Who doesn’t enjoy that feeling of walking into a shop and being recognized, welcomed and treated as an individual?

We appreciate the familiarity when the sommelier remembers our favourite grape or a regular supplier unexpectedly sends a little extra on our birthday.

We all relish the personal touch, and this is no less the case when it comes to the marketing we are subjected to online.

If you were to stop and take stock at the leaps and bounds made in personalisation over the past decade or so, you couldn’t fail to be impressed.

Five years ago, the most you could expect was a messages that made a website visitor feel like they were being spoken to, with phrases like ‘Glad to have you back’ being used to develop a ‘relationship’.

If the personalisation was particularly advanced and could work out who you were based on a sign-in or a browser cookie, then perhaps the message might even have been so forward as to have extended to first name terms: ‘Glad to have you back, Tom’.

Never mind the fact you were Mandy, and just happening to be using Tom’s computer. It was still kind of nifty.

These days with the wealth of implicit and explicit customer data available to marketers, the opportunities afforded by personalisation have changed beyond recognition.

Particularly in ecommerce, personalisation has been not just limited to welcome messages, but product recommendations: ‘if you liked this product, try these’.

In other industries, brands such as C-Spire are using social mining and tracking individual’s reading habits to make useful personalised content recommendations to keep them engaged onsite for longer.

As we progress towards the exhilarating world of ‘the Internet of Things’, manufacturers and developers are finding ingenious ways to make a customer’s experience of a product or service become more personal.

Whether it is with Nest, the thermostat that learns the behaviours of the homeowner and adjusts the temperature preemptively or Virgin Air’s in-flight customization, including vending machines that recognize you.

60% of customers online prefer it if an online store remembers their contact details and purchase information. A large swathe of ecommerce customers want that store to retain all of that personal information, and they expect to receive a personal service that recognises them and how they shop.

Fantastic news if you are already talking to your customers in a personalised and relevant way. It is a problem though, if you are not.

What marketers are not doing

The vast majority of marketers are fully aware of the benefits of personalisation. They know full well that personalising the website and, by extension, the other brand touchpoints, for customers makes for a better experience, and that all marketing is good marketing if it has the personal touch.

As Econsultancy’s research shows, 74% of marketers know that personalisation increases customer engagement. Curiously then, the same study highlighted that only 19% of marketers are actually using personalisation.

Perhaps it would do to briefly re-examine three benefits of personalisation:

Personalization increases conversions

Personalization demonstrably increases conversions. After it’s joint venture switchover in 2011, Co-operative Travel has seen a 95% increase in visitors and 217% increase in revenue once it started implementing personalisation onitsr website.

Similarly, BMW netted a cool $500,000 in revenue by personalising MMS messages to 1,200 customers in the US, improving conversions by 30%.

BMW

Personalization improves customer retention

It’s one thing to improve conversions, it’s another to increase recurring conversions, advocacy and retention. Econsultancy’s research showed that post-purchase loyalty programmes which contained personalised offers were one of the most important factors in encouraging repeat purchase.

This is hardly surprising. Customer retention is built on relationship and familiarity, two things that personalisation both facilitates and is predicated upon.

Personalization makes your marketing useful

There is an overload of content, products and services out there. By providing a personalised experience, particularly one that is predictive rather than reactive, brands have a real opportunity to provide much-needed utility in an increasingly noisy world of choices.

The vast majority of marketers are fully aware of the benefits of personalisation. They know full well that personalization onsite – and across other brand touchpoints – makes for a better customer experience, and that good marketing can be made better with the personal touch.

Although personalisation may seem gimmicky at first, there is no doubt that doing it well helps consumers navigate a noisy world in a relevant, helpful and, ultimately, profitable way.