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Personalisation is the hot topic at the moment. Customers want it, and online businesses want to give it to them.

But what businesses need is the most timely, accurate and, unsurprisingly, “personal” data upon which to base this personalisation

Here are the 10 most important factors to take into account when looking to offer the ultimate in social-powered personalised experiences. 

Historically it has been difficult to build an accurate picture of each individual end user. Businesses have struggled against data limitations, with little or no access to detailed, meaningful information on the individual.

But that has all changed. Social network data can now be mined and refined to produce intricate user profiles and provide deeply meaningful insights.

To achieve the best results from social data, a comprehensive approach towards social personalisation must be deployed.

Summed up below are the 10 most important factors to take into account when looking to offer the ultimate in social-powered personalised experiences. 

1. Earn your access to social media timelines

Personal data is the new digital currency, and is likely to become increasingly valuable for both organisations and individuals in the near future. 

The Boston Consulting Group has estimated that by 2020, the value created through digital identity can deliver a €330bn annual economic benefit for organisations in Europe, and €670bn for consumers.

The combined total digital identity value could amount to roughly 8% of the EU-27 GDP. But, in order for customers to part with their information you will need to demonstrate a return in value for them.

Personalisation needs to provide an improved, relevant, and more engaging experience for your users. Deliver this meaningful and individual experience to your customers and you’ll be in the best position to start realising quantifiable returns on your efforts. 

2. Focus on intent

Simply having more data about someone is not going to be enough, you need to interpret that information into their next most likely course of action, thus determining their intent.

The ability to take all the available information, filter out the noise and then formulate a precise ‘interest fingerprint’ for each individual, will mean you can then calculate their intent.

Once you’ve established their intent, you have the key to delivering the most relevant, personalised experience on your site, making sure what they see matches the intent that they arrived with. 

3. Make it real time

To ascertain their intent at the precise time that they visit your site, all your data and calculations will need to be as up-to-the-minute as possible – after all, people do change their minds now and then.

Social media users will typically post updates once or twice a day, a demonstration that there are a huge number of constantly changing indicators of intent.

Make sure your personalisation solution is always parsing the most recent set of data, in its entirety, and within the present context.

4. Tune as you go

Social personalisation will deliver a greatly improved experience on your site from day one. Easier sign-in processes, personal greetings, individually tailored content recommendations and messages triggered according to your criteria – these are some of the immediate enhancements that your users will notice.

But, as more and more customers take advantage of your personalisation options, you’ll gain more and more interaction data to analyse to work out what offers/products/content match your specific customers.

Learning about users, and adapting to their needs over time, is just as important as the initial intent calculations.

5. Bring in other data sources

There is a lot of social data out there, loads in fact, but only by putting it into context will you be able to make the most out of it. Adding in contextual data – such as time of day, search term, previous onsite actions etc. – will increase the relevance of the personalisation on your site.

There is no point in offering customers articles about travelling in, say, South America, or products such as a guide book or travel insurance, the week after they have returned from their trip.

You’ll need a process that can decipher the noise from all the social media data, and put this information into the wider context in order to get social personalisation spot on.

To improve the experience even further you’ll need to add data from your own inventory, so that you can match every customer’s intent to the content, products, deals and services that you offer.

The Essentials of Social Personalization 

6. Apply some rules

Yes, you can get a very wide set of data from someone when you are granted access to their social identity, but that doesn’t mean you need to forget everything else that you may already know about them or your business.

Bearing this in mind, you should also add your own rules to compliment the wealth of social data. You can use the superior granularity of information provided by social data to offer very specific offers.

For example, customers with identified interests in both London tourism and rock music can be offered, by calibrating rules, specific deals on concert tickets at London venues. 

7. Don’t redirect customers. Enable them

Be careful that you are not just pushing customers to the content that you want them to see, like your most recent special offers.

It needs to be really relevant to their interests, otherwise you’ll risk alienating rather than engaging your visitors.

Execute personalisation well, by making their experience easier and more relevant, and they will be much more likely to come back and to share your content around their networks. 

8. Measure everything

You’ll no doubt want to tune things over time, to make sure that you are getting the utmost benefit from your personalisation efforts.

At the end of the day you’ll want to know that your KPIs are improving, so make sure that you track not only the number of people using your social personalisation features, but also the revenue value that they generate compared to people who do not use them. 

9. Build a bridge to your content

Your content, your products, your offers – these will form the final piece in the personalisation puzzle.

The ‘interest fingerprint’ – and the resulting intent calculations – will form the bridge between the social identities of your visitors and your catalogue of content. Step one is cracking the social code; the final step is mapping this social signal against your inventory.

10. Reach beyond each visitor

Social Personalisation doesn’t stop at the individual. Social networks are, by their very nature, social, so make sure your platform makes it easy for customers to become advocates and share your content.

The abundance of social connections can be utilised to help spread the word for your business, and can now be targeted only at the most interested people – so there’s no more need for widespread Facebook spamming, just the right messages going to the most receptive people, channeled via the most reliable source: their friends.

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Published 10 June, 2013 by Jonathan Lakin

Jonathan Lakin is CEO at Intent HQ and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow on Twitter

2 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Cliff Lin, SEO Specialist at Convertus Digital

Social customization can be very time consuming though it offers great rewards.

about 3 years ago

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Michaela Clement-Hayes, Communications Executive at FusePump Ltd

Absolutely right Jonathan.

If content is personalised, it immediately becomes more relevant and memorable; it should be a priority for any business. Personalisation doesn't just boost sales, it also drives engagement and makes the content more appealing to the audience.

about 3 years ago

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Colette Hobson

Excellent tips and as the UK emerges from recession, it is imperative for firms to understand the value of customer data and its vital importance in enabling them to tailor offers and communications that are seen as relevant and welcomed by customers, thus helping with retention, cross-selling and up-selling.

Too many companies fail to properly analyse the data they have to hand and then to use that information to gain insight into which customers they should be focusing on - those who are potentially the most valuable and loyal - and into how they should go about expanding their relationships with these people.
What's more, with customer insight informing the tailoring and personalisation of communications used in customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing initiatives, companies can then use well-chosen messages and incentives to make sure clients stay with them while getting them to spend more or more often - or both.

Thank you for sharing!

about 3 years ago

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