Is Personalisation Dead?

In a 2020 study, Gartner predicted that 80% of marketers would abandon personalisation by 2025. The report identifies a combination of unclear ROI, bad data management, decreasing consumer trust, and increasing barriers and regulations around data privacy, as reasons that personalisation will phase out in the next three years - a worrying prospect for any digital marketer.

However, despite all this, it’s very clear that personalisation still matters to consumers. According to a 2021 McKinsey report, 71% of consumers expect a personalised experience from brands - and 76% become frustrated when personalisation is lacking. 

Are the pundits really saying that, like Schrödinger’s cat, personalisation is alive and dead at the same time… or is one side wrong?


What exactly is personalisation?

When you hear ‘personalisation’, you might think of email personalisation tokens or remarketing ads. But personalisation can also be much more subtle, whether it’s leading users to highly personalised landing pages, or tailoring email copy to match the user’s preferred communication style. B2B marketing strategies such as Account Based Marketing rely on every aspect of the funnel being personalised to its audience, although B2C marketing features plenty of examples of personalised marketing. In other words, personalisation is no longer an optional add-on - it is absolutely crucial in successfully engaging your audience.

At its core, personalisation occurs when marketers use data and analytics to deliver customised experiences to their users, with the aim of creating a more satisfying user experience and driving conversions. And this is where the biggest challenge in personalisation lies: as consumers become increasingly digital-savvy, not crossing the line from ‘helpful’ to ‘creepy’ is more important than ever. The best kind of personalisation offers value to the user; for example, a piece of content that directly addresses their business’s challenges would be far more appreciated than a generic remarketing ad.


Why data hygiene matters

Instead of throwing out personalisation altogether, perhaps it’s our approach to personalisation that needs to change, going beyond just ‘Dear {{FIRST_NAME}}’ emails and instead using data to better understand our customers, their pains and challenges, and how we can address those pain points.

This is where data is crucial - more specifically, your data needs to be relevant, accurate, and up to date. Data hygiene is the process of reviewing your data (and, more broadly, your data collection processes) to ensure its cleanliness and usability. From data collection, to storage, to processing, it’s increasingly important to have a solid data hygiene process in place to make sure that your data is helping and not hindering your personalisation.

Once you know you have the best possible data available to you, you’ll be able to step up your personalisation beyond just basic details like name and company. You’ll be able to personalise more deeply in order to deliver the right content, to the right audience, at the right time - therefore avoiding the pitfalls of shallow personalisation.


What about cookies?

Right now, third party cookies are a particularly hot topic in the marketing sphere, due to Google’s announcement that these will be phased out in 2023 - a response to growing concerns about user data privacy and lack of transparency. The impending phase-out of third-party cookies presents a challenge for digital marketers - how are we supposed to deliver personalised adverts without the data needed to personalise them?

On the other hand, the death of cookies presents us with the opportunity to find new, privacy-friendly approaches to collecting data for personalisation, as well as re-examining our own approaches to data collection in general - ensuring that our data is truly valuable, both for the business and its customers.


In conclusion…

While the aforementioned Gartner study may seem alarming, it actually highlights the biggest problems in how personalisation is implemented - especially the (lack of) quality of marketers’ data. As third-party cookies are on their way out, it will likely force marketers to re-evaluate their data hygiene practices and rely on other methods of data collection, and improve their personalisation rather than give it up entirely.

Personalisation is at the core of all the work we do at Webstars, so we’re always looking for ways to help our clients make the most of their data and reach their target audiences with relevant, personalised messaging. If this is something that’s on your radar, why not get in touch with us?

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