing the KPIs. Though a great personalization mix at a group or segment level can provide higher performing ROIs too. The challenge to marketers is to optimize the personalization level and the cost to do this, and depending on the industry, the product or CTA, performance will vary.

The direct to consumer retail industry is advanced in personalization efforts. eCommerce sites like Amazon employ highly targeted personalized product offerings. For example, when I load my Amazon page I am hit at the top with "customer since, recent orders and top categories for me." Scrolling down the page I see "Related to Items You've Viewed," "Recommended for You in Kindle Books," "Inspired by Your Browsing History." You can't get more personalized with today's technology.

What do you need to personalize? Creativity, users profiles, orchestration, omni-channel platforms, and technology [DMH, CRM, CMS, Reporting, Personalization platform]. A company called Lytics for example offers a customer data platform that helps brands orchestrate relevant marketing with built-in data science. They have a robust API capability.

The variables used to create personalization strategies and campaigns include:
Target [audience, persona, segment, group or individual]
Tactics [eMail, ads, DPM, social and lots of others]
Display [desktop, tablet, mobile]
Content [text, imagery, video, sound]
Context [time of day, type of device, referral source]
Behaviors [recently viewed]
History [past interactions, past purchases]

If you don't know much about the individual then create an experience on what you do know, which should be at least their device, their location and the referral source. Let's say you have some CRM and POS data that can be appended with 3rd party DMP data, this will provide the ability for strong segmented personalization be it one or cross-channel. For 1:1 personalization you need a unified view of your customers, real-time integrations, decisions and actions, a personalization vendor, and possibly some machine learning.

A company called RichRelevance collects your data and uses a powerful machine-learning engine to select the most relevant, data-driven product recommendations for each customer interaction. They can do this across all touch points including web, mobile, email, store, and call center. They also support browse & navigation and content personalization.

House list eMails is the most productive online marketing tactic. Here is why. According to the 2016 DMA online marketing survey, eMail has an average 124% ROI and 92% of those 18+ use email. This is the reason why 74% of DTC companies use eMail for lead generation. eMail also has high personalization capabilities. Rich Relevance found that revenue is 5.7 times higher in emails that employ personalization.

Some of the items you can personalization in eMail include From, Subject Line, Copy (custom fields), Imagery and Dynamic Content, which can support Re-Engagement, Product Recommendations, and a host of other opportunities.

In my last article Eyes and Thumbs Driving mobile Experience, I discussed how you might be able to present a personalized app design based on device type, sex, age and how the device is held. This is a new level of personalization that would help to increase app adoption due to enhancing the user experience through a more appropriate user interface.

Personalization is an evolving marketing opportunity that is high on the to do list for digital companies looking to become advanced in their capabilities. The Adobe 2017 Digital Maturity report says that 78% of digitally mature companies automate personalized content for the web and 74% for mobile. Eighty-eight percent say that automation has led to an improvement in desktop KPIs and 91% for mobile. Also, 63% use dynamic content in eMails, 52% personalize eMail content, and 54% use responsive mobile eMails. eMail personalization is a good place to start.

If you want to become a digitally mature company then embracing personalization is critical going forward. Personalization efforts can be at the 1:1, segment or audience levels but the goal is to impact KPI performance while achieving ROIs. Look at house list eMails as a way to test out personalization since eMails can be personalized at many levels depending on customer data.

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