PersonalizationPersonalization seems to be one of the new buzzwords in the loyalty marketing industry. Indraneel Mukherjee, CEO of LiftIgniter, talked to Loyalty360 about trends he sees regarding personalization and website/app personalization.

How will website/app personalization change for brands in 2016?

We expect personalization to go to the next level in 2016. Websites and apps will be forced to personalize more as competition grows even stronger. Time is a zero sum game and each shopper (or user) has a multitude of options. If your site or app is unable to show users exactly what they want at the right moment, then they will leave and find a competitor who does. Personalization enables sites and apps to proactively provide the answer a user wants, leading to increased conversion and brand loyalty. Why go to a competitor’s site or app if the app you’re on already has just what you want each time you visit?

What are brands doing well now in this regard, and what are they not doing so well?

Pinterest is an example of a brand that does personalization well. They are great at figuring out who you are following and tags that you like. Just like Facebook and YouTube don’t win because they have the most content, Pinterest wins because they do the best job at targeting the right piece of content at the right time. However, they are not great at contextualizing in real time to predict what a user will want next. Too much of what they show is based on previous history, rather than real-time predictions at that given moment, which is the most powerful.

Many other larger brands and stores personalize newsletters and shopping experiences, but it is highly curated by a human and/or based on previous shopping history. This is a fail because just because I bought blue shorts in the summer does not mean I want blue shorts in the fall. Tag-based systems that only look at history for a given user and don’t take all factors such as location, time of day, and available shopping items into account.

Personalization is such a key differentiator for brands. How will website/app personalization impact future customer engagement tactics for brands?2016 Personalization

Personalization means two things: In the old days (i.e. 2015) most brands thought of their brand as being personalized because it attracted a certain segment with certain affinity feelings toward the brand. In 2016, personalization will go to the next level where it’s not just a basic brand affinity that is generalized to a brand’s entire segment, but instead is personalized to each user of that brand.

Put another way, personalization used to be about brand A vs. brand B vs. brand C. With machine learning, the question isn’t just how to personalize between brands, but instead how to personalize between each unique user, whose preferences also change at each moment in time. This will dramatically impact customer engagement tactics since what each user sees will be unique to them at any given moment in time, leading to dramatic improvements in engagement, brand affinity, and conversion.

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