Personalization Is About the Person
Country store owners in the old days were known to have personal touches, because they treated their customers as people. (Well, of course without being creepy. Refer to “Don’t Do It Just Because You Can”). They would not have offered more hammers to you just because you just purchased a hammer. They would have put it in context (i.e., human touch), and then they would have suggested products that you may benefit from. (As in “Hey, don’t you need protective gloves, too? I know you’re a klutz!”)
Now we have access to enough technology, mathematical skills and data to do such personalized marketing to millions of people at a time. But it will work only if marketers do not lose sight of what matters, and commit to the proper way, preparing the data specifically for personalization efforts and programming personal touches into algorithms. Technology made things easy for us, but it is equally easy to abuse it. And let’s not forget that we are just personally abusing other human beings when we abuse technology and data. We’d better not call that personalization.
Stephen H. Yu is a world-class database marketer. He has a proven track record in comprehensive strategic planning and tactical execution, effectively bridging the gap between the marketing and technology world with a balanced view obtained from more than 30 years of experience in best practices of database marketing. Currently, Yu is president and chief consultant at Willow Data Strategy. Previously, he was the head of analytics and insights at eClerx, and VP, Data Strategy & Analytics at Infogroup. Prior to that, Yu was the founding CTO of I-Behavior Inc., which pioneered the use of SKU-level behavioral data. “As a long-time data player with plenty of battle experiences, I would like to share my thoughts and knowledge that I obtained from being a bridge person between the marketing world and the technology world. In the end, data and analytics are just tools for decision-makers; let’s think about what we should be (or shouldn’t be) doing with them first. And the tools must be wielded properly to meet the goals, so let me share some useful tricks in database design, data refinement process and analytics.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.