By Sue Aldrich
The first steps in personalizing an interaction are often based on segmentation, then progress to true personalization. This evolution is underway now, and it will gain speed. By 2016, we’ll expect personalized experiences to be as common as “most popular” lists are today.
Our preferences will be collected even more diligently because they are more useful than ever before. Technologies will automate the collection, analysis, and application of preferences and other personal data to make marketers more effective and to make our customer experiences better. If more effective marketing seems creepy, remember that effective marketing delivers only offers and suggestions that are attractive. Ineffective marketing delivers offers and suggestions that distract, annoy, or even disgust you.
Privacy Lost (Again)
And personalization will be accomplished not just with profile data and current activity, but also with a broad range of data that we have explicitly published about ourselves. Despite privacy regulations, our ratings, reviews, likes, and comments will be part of the personalization equation. And the ratings, reviews, likes and comments of our friends will be included as well. Creepy as this may seem, I am looking forward to the day that Netflix tells me that my circle of close friends have watched these three movies. I gave up my privacy years ago. I am tracked online and off, via my cookie, my credit card, my social security number, my street address, and my driver’s license. (Yes, it’s creepy. So is my cellar. I try to focus on happier thoughts.)
Marketers are aware of the creepiness factor and are alert to changes in privacy regulations. New mechanisms will emerge to enable people to control their information and its use in a more granular and also more global way. For example, one will be able to allow tracking of shopping activity for use in improving shopping experiences across the web, not just a specific site, or allow tracking of shopping, research, and reading on music, but not other topics. Or allow tracking of everything, but control which companies can use the information.
Technologies will make it easier for designers and marketers to automatically collect relevant information and personalize every aspect of interactions across the customer life cycle, across touchpoints and devices. As customer experience is increasingly personalized, this becomes increasingly important. If the pages I see are personalized based on my web activity, I need to see the same content from my mobile. Otherwise, the experience could be very frustrating. How do I find that interesting thing that was front and center on my desktop now that I’m sitting on the train with my iPad?