Why brands should individualize, not personalize


The personalization methods marketers have clung to for years are simply no longer enough. As brands increasingly focus on creating omnichannel campaigns that leverage customer data and offer real-time communication, they will quickly realize that individualization is the new standard.

The future belongs to companies that can create real experiences targeted at the individual – not mass customer experience.

Reach the customer, not the customer segment

Here’s what we mean: let’s say you purchased a pair of sunglasses online last week. Under the rudimentary rules of personalization, you’d be placed into a pool of other customers who also purchased that pair of sunglasses – but that’s probably where the commonalities between you and the other customers end. So when you find yourself targeted by the same shop with an ad for a shirt that you don’t find particularly appealing, it’s because the data is personalized for the common demographic of people who purchase the sunglasses – not individualized for you.

To create a more meaningful connection with each customer, leave these types of personalization efforts behind and start the journey toward individualization. Start with the rich customer data you’ve gathered from different data sources to derive individual audience insights and shape your omnichannel efforts. A marketing automation solution can help considerably here. More dynamic solutions not only unify data across sources and campaigns, but offer marketers capabilities to identify, track, and optimize the omnichannel journey of every individual customer.

Now, instead of targeting someone who bought sunglasses with an ad for a shirt they’d never wear, you’d know that customer has been looking for a certain necklace, and can offer them an ad for an item they are much more likely to be interested in. You’d even be able to make the offer through the right channel and at just the right moment, leading to a better experience and a greater chance of conversion.

Remember privacy is key

When individualizing messaging, don’t forget about customer privacy – no brand wants to lose the trust of its customers or create a scandal because of privacy issues. In the wake of data privacy breaches, customers now pay more attention to how and when brands use their data. How personal data is deployed can make or break a customer’s relationship with a brand.

In fact, PwC found that over a third of consumers cited trust as a main reason to shop with a particular retailer, and Microsoft released survey data showing 61% of consumers in Southeast Asia will recommend an online service they trust, even if it costs more. These findings highlight precisely the importance of data security and privacy to customers and should serve as a reminder to always use data responsibly.

The point here is not to overwhelm your customers with overly individualized messaging that could make them raise an eyebrow and drive them away from your brand. Instead, use insights and your omnichannel rules engine to deploy individualized experiences in more natural and timely ways that delight customers rather than making them feel uncomfortable.

Your customer is not data

In the rush to individualize, brands can easily lose sight of the end goal – to make meaningful connections with customers on a human level. Keep in mind that underneath the deluge of data is a complex individual, who deserves to feel valued. Indeed, a relevant and genuine conversation with your customers is the surest way to lasting brand loyalty.


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