The pandemic opened new opportunities for personalization


I’ve written extensively about the importance of being “the most human company” in your niche. New research from McKinsey shows that the pandemic has elevated personalization as a critical component of any marketing effort going forward.

Meaningful personalization — something more than slapping a name at the top of an email — is not only a crucial capability, it’s one that punches above its weight, no matter whether the company is a digital native, a brick-and-mortar player, or a behind-the-scenes producer or supplier.

The report concluded that:

  • Personalization matters more than ever, with COVID-19 and the surge in digital behaviors raising the bar. Three-quarters of consumers switched to a new store, product, or buying method during the pandemic.
  • Seventy-one percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. And seventy-six percent get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
  • Personalization drives performance and better customer outcomes. Companies that grow faster drive 40 percent more of their revenue from personalization than their slower-growing counterparts.

When asked to define personalization, consumers associate it with positive experiences of being made to feel special. They respond positively when brands demonstrate their investment in the relationship, not just the transaction.

The new personalization

I think this suggests that our old ideas of personalization aren’t sufficient to meet consumer expectations. We should not confuse “personalization” — perhaps a function of automation — with being “personal” and directly connected to a customer’s wants and needs of the moment.

Maybe the new phrase we should focus on to replace “personalization” is customer intimacy. The challenge is, how do you scale intimacy?

Undoubtedly it will be a combination of AI, enabling platforms, and a human touch.

But without a question, the pandemic has changed customer expectations and businesses will find a way to respond, as they always do. Stay tuned!

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of some of the world’s bestselling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Follow Mark on TwitterLinkedInYouTube, and Instagram.

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