Consumers Want Data Alone to Stop Defining Personalisation

by Fatima Adam Dept

The marketing industry’s focus is constantly being drawn back to personalisation with developments in data collection, cookies, data analysis, and marketing automation tools enabling brands to narrow in on consumer behaviour. And although personalisation is often linked to marketing technology, crafting the blueprint for digital experiences should be connected to psychology, design, and brand experience. Do consumers think brands are relying too much on emergent technology for personalised marketing, or are they using breakthroughs effectively to generate genuine connections with online shoppers?

Dept, digital agency, asked 1000 British consumers what they think of personalisation techniques in retail e-commerce. The study involved an equal distribution of male and female participants varying in age groups and geographic locations. Nearly half of respondents said that personalisation was not offering them relevant products. This is where marketers should not be sloppy with the data and use human logic and strategic thinking to power the tools.

Connecting the Data Dots

Fortunately, there’s a vast set of data on individual consumers available today. Especially regarding their online behaviours (recently viewed items, items from abandoned cart etc.) and their purchasing history (past purchases, loyalty program membership, email interactions etc.). Key data can also be gleaned from more mature approaches that connect various data sources to create customer data platforms, enabling marketers to finally deliver upon the single customer view.

Thanks to the smart use of data, marketers can continue to deliver more tailored experiences from an understanding of the consumer’s context. However, this in itself is a complex challenge, given that consumers are present on multiple digital channels, often using different customer identities (for example, ‘I use my Facebook account to shop with you, but have used my Gmail to register for your loyalty scheme.’) Connecting the dots is key to developing a rounded profile of your potential customers to drive their tailored experience.

Onsite Data Collection

Consumers are hesitant about sharing data, especially relating to identifiable personal information, even though they’re seeing the value of providing it. 84 per cent of the interviewees that have experienced receiving offers based on their physical location found it helpful and only 2 per cent didn’t, which points in a positive direction for location-based recommendations.

Brands can recommend vouchers, offers, and discounts based on a customer’s location but, to do this, the customer has to agree to enable location-detection on their device while shopping. A lot of people are unaware data is used for personalisation and are suspicious that e-commerce sites only ask for it so they can sell it to other companies. To progress in this area, brands should better educate consumers about why this data is being collected and how it can improve their online experience.

In addition, customers respond well to being asked initial questions about their preferences in order to guide them to the right purchase. Out of the 25 per cent who experienced this technique, most (64 per cent) found this helpful. It’s interesting to note that only 10 per cent believed that a questionnaire format would be helpful; marketers need to look at ways to collect this data from customers in a format that is friendly and doesn’t feel like a survey.

How Many Tools Are Too Many?

Data shows that consumers don’t like features which interrupt the user journey. This could be annoying pop-ups, chatbots, or irrelevant information about deals and extras, which make it less efficient for the consumer to actually make their purchase.

Only 5 per cent of participants find chatbots most helpful, with 31 per cent ranking it as the least helpful. In fact, chatbots performed the worst when helpfulness in personalisation was examined. People don’t want an online shop assistant and are only interested in personalisation and pop-ups when they need it. Timing is important. A negative experience with pop-ups could be when a landing sign-up page appears too quickly and too intrusively when a visitor immediately clicks on a website, or when a pop-up appears on mobile which is difficult to navigate away from and interrupts the consumer journey.

Does this mean marketers need to scrap them from your site? No, but they may need to consider how and when you’re using them. The pop-up shouldn’t appear until the user has already spent considerable time browsing the site, and is better placed to actually sign up and convert to a customer later.

Apply Data into Context

The more dynamic data can be used in context, the more users will understand the value and start opening up to it. Everything from the time of year (summer or Christmas) to the type of device a consumer is using at the time of browsing (mobile, tablet, or desktop) needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to e-commerce marketing personalisation. Consumers feel like personalisation tools are too automated in their approach. A shared complaint amongst the majority of research participants was that brands were suggesting consumers buy the same thing again. This could be avoided by checking whether the consumer is buying the item as a gift; they might not be interested in repeat purchase or related product prompts if the item wasn’t a personal choice.

Building trust and taking the user into consideration should underpin the entire personalisation strategy. Conscious consumerism is growing, and no consumer is exempt from media headlines about the latest data breach scandal or about data being sold on to companies and leading to questionable consequences. This is underlined by our research, as 63 per cent of the participants in the panel stated they don’t want their data to be sold and there were many comments from research participants, stating they feel like they are being ‘spied on’ or ‘intruded’ upon, which is making them wary towards sharing their data initially.