After Personalization, What’s Next?


In 2004, everyone joined Facebook. In 2007, the iPhone stole the show. And in 2018, everyone is talking about personalized content – from ads on Facebook following a conversation to having their web journey experience paved for them.

The trend for 2019: hyper-personalization.

It may not sound very original, but the concept and execution is innovative. It’s basically taking personalization methods and turning up the dial.

Az Ahmed at SmartFocus explained the difference between personalization and hyper-personalization best, “Personalization amends communication based on a customer’s name, location or even purchase history. Hyper-personalization on the other hand also considers browsing behavior and real-time data to be able to change messages in the moment.”

It’s personalizing in real-time, one-to-one with individuals, instead of per segment.

Starbucks – a company we’ve lauded enough in this magazine, yet they’re doing things right so here we are again – use hyper-personalization in their My Starbucks Rewards Program. According to Shopify, the company tracks what type of phone the user has (for UX reasons and the demographic of users is ultimately different), the typical drink order, the typical order time, which allows them to use produce individualized offers for their customers in real-time. Beyond the offers, the coffee brand can then send personalized emails to users, with content relevant to their coffee habits. And it’s put into tangible practice when those My Rewards members can skip the line because they ordered their coffee, a new blend Starbucks suggested to them, and already paid for it, on their phone.

Andrea Barcelona at DotCMS said, “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.”

How It’s Possible

Obviously Big Data plays a part of any personalization features.  Our previous issue of Logic+Magic defined Big Data as both a noun and a verb. Ultimately, it’s information about consumers that should inform business decisions, based on trends.

Any good CMS should offer some sort of tracking and reporting. The best ones even offer personalization features.

This year, the entire Leap Group staff got certified in Sitefinity’s, our CMS partner, Digital Experience Cloud. Through the DEC, brands can see specifics – who visited their site, from what company; what pages they visited, how long they spent on those pages; if the CTAs worked, if the CTAs didn’t work, etc. Ultimately, there’s a lot of information coming in through the DEC, and brands need to be structured to keep up with that data and remedy any interruption that’s happening within the customer journey.

Aside from tracking, the DEC is set up to automatically customize the user’s web journey. Say someone is visiting a site for the first time, a company’s mission statement can be displayed in a bold font on the homepage. But if the CMS tracks a frequent user’s IP address, it can gather their previous experience on the site, and naturally display a homepage that suggests an appropriate next step for their experience.

Hyper-Personalization with Machine Learning

The possibilities are endless here, and they’ve barely been touched. This is a digital trend we can expect to see more of in 2019.

With machine learning, or AI, partnered with hyper-personalization, the user might as well have a customer representative seated next to them as they browse the company’s site.

We can get the right message to the right person, at the right time and on the right channel, but with machine learning, Reshu Rathi wrote on Entrepreneur “deep learning can take it a notch higher. It takes into account customer taste, personal preferences, spending patterns and even micro preferences combined with external factors, like weather, to send highly customized and more relevant suggestions to their customers.”

Rathi recognized machine learning has already been used, but its not as popular (or as tangible) as personalization. If brands are going to start using machine learning along with personalized content, they need to understand how it works before marrying the two. Otherwise, the data will be insurmountable.

Don’t hear me incorrectly – I have no expectation hyper-personalization is not going to catch on as vastly as the iPhone or Nintendo Wii. But it’s a marketing trend that’s going to separate the digitally-advanced from those that are trying really, really hard. And no matter how great the effort is, users are going to choose the website that personalized their homepage and digital journey.