This is the year of digital personalization

personalization-guys-meAs the first quarter of 2015 closes, a big theme has emerged in digital marketing: personalization. Personalization isn’t necessarily new — digital giants like Amazon, Netflix and Facebook aggregate historical data to suggest products, movies and friends — but digital personalization is now accessible to all. Marketers and brands are pursuing personalization for three reason:

1) The consumer is more elusive than ever. Back in 2010, Forrester’s Josh Bernoff spoke about the emergence of digital consumption on mobile. At that point, 25% of consumers were using mobile only once a week (PDF). Fast forward to 2014, mobile accounts for 25% of every day. Beyond mobile, consumers are spending 40 minutes a day on social so their attention is further divided by other screens.

2) Consumers expects brands to contextualize their content. According to a new report from IBM/Econsultancy, 4 out of every 5 consumers say that brands don’t behave as if they really know them—the translation is the marketers aren’t marketing effectively to consumers. As a marketer, this last point actually stings the most.

3) Consumers have more choices than ever before. According to an article by Consumer Reports on retail, there are 27 varieties of Crest and 25 varieties of Colgate at the supermarket. Brands have a difficult time differentiating their products.

Marketers are also looking for an edge. Research from Adobe of 1,000+ US marketers showed that personalization is the most important priority for companies (PDF). And the payoff for personalization is big. Brands that focus on customers outperform their peers by 2X the revenue and see a 15% reduction in expenses.

In the subsequent posts, I’ll discuss what are the different levels of personalization (hint — are 4 handful), the process to follow to successfully personalize your website and the technologies and platform that enable personalization.