The End of Personalization As We Know It (Thank God)

Please allow me a little mea culpa before getting to the point at hand. When I first read this headline Gartner Predicts 80% of Marketers Will Abandon Personalization Efforts by 2025, my immediate reaction was ‘What in the world is Gartner thinking? How could they EVER run such a headline?’

Additional thoughts crept into my head:

  • “This is the dumbest thing I have ever read!”
  • “How could ANYONE abandon personalization?!”
  • “What if the hokey pokey IS what it’s all about?”

That last comment didn’t really have anything to do with any of this but hey, ours is a transparent world so… I share everything.

Looking Beyond the Cover

Much like the iconic edict of not judging a book by its cover, I give you: don’t judge an article by it’s headline/title. If I had in fact judged this particular article by its title, read it and moved on, dismissing it as nonsense, I would have never seen it for what it truly is: a cry for help.

“By 2025, 80% of marketers who have invested in personalization will abandon their efforts due to lack of ROI, the perils of customer data management or both… In fact, 27% of marketers believe data is the key obstacle to personalization — revealing their weaknesses in data collection, integration and protection.”

If that’s not a cry for help, this surely is:

“Marketers face other impediments to personalization success including the continuing decline in consumer trust, increased scrutiny by regulators and tracking barriers erected by tech companies. While personalization comprises 14% of the marketing budget, more than one in four marketing leaders cite technology as a major hurdle to personalization.”

Still not convinced?

“Consumers have developed an increasingly jaundiced eye toward marketers’ efforts to embrace them. Their increasingly cluttered email inboxes and mobile phone notification centers may lead them to ignore even the most carefully personalized and contextualized message. Marketers must really adopt the basics when it comes to test and learn before investing in personalization technology and new tactics.” – Charles Golvin, senior director analyst in the Gartner for Marketers practice

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Blame Something

The other day I shared a piece on LinkedIn which had the following title: Only 24% Marketers Believe AI has a Positive Impact on Marketing. When I shared it, I added the following commentary: “Could it be the (other) 76% don’t know how to maximize AI properly?”

My point was it’s very often easier to blame something, in this case AI, vs. trying to ascertain what really is not working. Perhaps it’s you Mr. Marketer who is to blame, not the tool. Exact same thing is happening here, kids re: personalization.

Does anyone truly believe that more personalization is a bad thing? Does anyone think going back to the days of ‘Dear Occupant’ is the best course of action? Does anyone not want Amazon recommending new products based on what we purchased? Ok perhaps Big Brother Amazon goes a tad too far but you get the point.

Mr. Golvin absolutely, unequivocally nailed it when he said “Marketers must really adopt the basics when it comes to test and learn before investing in personalization technology and new tactics.”

Without question the old school marketing methods of A/B testing and the like are sorely lacking in today’s world. It’s a “dive into the deep end, THEN learn how to swim” mentality.

But that’s not the whole story. Just adding testing to the equation is not enough.

Common Sense Isn’t Always Common

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

We all know this phrase, of course. I learned it the hard way when I was 12 and tried to climb a 12-foot high fence and, well let’s just say it didn’t end well and leave it at that.

How does that apply here, Steve?

Great question.

It applies here when it comes to a certain 4-letter word: DATA

Just because you have mounds and mounds of data on someone doesn’t mean you should use every single ounce of it. Yes I realize privacy rules, laws and standards have changed and will continue to change but the point remains the same.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

  • 27% of marketers believe data is the key obstacle to personalization — revealing their weaknesses in data collection, integration and protection.
  • While personalization comprises 14% of the marketing budget, more than one in four marketing leaders cite technology as a major hurdle to personalization.
  • (Customers) increasingly cluttered email inboxes and mobile phone notification centers may lead them to ignore even the most carefully personalized and contextualized message.

Did you pick up on the theme yet?

Data. Technology. Ignore.

Too much data + the wrong technology = massive ignoring of messages which in turn leads to frustration, decreased sales, levels of engagement and on and on which ultimately leads to the blame game.

The facts are there are technology tools available RIGHT NOW to handle all your data collection needs. That’s the easy part. The hard part is for marketers to A) acknowledge they need new technology(s) and B) when to dial it back when it comes to personalization.

Damn personalization ain’t working! Let’s just bag it altogether! 

Sound about right?

I can’t wait for an email that arrives with the salutation: Dear Sir or Madam

In all seriousness, we can’t possibly ever go back to these days. But we also cannot continue down the same path of personalization on steroids. Yes Virginia, there needs to be a happy medium.

The good news is its out there. So stop blaming something or someone and fix it.

Image source: MarTechToday

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