What Is Hyper-Personalization?

As big data becomes easier to harvest and compute, hyper-personalized experiences are becoming commonplace — and not just in the marketing world, either.

Even in the fields of nutrition to medicine, the practice of tailoring diet plans and drug dosages to individuals based on their DNA is slowly but surely emerging as the new normal. But in the realm of digital marketing, how granular can we really get?

Hyper-Personalization and Digital Marketing

There isn’t a consensus on any precise definition of hyper-personalization, but we can plainly say that hyper-personalization takes traditional personalization techniques a step further. Whereas before, using the customer’s name in an email would suffice, a hyper-personalized campaign uses browsing, purchasing, and real-time behavioral data from multiple channels and touch-points to tailor content, products, and services to each user.

The ultimate goal of hyper-personalization is to maximize the opportunities a marketer has to tailor content that fits each and every customer’s wants and needs. As you might have guessed, gathering and analyzing more data is the key to those opportunities.

If we go a step further and pair hyper-personalization with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) powered algorithms, not to mention IoT enabled devices, the mind can easily boggle at the potential of hyper-personalization — particularly when you consider that, on top of all the big data at the fingertips of global brands, over 40 percent of consumers say they’re comfortable having a retailer monitor their shopping patterns and purchases.

In fact, studies show that personalized eCommerce and retail experiences result in higher revenue, fewer product returns and greater customer loyalty. Now you know why marketers want to enter “hyper mode” when it comes to personalization.

Personalization vs. Hyper-Personalization

Before we delve into the intricacies of hyper-personalization, let’s first remind ourselves of the definition of traditional personalization, and how it affects marketing campaigns today.  

If personalization is advertising back-to-school supplies for individuals who purchase soccer balls online in August, hyper-personalization is advertising these same school supplies with optimized advertisements based on the location the customer purchased, the time of the purchase, whether or not the customer used a credit card, whether the customer mentioned soccer and related activities on social media, and more.

Traditional personalization deploys profiling techniques to make assumptions about the user based on certain traits, allowing the marketer to tailor messaging, products, or services based on these traits. But this is a far less detailed approach than using specific customer history and real-time context to truly understand the user’s needs and intent. Through hyper-personalization, brands can identify the subtle details about their customers that traditional personalization and profiling fails to catch, which in turn helps them to provide highly targeted and personalized products, services, promotions, and content.

Hyper-personalization is more involved, more complex, and more effective than personalization. It goes beyond customer data.

Marketers can use hyper-personalization to tailor future shopping experiences based on; which elements of a website have been clicked on, which advertisements have been engaged with, which coupons have been applied at the time of purchase, and so forth. Removing elements of your website that interact badly with customers can lead to a better, more streamlined shopping experience and, therefore, more sales.

You can even extend hyper-personalization to the means of communication you have with your customers. If you have social media help desk accounts, or a corporate account on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram for example, you can tailor customer’s interactions with your company online. You can do this by using popular hashtags, using particular tones of voice, and publishing material that your customers actively and positively engage in. Engaging with your customer base online is key, not only for brand awareness, but for your hyper-personalization efforts as well.

Hyper-Personalization: A Heightened Sense of Context

One way a hyper-personalized campaign goes a step further is through additional context. In fact, you could say that context and hyper-personalization go hand-in-hand.

For example, a hyper-personalized marketing campaign will take contextual data — like whether a customer is using an Android phone or an iPhone — into account. That data matters, because the demographics for Android and iOS users are different, and these different factors, like gender and age, will affect your marketing process on even the most basic of advertising campaigns. Further factors that are affected by the phone platform customers use include:

  • How willing a customer is to spend money (Apple products are much more expensive than Android products, so a correlation exists).
  • The country a user lives in (Android leads the market share worldwide, while Apple leads the market share in America).
  • The type of industry a customer works in (statistically, white-collar professionals are more likely to use Apple products due to their standing as a luxury device when compared to cheaper Android products).

By taking all of that data into consideration, you leave the realm of personalization and enter the kingdom of hyper-personalization. And yet, the context of a hyper-personalized marketing campaign can also rely on further context-providing factors and data points including:

  • Name and gender
  • Time, season, and location
  • Profession
  • Marital status
  • Device
  • Price point
  • Products previously purchased
  • Web pages visited
  • Time spent on web pages or apps

Set Your Benchmark

As previously mentioned, there is no absolute definition of hyper-personalization. Depending on your industry and financial bandwidth, one organization’s ability to hyper-personalize will differ from the next organization.

As such, there is no official benchmark or dividing line between personalization and hyper-personalization — so you’ll need to set your own. Evaluate your personalization campaigns as they stand today, the additional data that isn’t being used, and the opportunities your brand has to collect even more customer data (in line with the GDPR, of course). From there, you’ll be able to evolve your personalization strategy and deliver hyper-personalized experiences — which is precisely what your customers want.

April 15, 2018

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