Have you ever tried to look up the actual meaning of the word “personalization?” I did a Google search for it and the results were very interesting. The first definition that pops up is from the popular online technology encyclopedia,WhatIs.com which defines it as “a means of meeting the customer’s needs more effectively and efficiently, making interactions faster and easier and, consequently, increasing customer satisfaction and the likelihood of repeat visits.” When I looked up “personalization” on Wikipedia, its definition is “also known as customization, personalization consists of tailoring a service or a product to accommodate specific individuals, as opposed to general groups.” And finally, the Cambridge Online Dictionary defines it as ” the process of making something suitable for the needs of a particular person.”
All of this got me thinking…when did the term “personalization” change from being about accommodating the individual to targeted marketing?
Let me explain.
The site Chiefmartec.com produces an amazing chart showing the current marketing technology landscape. If you haven’t seen it, it’s pretty mind-blowing. On the chart, there are approximately 45 companies listed in the category called “Personalization & Chat.” I decided to do a little research on these companies.
Interestingly enough, almost every company in this segment claims their platform or solution provides some level of “personalization.” However, what is most interesting to me, is that none of them talk about personalization in a way that is about the end user. There was nothing about suiting the customer’s needs, improving customer service, or making interactions faster and easier. Instead, they use terms such as targeted marketing, predictive analytics, recommended products, targeted ads, behavioral profiling and geotargeting. They claim their solutions help enterprises convert leads, accelerate sales and decrease shopping cart abandonment rates.
Now, I am not here to tell you those products are ineffective and that CMOs should not look at them as part of their overall Marketing toolkit.
What I am asking is – why aren’t brands focused on personalization from the customer point of view?
What users want is to be empowered to control their own experiences with their favorite brands. They want to control the content; they are willing to share their profile information, but only when they want to; and they want products and services that are actually relevant to them, not what the brand THINKS are relevant to them.
The age of the customer is upon us. What are you doing to empower your customers so they control their own experience?