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Last year Econsultancy published an article claiming that some businesses doubt the value of personalisation.

Although 94% of companies agree that personalisation ‘is critical to current and future success’ less than half of companies are personalising their website experience.

This isn’t because they think personalisation is unimportant, but because they don’t actually know how to make the most of it.

However, even the smallest of companies can target their consumers directly using personalised content.

We all know that everyone’s unique. We all like different food, clothes etc. so why would brands ignore this fact and treat us all the same?

Everyone prefers the personal touch so retailers should be using this in their marketing campaigns. You need to make your consumer feel like an individual, rather than just another shopper.

So how is this done?

Buying presents for our friends and family is easy because we know them well so companies need to almost ‘be friends’ with us to prove that they know us.

With so much customer data at their fingertips companies can easily find out the most intimate details about you so they have no excuse not to personalise their marketing content.

Data is crucial for personalising content, but even if a company hasn’t collected that much, there is plenty freely available online, particularly on social media where people bare their souls.

If done well, content personalisation can help to build a trusted relationship with your customers, as they learn to expect relevant offers and information, which improves their overall satisfaction and helps to retain customer loyalty.

Happy birthday

A staggering 95% of the younger generations expect brands to work for their business by offering vouchers or discounts and are unlikely to buy anything without first checking to see if an offer is available.

In order to court these young shoppers, sending treats and vouchers to them so they don’t have to search for them shows that you care about retaining their business.

The smallest gesture, from a bottle of wine to 50% off a birthday dinner helps to add to the personal touch.

Personalised Birthday Email


Google is well-known for personalising search results based on a person’s previous browsing history and activity. This means that two people searching for the same thing may see different results because of the personalised algorithm, especially if they are signed into Google Chrome.

Classified advertising can also be personalised so that householders searching for a plumber, builder etc. will be targeted with adverts for companies that are located nearby.

Obviously this makes sense – who wants to see adverts for nursery schools in St Ives if you live in Dunfermline? The Google maps tool now offers enhanced personalisation for users.

If you are logged into Google, the tool will gradually learn your preferences to predict behavioural patterns (e.g. where you live and work) and suggest places of interest to you.

It also links your reviews to Google Plus so that if your friends are searching for somewhere to go, they’ll see your recommendations. So, the more that you use the new Google Maps tool, the more useful and personalised it becomes.

Google maps personalised pizza


More than 70% of UK adults now have a smartphone, which means that our movements are easily tracked, especially if we ‘check in’ on Facebook, Foursquare etc. to show our friends where we are and what exciting activities we’re up to that day.

By promoting our whereabouts online, we are allowing companies to target us with real-time adverts that should be relevant to what we want and where we are.

This helps retailers to entice consumers into their store, as they know that we are nearby. Each time you check in on Foursquare (which has more than 30,000 users), you receive local tips and recommendations for where to eat, what to do etc. helping local businesses promote themselves to consumers nearby.

You can also see where your friends have been, which exists as another form of recommendation. 


Personalised online promotions are also effective at driving people offline, particularly with mobile coupons offered by sites such as Groupon. In fact, 45% of Groupon’s sales are made on a mobile device because users can redeem the offers at point of sale using their mobile.

So if a shopper decides to take a break for lunch and is looking for somewhere to eat, local restaurants could target them with lunchtime offers to try and entice them inside.

As daily deal sites often include a significant discount on expensive products or activities and only last for a limited time, they are more attractive to consumers who tend to impulse buy, especially if the deal is nearby.  

Groupon Daily Deal


Twitter already offers promoted tweets based on user location and according to stats, almost 25% of users have seen promoted tweets from companies that are relevant to them.

Twitter is now trialling advertising based on keywords as well, enabling businesses to target users who tweet certain words in real-time.

So Starbucks could bid on the keywords ‘tired’ and ‘coffee’ and if someone tweets ‘So tired this morning – really need a coffee. #HateMondays’, Starbucks could run a promoted tweet for that user offering a discount in the closest Starbucks.

However, there are also plans to run a negative sentiment filter so that a tweet saying ‘Drunk too much coffee and I’m still tired. #Bedtime’ would not see the promoted tweet. 

Starbucks promoted tweet

Personalised content is king

Personalising content for online customers should make them pay more attention to your products and engage with your brand. Keeping marketing content relevant should be a priority for all businesses, which need to directly target their customers, either individually or in segments.

This can be as simple as using a customer’s name at the top of an email. Once you have captured data, it becomes much easier to target product content towards your existing customers using marketing technologies such as data feeds.

In fact, it is making it almost too easy to target people wherever they are, to the extent that soon we will be informed of the offers available in each store or restaurant in real-time as we walk down the high street, whether or not we want to be!

Robert Durkin

Published 4 March, 2014 by Robert Durkin

Robert Durkin is Chairman and Co-Founder of FusePump and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter.

15 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Jack Britton, Technical Assistant at LogicalJack SEO

The only thing to be careful of is going too far the other way, while its nice to have some personalisation as a customer, people tend to feel uneasy if you are too visible with this.

over 2 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Totally agree. It's about "staying on topic" with each shopper's interests and not wasting their attention on marketing things that you should know they don't care about.

over 2 years ago

Robert Durkin

Robert Durkin, Founder at FusePump (WPP)Enterprise

Absolutely - it's important to strike a balance between impressing the customer with personalisation and bombarding them with far too much of it!

over 2 years ago


Nidhi Lal

absolutely ..:)

over 2 years ago


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over 2 years ago


Richard Game

Thanks Robert, some good examples here.

It's easy to be overly positive about personalisation and it's easy to be slightly negative or even to disregard it, as per your intro stat.

2 important and often forgotten aspects to personalisation:

COST - don't underestimate the resource required to maintain and manage personalisation 'campaigns' in scale. The ultimate lack of success of companies such as BroadVision, pioneers of online realtime content customisation, show that the end use of (and appetite for) large scale personalisation isn't, or at least, hasn't been there. Add to this process cost the lack of expertise to run personalisation effectively, and the technology becomes redundant.

PRE/POST PURCHASE - post purchase a no-brainer you'd think, but still many organisations find personalisation to be a level of sophistication they can't (or just don't) rise to, leaving the holy grail of customer acquisition personalisation; as a user experience many simply don't want, or like, excessive customisation: you read a broadsheet to read the editor's breadth of news. Many current online attempts at personalisation are crude, bordering on creepy.

It can be done, and is being done, but personalisation is a precision not a blunt tool, to used with care (and skill). It shouldn't be another fad to jump into, but a voyage of adventure with the associated risk of travel well managed. Personalisation itself need better definition, more articulation, and indeed customisation.

over 2 years ago

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