Investing in providing a personal customer experience provides strong ROI, yet when it comes to offering real-time personalization across digital platforms many consumer-facing brands are still playing catch up.

The great thing about technology, though, is that by its very nature it offers its gifts equally to late adopters and trailblazers. It is never too late to catch up. The time to invest is always right now.

“Today’s consumers expect a truly individual customer experience,” says ChannelNet CEO and Founder Paula Tompkins. “They react negatively when a brand’s attempt to personalize communications is nothing more than window dressing for mass marketing efforts.”

She says the market is shifting from a focus on mass personalization to a more granular focus on individual consumer needs.

“Making a customer feel special takes more than just inserting a customer’s name on a direct mail piece,” she says. “Customers want to feel special and they want the communications a brand sends to them to be relevant.” Tompkins stresses that data combined with predictive analytics is what enables an individual experience.

It is important to individualize your marketing communications in a way that is transparent and is not seen as an invasion of privacy. “You can use customer information,” she says, “but you have to tell them you are doing it, why you are doing it and what the benefit is to them.”

The Customer Conflict

Consumers echo Tompkins’ advice about making sure you ask to use personal data and are transparent about its usage. They like the added service that personalization enables, but at the same time, they are uneasy with the use of their information.

  1. 53% of online shoppers say that retailers who personalize the shopping experience provide a valuable service. December 2013, 
  2. Personalized display ads have a click-through rate that is 10 times higher than traditional ads. December 2013,
  3. 59% of online shoppers say they find more products that are interesting on personalized websites than on static sites. December 2013,
  4. 59% of online shoppers who have experienced personalization say it influences purchase decisions. 2014, Infosys study: Rethinking Retail
  5. 61% of consumers feel better about a company that provides personalized content and are more likely to purchase from those companies. December 2014,
  6. But, only 32% of consumers feel that companies are honest about their use of personal information. 2014, SAS Research Paper
  7. And, almost 75% say using their information without informing them about your policy is a violation of their privacy. 2014, SAS Research Paper
  8. 77% of online shoppers say they would trust businesses more if they explained how they were using personal information. December 2013,

Personalization Builds Revenue

Companies know personalization is an essential part of a proactive customer experience strategy, and those who do it well create both happier customers and stronger bottom lines.

With more than a decade’s experience in personalization, Tompkins was the first one to pioneer the technology known today as personal URLs (PURLs). She says she has learned in the process of managing over 15 million PURLs that customers appreciate relevant and timely communications. “If someone’s automobile lease is coming to a conclusion and you suggest they consider the next model up in the line, they are flattered. A suggestion that they might be ready for a nicer car is affirmation of their own aspirations,” she says.

If brands create the right customer experience, they do not need to be afraid of personalizing their marketing.

  1. 61% of online marketers say personalization is important, but 51% of them are not sure how to get started. December 2013,
  2. 91% of marketers say they are either already providing personalized content, or plan to within the next year. June 2015, DMNews Marketers Prioritize Personalization
  3. 59% of marketers say they experience positive ROI from personalization efforts. December 2013,
  4. Marketers say sales increase 20% after they implement personalization. December 2014,
  5. Personalized calls to action (CTA) result in a 42% higher conversion rate than generic CTAs. October 2013,
  6. 78% of chief marketing officers say personalized content is the future of marketing. December 2014,
  7. A large percentage of Amazon’s revenues are generated by its recommendations. July 12,

Tompkins advises businesses that say they do not know how to get started to look at the data they are collecting first and then determine how best to use it.

Businesses use a variety of personal information:

“Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: Why Marketing Should Be Personal,” a November 2014 study by reveals that:

  1. 65% of companies use such personal information as name, gender and geographic location.
  2. 45% use explicit customer preferences and interests.
  3. 38% use purchase history.
  4. 33% use web behavior.

The technology of marketing is moving at breathtaking speed. How personalization happens certainly will change with time to better meet both client and brand needs. Personalization will only get more targeted and more effective.