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Hyper personalisation: What it is and what marketers need to know about it.

New marketing techniques often seem to come out of nowhere - and then they are suddenly being talked about everywhere. One which has recently surfaced is hyper personalisation, leaving many wondering what does it even mean?

Well breaking down the word, the second part of the term is familiar to most marketers. Personalisation is honing your marketing messaging and touchpoints so that customers have an experience with the brand which reflects who they are, what they do and even what they have bought in the past.

The second part, 'hyper', though is a bit more difficult to interpret. Hyper comes from the Greek word for 'over' and typically is used to signify an extra amount of something.

So, combining the two, hyper personalisation can be thought of as more personalisation than a customer might expect. For example, a personalised email would refer to someone by their name (expected) but a hyperpersonalised email might also add details about where the person is currently located (unexpected).

So, are marketers actively pursuing 'unexpected personalisation'? Or are most still struggling with the basics.

To find out, ClickAcademy, in association with Amazon Web Services, recently held roundtable discussions with brand marketers at Digital Cream in Kuala Lumpur. At the Hyper personalisation table, hosted by Kin Peng Chan, Owner, Kasatria, attendees shared their thoughts and experiences with the new approach to marketing. Below is a summary of the discussions from the day.

Why do brands need personalisation?

Participants agreed that brands need to personalise messages and offers to drive sales. 'One size fits all' marketing no longer works.

The reason is that most businesses are in very competitive markets and customers have a wide variety of businesses to choose from when making a purchase. So, a business which understands and reflect the nuances of each individual's preferences can move the odds of a purchase in their favour.

Why do brands need hyper personalisation?

Next, attendees tackled the question about the need for 'hyper' or extra personalisation.

The answer, according to delegates, is that providing personalisation involves understanding several things about each prospect. What they want, what they need, how much they are willing to spend and when are they likely to buy.

Brands which take the time to understand consumers with this level of detail are at an advantage. Yet, if everyone is collecting the same data about consumers then winning their business becomes a battle over who can provide the most meaningful personalisation at the right time.

This 'arms race' over providing increasingly more personalisation to win over customers in competitive markets is why marketers need to start working on extra, or 'hyper', personalisation.

How to get started with hyper personalisation

Once delegates agreed that hyper personalisation was the future for marketing the discussion turned to how marketers should get started.

Hyper personalisation first requires that someone in the business come up with hypotheses about what events should trigger individual messaging and what the appropriate response should be. Then these hypotheses need to be tested to see whether the initial guess about what drives customer behaviour was correct or needed to be adjusted.

The problem, though, is that it isn't clear who should be responsible for generating and testing the hypotheses. One attendee suggested that it should be the marketing department's responsibility, but questions remained regarding whether marketers had the skills to analyse the data to come up with the initial hypotheses.

Another suggested that help in this area may have to come from outside of the marketing department or even the organisation.

Implementing hyper personalisation

Once the customer behaviours that signified meaningful hyper personalisation opportunities were identified, implementing them was another obstacle marketers face.

The reason is that data from throughout the organisation would need to be collected, processed and made available to hyper personalisation engines in real-time. Few organisations, participants agreed, are prepared to implement this level of cross-department data sharing presently.

Moreover, attendees noted that different departments own the conversation with the customer independently at each stage of the buying journey. Marketing typically controls the first 2 stages, building awareness and generating interest, but at many businesses sales or merchandising take over the relationship once customers become serious about making a purchase.

As different departments have different goals, ensuring a consistent message across touchpoints presents another challenge to marketers seeking to implement hyper personalisation.

One solution for these issues was that management needed to make a singular view of the customer a priority so that data and messaging would be shared more effectively between different departments.

The future of hyper personalisation

Should the many obstacles to implementing hyper personalisation be overcome, attendees agreed that the technique has a bright future.

One reason for this was that, for many businesses, sales do not only happen once. With the right level of attention to personal requirements, customers return repeatedly so it is worth investing in obtaining and using personal data to provide the highest level of service possible.

Marketers could then identify when a customer enters a certain phase of their 'customer life', say renewing a subscription or reviewing the category for a near-term purchase and construct the appropriate marketing intervention for that individual. One major benefit of this approach would be that marketers could think of customer acquisition in terms of total customer lifetime value and, potentially, invest far more in the initial stages of the customer journey.

While participants felt that hyper personalisation was desirable, they also acknowledged for an initiative to succeed, the whole organisation needed to be behind it. A significant transformation would have to occur which not only allowed data to flow more freely through the organisation but also rewarded employees for coming up with new, innovative ways to personalise the customer journey.

This, everyone agreed, could be the biggest obstacle to hyper personalisation, but such transformation could be the greatest opportunity it would provide, as well.

A word of thanks

ClickAcademy would like to thank Kin Peng Chan, Owner, Kasatria for hosting the Hyper personalisation table and Craig Stires, Head of Analytics, AI & Big Data, APAC, AWS for providing subject matter expertise.

We'd also like to thank all the marketers who made time to attend Digital Cream in KL and hope to see you at all future ClickAcademy events!


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