How not to become ‘impersonal’ while being ‘personal’

Am I alone in thinking that, when I receive a “personalized” email from a brand – i.e. it greets me by name, it actually feels pretty impersonal?

To me, “Hi Prasenjit” just means I handed over my personal details to someone and now my name is sitting on their database waiting to be used in marketing communications. But do they really know me? And will they be using my data for something that will be of benefit to me? I’m pretty sure the answer to both of those questions is a ‘no’.

Personalization now means more than calling your customer by their first name. I don’t know whether it’s laziness, or a lack of the right tools, brands today know so much about their customers – so why aren’t they using the data they have to really tailor their messages and make them relevant to the individuals they’re talking to?

Personalization has to be a key priority for marketers in 2016.

Why is it important?

When executed well, personalization, has clear benefits for brands. For example, for a bank, the CTR on a personalized “Next Best Action” recommendation banner on the Home page is thrice the CTR of an equivalent, non-personalized recommendation.

But it’s not always easy to do it right. Personalization is a tricky beast…

For customers, it can be a sensitive – and sometimes contradictory issue. People are very aware that organizations collect data about them and, as a result, have come to expect brands to know their preferences and market to them accordingly. They want brands to be open and honest about what they know and to be helpful in return. They also want confidence that their data is secure.

Get the balance wrong between what you know about your customers and how you use what you know, and customers can be left feeling very suspicious. You can lose their trust, jeopardize business and even appear intrusive if you start using information inappropriately or that customers didn’t know you had.


True personalization is about really knowing your customers and using what you know to mutual advantage. As marketers we know that a customer’s purchase and transaction history, behavior and preferences can steer us towards offering similar products and services – and that’s absolutely what we should do.


Imagine the power of being able to offer a host of tailored benefits as well – from discounts and offers, to useful information right when they need it and through channels they prefer the most. We’re able to collect more data about our customers now than ever before – but we’ve got to make them want to give it to us and once we’ve got it, we need to use it for their benefit, not just our own. When you know people’s motivations, tendencies and pain points you can really start to personalize what you offer them. And when you start to offer them something relevant that makes their lives easier or better, that’s when the rewards come back to your business. That’s what all marketers are looking for, the power of 1:1 personalization.


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