Personalization Gone Wrong – How to Avoid Damaging Your Customer Relationships

Marketers understand the importance of personalization when it comes to their cross-channel messaging efforts, but it’s also essential to acknowledge that it’s quite possible to take it too far, even accidentally. In our latest webinar, Phrasee CEO Parry Malm joined us to talk about why too much — or too eager — personalization can often be worse than none at all, and how you can approach personalization in a way that will help you avoid common missteps.

Relevance may be the wrong goal

Malm said that many companies build a cross-channel personalization strategy in order to try to keep their communications relevant to their audience. But that may be the wrong mindset to have going into the planning and execution phases. He said that, because individuals will react to the same message in different ways depending upon the context and circumstances for them at the time, there’s no way to achieve the sort of peak relevance so many marketing teams are striving for.

Instead, he said a better approach might be to think more in terms of not being irrelevant rather than being relevant. That means not necessarily seeking to reach customers with the perfect purchase recommendation for them at all times, but thinking more about not recommending a new refrigerator to someone who just bought one, or a nice set of heels to a man who just purchased work boots. It’s a little bit of a subtle difference, but it’s a shift in mindset. The bar for “not irrelevant” is lower, and will allow you to avoid many of the common pitfalls while still delivering messages that will often convert.

You don’t have to use all the data you have

It’s worth remembering that, just because you’ve collected certain data about your customers, you don’t necessarily have to use it for personalizing messages to them. Not only do you want to consider customer privacy, but you also don’t want to appear either creepy or insensitive. That can damage a customer relationship, and that damage can be difficult to undo. Once someone unsubscribes, it’s going to be near impossible to get them back. And unsubscribing might be the best you can hope for in some situations.

While personalizing communications is important in today’s world of high consumer expectations, it’s important to be thoughtful in your approach to whatever tailoring you do. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes; think about how you’d feel if this landed in your inbox, or on your mobile phone. If circumstances change in any way, be sure to revisit whatever you have planned and determine if it could impact the content you’ve already chosen to deliver. Don’t make any assumptions. Your customers’ data is precious, and it should be treated with respect, not just as a tool for your next campaign.

To watch the full 30-minute webinar, you can download it for free. No gates. No tricks. We just want to share some knowledge with you, and help you avoid the problems that have plagued many.