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Why personalization and relevance should not be confused
For the past couple of years there has been a push for brands to create more relevant, personalized experiences. Some brands have taken this push to heart, but others have confused relevance and personalization as the same thing. The two terms are quite different, though, and one expert offers his advice to creating both relevant and personalized content experiences in the mobile space.
Kristina: How is the mobile space helping brands create a more personalized customer experience?
John Kottcamp, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, Tahzoo: Mobile is the ultimate untethering of consumer and location or technology. That means that you no longer need to be at home to do things like banking, insurance, read books, or plan travel. It also means that the concept of real-time becomes ever more important. Mobile conveys a sense of immediacy. This means that brands now have to add the dimensions of time and location to the definitions of customer experience. It's no longer sufficient to think in terms of being multi-channel, brands now have to think of being omni-channel.
Kristina: At this point are 'relevant' and 'personalized' experience basically the same thing?
John: The difference is that relevancy is fleeting and subjective, whereas personalization is precise. Facebook is a perfect example of the definition and importance of relevancy. In general, banner ads on Facebook perform worse than any other type of advertising. Last year, click through rates were less than 1/2 of 1 per cent. That's twice as bad as paid search, up to ten times worse than email. The reason is relevancy. When a person is on their Facebook page, they are generally engaging with their friends. And they are typically engaging about a specific topic, news or interest that is top of mind at that moment. Their minds are focused. So when they see a banner ad on the right side of the page, they are less likely to click on it unless it is really relevant to where their mind is at that moment, regardless of what interest they may have listed on their Facebook account when they set it up. Today's recent college grads probably set up their Facebook pages in high school. Most likely their interests may have either changed or the prioritization of those interests most likely have changed. In other words, the bar has been raised for relevancy and it's a function of time, mind share, location, activities (remember almost half of all Facebook posts are done from a mobile device).
Personalization, on the other hand, is the selection and presentation of content targeted specifically to the individual. It started a decade ago on websites and emails by replacing "dear valued customer" with "welcome back John." It evolved in cases like Amazon with recommendations, "if you liked Harry Potter, you'll like...." And currently it extends from seeing banner ads on web properties that reflect what you've been searching for on Google (with an occasional "big brother" backlash) to the presentation and organization of content based on a combination of implicit and explicit data about you, your attitudes and behavior. Personalization is presenting the individual with a unique set of content.
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