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At the heart of disruption lies hyper-personalization

Ashish Williams


MediaCom South Africa


At the heart of disruption lies hyper-personalization

As big data becomes easier to harvest and compute, hyper-personalized experiences are becoming commonplace. More and more companies are making the switch to personalized marketing as opposed to the generic, spray-and-pray approach. According to a survey by Infosys[a], 86 percent of consumers say that personalization has some impact on what they purchase; and one quarter admits that personalization “significantly influences” their buying decisions. This means that simply supplying the right content to the right customer at the right time is not enough anymore. It’s all about creating the right customer experience.

Take the consumer on a journey

Hyper-personalization takes personalized marketing a step further by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time data to deliver more relevant content, product, and service information to each user. Hyper-personalization is more involved, more complex, and more effective than personalization and goes far beyond customer data. A hyper-personalized campaign uses browsing, purchasing, and real-time behavioral data from multiple channels and touchpoints to tailor content, products, and services to each user. It is centered on improving the customer experience by focusing on the individual consumer’s journey. The more data you have about your audience, the greater your ability to understand and learn from the data, and the more skill you have to apply what you learn to customize the experience, the more successful your campaign will be.

If marketers want to reap the benefits of disruption, their campaigns should focus on hyper-personalization and the customer experience. This can only be achieved if all aspects of that experience come together: point of sale, trade, promotions, website, and mobile. It should all be one hyper-personalized experience.

Big data, big results

The first step in personalizing your marketing messages and campaigns is to collect the right type of data. Your attempt at personalization is only as good as your quality of data. That said, there are mountains of consolidated data to comb through and hundreds of messages to be designed for thousands of individual tastes and behaviors.

Using an automated marketing platform makes this task much simpler. Most good marketing platforms come with advanced reporting capabilities, making the job of analyzing data and measuring the engagement levels of customers much easier. But we can only apply systems thinking and hyper-personalization if we bring the data together on one platform. Be sure to build in first-party data as well as media-owner data to get a single view of who your customer really is.  

To get to know your customers personally, you have to gather much more than just their demographics. You have to analyze their media consumption behavior and attitudes.

It is no longer enough to base campaigns on the right time, the right platform, and the right consumer. Due to the vast amount of brand and product choices, the key disruptor is creating campaigns that offer the right experience.

Netflix is a good example in this regard. Not only does the streaming service show you film and TV recommendations based on the content you’ve watched, it even personalises film covers, giving prominence to actors or actresses that you prefer watching. Interestingly, Netflix doesn’t figure age or gender into its recommendation system, deeming user behavior to be a far more meaningful metric. The more data gathered, the more personalized the content can become. However, the key is to collect information in a non-invasive way.

The line between creative and creepy

Today, the digital world abounds with copious quantities of demographic, psychographic and behavioral data. The problem is that the definition of what’s private and sensitive can be different for each person. This creates the following dilemma: underpersonalise and you risk being labelled clueless and miss out on revenue; overpersonalize and you risk breaking trust and doing irreparable damage to your reputation. This invisible line of privacy is hard to read, not least because individual consumers have different levels of sensitivity, and varying levels of awareness. But with measures like the POPI Act and GDPR now in effect, most businesses are proactively disclosing their data collection practices and privacy policies.

As you move into deeper levels of hyper-personalization, do so intentionally and systematically, fully grasping the implications before rolling out. Hyper-personalization requires great data, great technology, and great sensitivity. Marketers need to jump on the bandwagon quickly in order to stay ahead. According to a study by Ascend2[b], only 9 percent of marketing professionals say they have completed the development of a hyper-personalization strategy. The majority, 62 percent, are either just talking about it or haven’t done anything about hyper-personalization yet. So if you start now and create and implement a hyper-personalization strategy, you will be a step ahead of your competition.

[a]Not sure if we can reference Infosys so explicitly, may be okay as a footnote – but I will look into this. If the latter, need to change the text to simply – “According to a recent survey, 86...”

[b]As above...