Direct responses via email, Facebook and Twitter are getting more and more sophisticated, allowing people to substitute strings in their messaging. Software applications make the mistake of calling this personalization. This is not personalization.
This is customization, not personalization… and it must be done carefully. If it's not, it can be deemed as insincere. If you wish to personalize a message to me, it can't be automated. I'm an individual – with unique tastes, experiences, and preferences.
Here's an example of what some vendors call personalization:
Douglas Karr – thanks for following me, download my ebook at blah, blah, blah
That's not personalized… a personal note might be:
Doug, appreciate the follow. Just checked out your blog and loved the latest post on xyz
Companies with a large group of followers might argue that they simply don't have the resources to respond personally. I understand. Here's a better response:
Hope you don't mind the automated response… as a thanks, check out our ebook at blah, blah, blah.
This doesn't mean I don't believe in automation and customization. If it's done right, it can provide a unique experience. Marketers should take advantage of customer preferences to optimize and tailor an experience to what the customer is looking for. If you're looking to develop personalization in an application, that can be accommodated two different ways:
- Personalization that allows the user to define the experience, not the vendor.
- Personalization that allows vendors to add 1:1 messaging to the user that is sincerely written.
Only 20% of CMOs leverage social networks to engage with customers. Ouch… that's not very personal. Social media has finally provided a means for customers to get personal with brands that were previously faceless and nameless. Companies now have the opportunity to get personal with their customers.
The advantage of social media over previous types of media is the ability to be personal… yet solutions providers continue to try to develop techniques to fake the personalization. Marketers have an opportunity like never before to leapfrog their competition by building a personal relationship that builds trust and authority with their clients. That's not done with substitution strings.