4 Common Personalization Myths Marketers Need to Stop Believing

Don't let these 4 personalization misconceptions hold you back from offering highly engaging personalized experiences.

VP Operations, Dynamic Yield

Delivering personalized user experiences across web, tablet and mobile platforms is no longer viewed as a unique feature by marketing professionals. It is regarded rather as an integral effort of any online marketing campaign, and has commanded, and is expected to continue to command, an increasing cut of cross-sectorial marketing budgets. As 78% of CMO’s see custom content as the future of marketing (source: Demandmetric), companies are rapidly getting on board and either allocating extensive ongoing resources towards developing “in-house” personalization capabilities, or are relying on personalization platforms to provide them with sophisticated personalization technology and services.

However, some companies (albeit fewer than ever before) are still wary of the personalization trend, as certain concerns are holding them back. While all concerns are legitimate and should be deliberated during the personalization process evaluation, some can simply be characterized as “myths”— whether they are simply unfounded or are rendered moot by technologies and capabilities which have undergone remarkable evolutions.

Following are 4 common “myths” of personalization holding marketers back from offering truly unique experiences to their users- and why they should not be concerned with any of them when deliberating their personalization strategy:

Myth #1: Personalization can only affect returning customers

One of the most common personalization myths lies at the core of how personalization is perceived. According to this mythical perception, personalized experiences can only be served once a huge amount of data is collected from a particular user regarding his/her attributes and past session interactions. However, the truth of the matter is that with the right technology in hand, a personalized user experience can be achieved for first-time visitors as well.

How can this be achieved? Simply put, by aggregating, normalizing and executing data easily collected from first-time users. For example, a user’s geo-location, whether, device, language and traffic source can all be ascertained immediately upon a user’s visit without any prior knowledge required. Additionally, with the right personalization capabilities, first timer interactions with the marketer’s media assets, such as page views, clicks, mouse hovers, videos watched etc. can be tracked, analyzed and made executable “on the fly”, to provide immediately available personalized experiences.

Myth #2: Real-time personalization is difficult to implement

The great marketing professionals are paid to do what they do best, which is to deliver compelling content, develop eye catching creatives and increase company ROI. However, many of these marketers are hesitant to use personalization technologies as these technologies are perceived to be too technical and difficult to implement within an existing, and already overwhelming, marketing technology stack. Moreover, many struggle to choose the right “champions” within the organization to command “ownership” of the implementation process, in order to drive these efforts toward success.

With the right personalization solutions, the setup of a personalization platform and customer onboarding is as easy as 1-2-3. Many solutions require minimal to virtually zero coding and most solutions which require some coding usually offer to do the implementation themselves. Furthermore, various platforms provide hands-on guidance and assistance with the construction of custom audiences and conditions, enabling real-time content triggers which run automatically. With the help of predictive modelling, some solutions can even automate optimization and segmentation processes, transforming the whole procedure seamlessly into existing workflows.

With requirements and demands evolve to include omnichannel and multi-platform personalization, dedicated managed services become increasingly important. It is therefore important to select a platform which not only offers basic tools and features but one which is dedicated to its customers’ success and which devotes the resources to see the personalization efforts through.

Myth #3: Real one-on-one personalization is too costly

With the exception of love (and maybe fun, depending on which musical artists you tune in to…), money can buy anything. But who wants to spend a ton of it on a single marketing strategy?

Certain personalization solution providers demand hefty sums for the delivery of their services, without guarantee of return on investment while sucking too much of a company’s marketing resources. Personalization can, therefore, be erroneously perceived as too expensive and not worth the investment.

True and effective personalization, of course, carries the immense potential of yielding high ROI in a relatively short period. The right personalization platforms are priced competitively, and with correct usage and dedicated guidance and support (including empowering marketers and publishers to utilize the platform on their own without reliance on IT) lead to actual increased revenue generation and maximization from digital media assets. The cost of implementing an effective personalization platform is easily outweighed by the benefits it yields (even Manhattan had to be purchased for $24!)

Myth #4: Too much personalization freaks people out

Marketers and publishers are afraid that if the content they serve is “too” personalized, users may get paranoid about their data usage, are likely to unsubscribe and are less likely to engage and convert.

In an online research study by SAS, conducted with over 2,900 consumers across 7 countries, it has been shown that most customers appreciate the benefits of personalized contents and experiences, and are willing to share information about themselves- as long as they get something in return. Furthermore, in return for the utilization of their information, users have generally come to expect personalized offers and services, and regard impersonalized experiences as a “turn off” and obsolete. Having said this, there is certainly a line that shouldn’t be crossed when personalization becomes “creepy” and thus ineffective (like Target sending coupons for baby items to users who, supposedly, have a baby on the way).

Marketing professionals who are actively utilizing or seeking to utilize personalization solutions should effectively target users with personalized offerings- without crossing any sensitive lines along the way.

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