Late last month, McDonald’s acquired Israeli personalisation firm, Dynamic yield, for $300 million. This was both the biggest acquisition for the fast food giant in 20 years and a concrete indicator that those who know customer service, know that personalisation is the next big thing.
After years of scepticism around personalisation, eCommerce leaders are now realising that true personalisation is the next step in engaging customers and creating loyalty, however, just because the technology, demand and use cases are now developed, should retailers see personalisation as a risk-free ticket to happier customers?
The Two-Sided Sword: Convenience, But At What cost?
The creepy line has been a point of conjecture between those concerned about their privacy and innovative marketers/ technologists who seek new ways to leverage your behavioural data. As privacy advocates will tell you, there is growing concern that could be heading toward a dystopian future, where big brother knows what we are going to think and curbs our behaviour before we have a chance to think for ourselves.
We only need to review the world’s favourite example of big data and predictive marketing gone wrong, in which Target mistakenly informed parents in Minneapolis that their teen daughter was pregnant, to see how a marketer’s ambition to leverage advanced technology can backfire and cause irreparable brand damage.
Similarly, in the neo-noir science fiction film, Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s character is bombarded with personalised digital offers as he walks through a shopping centre. An individual advertisement may have sparked interest and intrigue, however, when adoption reaches critical mass the messaging becomes annoying and negatively impacts the customers day to day life.
So, we must ask if we can we have our cake and eat it too? Are these conveniences coming at the expense of privacy, a fair playing field for those brands that can’t afford the technology or even the customers right to be forgotten and treated anonymously?
Let’s Weigh It Up
Those driving digital marketing have developed methods of personalising our digital experiences without us feeling that they have been watching our every move. Is this creepy or an intelligent way of ensuring we are satisfied without the need to ask whether we would refer their services to our friends?
Similarly, should I be impressed or infuriated that I no longer have to scour through Amazon to find the product I was looking for a week ago because they have conveniently delivered a personalised experience for me?
You may have noticed that these examples are skewed in favour of a personalised future. This is not because I work both in marketing and for a company that offers personalisation software, but because I believe personalisation is awesome! In fact, I work for a company that offers these services because I want to be a part of this new frontier of digital delight.
Over the next few weeks, I will highlight how our shopping experiences will evolve over the coming 18 months, starting with three that are already hitting the market.
Personalised offers may venture into the creepy discussion, but they are a great step toward dynamic customer experiences. By giving your customers one-off discount codes on products that you know they are looking to buy, you are helping them reduce the hassle of shopping around and converting a prospective customer into a brand ambassador.
This is enabled when you agree to share your cookies; retailers can see where you have visited on their sites and at which part of the journey you left. They can use this data to entice you back with discounts on the products you looked at or new products that may be exactly what you were looking for.
There is nothing that throws a customer like friction and confusion. Tailored sites and category ordering works by remembering the categories and products that you (or someone like you) has looked at in the past and makes them easy to reach next time you visit.
In the not too distant future, upon landing on the site, you will be asked a short series of questions about your interests and what brought you to the site, then the whole experience will be tailored to create a personalised shopping experience for you right from the start.
AI/ML Driven Offers
The power and applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning have long been lauded as the next big thing to drive sales and reduce costs. We are now seeing this power being presented to us whether we realise it or not.
Machine Intelligence (a sub-set of artificial intelligence which allows machines to learn without being explicitly programmed) can now draw insight from seemingly disparate sets of data to infer what type of buying persona you possess, which enables the retailer to make you an offer you can’t refuse… all without the need for human involvement on the retailer’s side.
While I can see why people are pessimistic of the effect that these innovations will have on our lives, I believe that society as a whole ultimately craves such conveniences. I will be highlighting more ways in which technology is helping personalise our digital shopping experience shortly. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on personalisation and how you’ve felt when you’ve experienced machine-driven personalised experiences.
About the Author
Ben Turner is the Head of Marketing for Australia and New Zealand at Insider and is passionate about developing the eCommerce ecosystem in Australia.
Through his career, Ben has worked across the communications industry to educate Australia’s C-suite leaders on global best practice and emerging trends in technology, marketing and operations.
Ben has produced Australia’s largest events for technology in financial services, education, digital transformation and emerging technologies.
With over 10 years’ experience in the marketing and events industries, Ben has developed relationships with the world’s leading CMOs, CIOs, CDOs and thought-leaders in business strategy.
Ben enjoys playing golf, watching sport and live music.