Michael Di Natale [pictured] is the managing director at VERSA. In this piece, he discusses the power and benefits of hyper-personalisation and shares advice on how to capitalise on this new technology wave.
Customers now expect personalisation as standard practice. Amazon research shows six out of ten expect their experience with your brand to be specific to their needs at any specific moment in time.
The burden to deliver has often rested in the hands of marketers, asked to navigate the world of machine learning and AI, understandably with very mixed results at best.
Technology and processes up until now were just not mature enough, and as a result the promises made by the industry were almost never fulfilled…until now, that is. Technology has finally caught up to the expectation and made not just personalisation, but hyper-personalisation, at scale a reality.
What we mean by hyper-personalisation is the ability to leverage conversational artificial intelligence (CAI) and real-time user input to deliver relevant contextual content and information, specific to each individual user.
From lip service to the real deal
Clients have been screaming out for personalisation for decades, but most have been given nothing but lip service for their investment. Platform and software providers (even agencies themselves) have taken advantage of the extremely grey area surrounding the concept of ‘personalisation’ to the detriment of clients.
Where it was possible, it has been an inflated investment – beyond budget limits of the vast majority. And while providers talk about it happening ‘out-of-the-box’, as good as that sounds, it’s unfortunately not that straightforward. An out-of-the-box personalisation solution? Is that an oxymoron, or just ironic?
Yes, it’s been possible to build a personalised experience based on behaviour with enterprise-level systems, but it’s a very complex and expensive undertaking that needs deep pockets, not to mention the significant long term investment of dedicated teams required to build out and maintain personas, flows, journeys and associated ongoing activity.
Democratising personalisation – accessible and affordable
It’s all good and well for me to be writing about this, but my company has recently put our money where our mouth is. We’ve delivered on providing the true personalisation that clients have been waiting for by building an AI, bot-activated, navigation-less website where every experience and journey is unique for every visitor. We’ve eliminated traditional navigation menus and tabs, instead dynamically serving content based on what a visitor asks for – in their own words, using voice or text.
Finally, technology has democratised personalisation. It’s no longer only affordable to the top end of town, leveling the playing field, which is a big win for all, especially end users. For the first time, we are talking about delivering hyper-personalised, dialogue-driven experiences at scale, and available to everyone.
It’s not who you know, it’s what they want
Traditionally, personalisation and even hyper-personalisation, was only possible when an organisation already knew who the visitor was – and the visitor usually had to log in, not something many users want to do as they browse a website.
Now, personalisation is possible whether you know who that visitor is or not. Our bot-activated, navigation-less website provides personalisation to every website visitor from the get-go, regardless of who they are, or where they’ve come from. Visitors are not required to log in or share any personal data to have a personalised experience. We don’t really mind who they are, we just want to share content that the user will find most relevant at any specific moment.
Conversational data expedites continuous improvement
Whilst hyper-personalisation will drive unprecedented gains for the customer, we’ve also seen significant benefits in a very short space of time in terms of the data collected and the speed of translating data into action, with real purpose.
Evaluating success using traditional website metrics such as page views and time spent on site is fraught with challenges. Is time spent a true indicator of high engagement or frustration at not being able to find what you want quickly and easily? We no longer have this ambiguity to worry about.
1 in 4 users now give specific data related to “what they want” by entering their specific intent. The knock-on effect is that the time spent to take action from the data has reduced exponentially.
Two-way conversations create bespoke user journeys
By integrating chatbot and CMS technology, navigation-less websites are both contextual and personal by design. It’s not a one-way search – it’s a two-way conversation. The visitor has a conversation with the website to get the information they’re most interested in, only being served content that makes sense. This avoids what Accenture called the ‘burden of choice’ in its Personalisation Pulse Check report that found that 40 per cent of users have left a website because they were overwhelmed by too much choice.
Being hyper-personal doesn’t mean giving visitors endless choice. A navigation-less website shouldn’t lay out a smorgasbord of options and ask visitors to find what they want in an all you can eat content buffet. Who’s hungry all of a sudden? That’s not personalisation. That’s confusing. It’s important to create a bespoke story by asking visitors what they want, present it to them and enhance it with relevant recommendations and suggestions.
In a post-cookie world and new privacy landscape, this is a game-changer. Very important in a world where consumer expectations for a personalised experience have rapidly outpaced the ability to deliver it. The ability to deliver hyper-personalisation at scale has been a long time coming, but it’s here now and time for all to take full advantage. It may be the end of the wait, but it is just the beginning of the endless possibilities that await.
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