Personalisation is a word that means 'tailor to me', to talk to me directly as an individual. It means relevancy in terms of what I or others I know might like and consume. How do agencies effectively create personalisation in the digital space?
There are both content and creative assets used to ignite consumer interest and drive personal relevancy to the individual (see previous blog post).
The creative component focuses on outbound marketing and development of the brand experience. When combined with content and user initiated response, we are able to develop a holistic vision of a brand's identity that offers consumers personalisation and provides sufficient 'reasons to believe'. The brand speaks to them, rather than at them.
However, much of what is labelled as 'personalisation' in the content digital space is thin and temporally focused rather than rich and individually tailored. Activity is managed as best as possible as a form of retargeting that feeds off an initial point of interest (display or search). This is active though at times speculative and unengaged, necessitating repetition in order to garner awareness from new customers.
Admittedly achieving a balance only using media 'personalisation' (delivery and creative) is a challenge for a number of valid reasons:
- The nature of the brand
- The content and context where creative is served
- The nature of the buy against a greater overall plan/targets
- The parameters in which media owners and agencies manage and optimise campaigns.
So how do we, as an agency, improve our ability to speak to our
client's consumers en masse in a personal way that
will resonate with them and how does this help drive brand
engagement and ultimately conversion?
We need to better understand the motivations and behaviours of users within the online space. We need to allow for their own initial engagement with us as the establishment of a new relationship, before we begin to personalise the response we deliver further down the funnel.
Want to drive new customers? Let them choose how they personalise their experience with you!
Approaching our outbound content strategy with this in mind may
result in the need to consider investment in areas that are not
considered DR 'safe'. However as an agency focused on driving
growth, our capability to deliver greater value, and a more engaged
customer (i.e. one who is generally more profitable in the long
term) starts with getting the initial interaction right.
This means a real focus on creative, content, and context. Specifically in terms of media, it is a hybrid of display/video/ search formats set against the appropriate environment using maximum social functionality and social assets.
Within the media that we place and the initial creative we serve, we can (and should) provide options for users to engage on their terms. We should provide measurement, optimisation and even buy according to engagement to qualify interest and intent further down the funnel under a centralised tracking and attribution system. We need to do this for campaigns that are considered pure DR (if we are looking to drive growth) as well as campaigns that are considered pure brand (so we can see the true effect downstream). Campaigns are still separated into silos of brand and DR, and as an agency with deep understandings of social contribution to conversion, we know clients need to correlate the two and we can show them how to do this.
Is buying and optimising in this way more expensive? Yes. Will it ultimately convert for every client at a cost that works for them? Of course that is dependent on a number of factors such as product, offer, creative and lifetime value.
Some brands have homogenous user types that can be modelled and reached in specific environments, with both time factors and message personalisation applied based on like-minded variables. However, it is rare that these brands face low levels of competition and do not need to define their brand to maximise share of voice within their vertical.
Brands with high volume, low priced products will need to focus much more heavily on social sharing/viral functionality at the top of the funnel as means of driving volumes cost effectively to peers. Those with higher value, higher priced products will require heavier emphasis on the educational process, which should and must include elements of UGC in addition to curated content.
As users become more socially expressive, clients and their online agencies are under increasing pressure to improve both personalisation and relevancy within the marketing they deliver. As an agency with heritage in both content and creative we're well placed to help navigate this path to ensure we achieve personalisation that makes the right first (and last) impression - to sale.