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The Personalization Bandwagon is Leading Brands in the Wrong Direction

The personalization conversation continues to evolve daily as brands learn how to deliver personalized ads to consumers while adhering to privacy concerns and expectations. But as more brands jump on the personalization bandwagon, their credibility is losing traction. Consumers don’t want just personalization for the sake of it; they want good and meaningful personalization. They want to feel like they are the only customer a brand is speaking to — not put into a bucket with others.

Brands that claim to have 1:1 personalization strategies in place without having the proper tools, or understanding how to use them, are ruining what it means for consumers. So much so that taking the haphazard approach can be detrimental to the consumer-brand relationship. 

For brands looking to provide a strong and meaningful strategy to consumers, consider these takeaways on how to balance personalization and privacy — and what to avoid.

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Focus on an omnichannel presence

Customers leverage a number of channels and devices, so knowing how to deliver a personalized message and on what platform or device is a challenge for marketers. Research from PwC shows that 44% of consumers shop from their mobile phone, 42% via smart home voice assistants, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, and 38% via a tablet. 

The channels and devices that consumers use to shop online are growing. It’s up to the brands to figure out how to target them on the right device or channel and at the right time. 

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: What message would you want to see on your social media platforms, email newsletter or website? By investing in technology that supports an omnichannel presence, marketers have the resources and knowledge to target customers at a more personal level on the channels and devices they’re most active on — providing a relevant, seamless, and consistent message throughout the customer journey.

Understand how to use your data

Analyzing and understanding consumer data is key to building a personalization strategy. Brands should start with profile data, like demographics and preferences, and then evaluate contextual data like the weather of a customer’s location, time of day, and current events. This data is key because you don’t want to deliver a message that promotes winter boots to a customer on the beach.

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An important component of gathering consumer data is to understand the difference between first and third-party data. First-party data tells brands who a customer is and what they like. Third-party data, on the other hand, is vague and assumes who a customer is rather than taking time to get to know each on a personal level.

Once all data is gathered, both offline as well as online data, then brands have a better understanding of their customers’ lifestyles and how to cater their message accordingly. With the right technology in place, brands can achieve this knowledge without compromising consumer privacy

This brings us to our last — and likely most critical — takeaway.
Balance privacy and personalization

Many brands on the personalization bandwagon may be forgetting the importance of balancing personalization with consumer privacy. Now more than ever, consumers are extra attentive to how their data is being used. And tech giants like Apple are giving consumers more choice whether to allow brands to track their data across websites and apps. 

Finding the right balance is difficult and can become very complex. But the industry data speaks for itself — 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, who remember, and who provide relevant offers and recommendations, while 81% of consumers believe they have little to no control of their data.

The personalization bandwagon is full of interruptive and irrelevant information and tactics that don’t add value to the customer experience but instead stand in the way of building a personalized experience. Re-targeting, for example, is a tactic many use to target a consumer with a product based on browsing habits. However, due to the lack of data and personalization in this approach, a brand risks delivering a targeted message about a product that the consumer may have already purchased, hence compromising the consumer’s trust.

To truly achieve a 1:1 experience for consumers, brands must avoid the personalization bandwagon and instead leverage modern technology that can provide the right data, support an omnichannel presence and most importantly, balance consumer privacy and personalization. 

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