Personalisation strategies analysed: Potent brand messages found – if not 100% hit rate

To personalise, or not to personalise? Even though it's phrased as a question, personalisation may seem more of a proclamation today - and while only half of consumers are actively signing up for a personalised experience right now, the numbers are only going to go up.

The latest study from Periscope By McKinsey, which polled more than 2000 consumers spread across France, Germany, the UK and the US, found brands who were already trusted by users were more likely to be given permission to personalise. Yet not everything is hitting the spot; approximately two in five users overall said most messages they received still felt like mass marketing that 'wasn't created with them in mind.'

The material deemed most likely to make it focused around messages about products relating to users' interests. This is not the most surprising of statements, but the methodology is of more intrigue; recommendations related to a previous search hit the mark - cited by 43% of US and 39% of UK consumers - as did retargeting and updates relating to product availability or price. 

Of those messages deemed a success, however, many inspire consumers to act. More than a third of US users polled (37%) said personalised messages had prompted a behavioural change of some sort, compared with 32% for France. Germany (27%) and the UK (26%) were slightly more reticent.

Despite the allure baked into certain apps and their supposedly irresistible notifications, it was good old SMS which proved the most popular - and enduring - medium. In the US, for instance, text was the channel most likely to elicit an 'open and read' action, while it was a similar story for users in France. In the case of German users, while SMS had especially high open rates, cited by 57% of those polled, WhatsApp messages were more likely to get action.

Those who have been in the industry long enough will know that personalisation can be something of a poisoned chalice: do too little and risk the wrath or, worse, indifference of the customer; do too much and risk questions about personal data usage. Writing for MarketingTech earlier this month Peter Matthews, founder and CEO at brand consultancy Nucleus, argued that the key 'buzzword' beginning with P now needed to be privacy.

"Astute brand marketers need to figure out where they stand and rebuild their value propositions based on core values of trust and consent as well as a more nuanced understanding of the customer," wrote Matthes. "This may require adjusting to a 'slower-burn' approach to personalisation, however it will give marketers the perfect opportunity to refine their strategies of how to communicate the benefits of the value exchange while minimising risk."

For Periscope By McKinsey, it was more of a technical summation; build it and they will come. "To be successful with their personalisation efforts and reap the rewards, businesses should employ advanced analytics and scalable and sustainable solutions to better understand their consumers and create the right mix of content, channel and timing to drive a change in behaviour of an individual customer," said Lars Fiedler, partner and senior solution leader marketing solutions at Periscope By McKinsey.

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