Above everything else on the Internet, personalised marketing wins. We are moving into an era where advertising will become so relevant, that it’s no longer seen as an annoyance, but as a service for users.
Have you wondered why you’re ‘followed’ by banners for a pair of shoes you’ve already purchased? Or why your gym sends you offers for Zumba in Manchester when you live in London?
Then you’re very likely the type of person who will feel better with the world of advertising that is to come in the next 3-4 years. Many people today regard advertising as bothersome and irritating, however that perception will very likely change within the next few years. Large companies are gathering data about us like never before, and we’re only at the beginning of a period in which advertisements will become completely personalised and far more relevant than we’ve seen before. We are entering into a future where the border between advertisers and useful services is diminishing.
The world’s most popular social media platforms and apps such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram have had success because they offer services that are completely personalised; you choose what you do or don’t want to see and can optimise your news feed to be completely unique. Searches on Google have also become personalised, so we receive search results that are customised based on interests the search engine suspects we have. In the same way, we now experience that advertisers online are, at a higher level, becoming personalised (down to each single user).
If you search ‘Ads Preferences’ on Google, you’ll get access to a short overview of the picture Google has of you. And on Facebook, you have the possibility to download a large file with part of the data the social network has collected on you, as a user. This data allows for the setup of far more relevant advertisements. The system is far from perfect, however it has up to present date, allowed for those ads we see to be slightly more relevant compared to those we saw 5 years ago.
This development will only continue.
Google’s CEO, Larry Page, was recently asked whether he considered ad-blockers (programs which block advertisements), to be a problem. To this, he responded that the problem isn’t ad-blockers, but bad advertisements. According to Page, it’s about creating ads that consumers don’t want to block.
Year 2015: A static Internet
While big companies such as Google and Facebook have realised the value of using consumer data in new constructive ways and offer personalised services, 99.9% of all other websites are not personalised. The most common situation is that the same version of the website is showed to all users, regardless if you’re a man or woman, what age you are, and what part of the country you live in, and despite having previously visited the website and possibly having purchased products.
This will change in the course of the next 5 years.
A website owner typically has a large accumulation of information about their visitors. This information can include what pages on the website users viewed during their last visit. For example, if I had previously looked at kitchens on IKEA’s website, one should assume that it’s kitchens I’m interested in. Therefore there’s no reason to display cheap bed sheets the next time I visit the front page of IKEA’s website. Rather, the front page should be personalised to show me more relevant information on kitchens.
Similarly, a website owner can have lots of other relevant information. In regards to an online store, has the user previously purchased anything? What gender, age and geographic placement do they have? All of this information can be used to create the perfect, personalised front page.
NetBooster has two initiatives in play, which corresponds with the development of a more personalised User Experience. The first of which is our own project, GroundControl, which focuses on building a DMP (Data Management Platform). This is a database, which collects all the information that is relevant in order to display the right message to the right user. For example, GroundControl gives us the opportunity to build personalised websites and work with 100% personalised display marketing.
Websites initiate a conversation with users
The second initiative is a collaboration NetBooster has initiated with IBM and their marketing automation software, Silverpop. With Silverpop, you’re ready to develop e-mail marketing, at a far more relevant level than that of prior capabilities.
An example of how Silverpop can be used; imagine a chocolate and confectionary company that uses its website to have conversations with their users. Every time you visit their website, you receive a question that you can choose to answer, or not. This question can for example ask if you prefer white or dark chocolate. The answers to these questions are stored, with the user’s permission of course, and next time you visit their website a new question is displayed. This information can be used to change all subsequent communication, both on the website and in e-mails in order to reflect the preferences of the user. This secures a more relevant and personalised communication that in the end leads to higher user satisfaction and increased sales for the company.
We are moving from a paradigm in which users are the audience, to a situation where they are conversation partners in a dialogue focused on strengthening and improving relations between the user and the company. If done correctly, this will lead to sales and advertisements being perceived as a welcomed feature rather than bothersome.
The challenge for companies is to do this in the right way, that won’t make users feel intruded on, but instead benefiting from a service. As a user, there should be a choice. It should be easy to say ‘no’ to personalisation. And in reverse, users who are more positive about this development, should have the option to say ‘yes’ to this modern exchange economy, where personal information is willingly provided in return for free access to fantastic services, which makes the digital world more convenient.
This is the future of personalised marketing – it’s time to get personal!
Written by: Christian Kongsted, Senior Online Consultant at NetBooster Denmark
Do you want to discuss how NetBooster’s GroundControl and IBM’s Silverpop can work in conjunction to bring your website to the age of personalised marketing? Contact us now! You can also meet us at dmexco from the 16-17th September 2015 at Hall 6.1 Nr. F-058.