January 25, 2018

Personalized vs. Appropriate

My wife saw something on Pinterest about model trains ... I visited a model train show and performed a couple of Google searches and next thing you know the surveillance economy decided that my wife should see something about model trains.

There is a difference between something that is personalized and something that is appropriate.

Personalization is a #datadriven theology executed by algorithms seeking to maximize short-term ROI. We put "DEAR KEVIN" in an email message and then we tell the customer that the shopping cart has three items in it and then we offer a 20% off promo to sweeten the deal." Out of 100 conversions, 80 would have happened anyway ... but we take credit for all 100 and we celebrate!!!!

Whether Personalization is Appropriate or not is a whole 'nuther deal.

Here's an add that is clearly Personalized and is Not Appropriate. I'm visiting a sprint car racing forum and I get this ad:



The ad fails the "right message at the right time to the right person" nonsense we keep hearing about.

I live in Arizona ... so this email probably isn't personalized and probably isn't appropriate! At press time, we hit a high of 77 degrees at my home.


Most of Personalization has gone the route of algorithms ... algorithms using bad data too late in the process (think #retargeting). When you go the route of algorithms, you lose the "soul" of the process.

Now think what somebody like Custora does for your business ... displaying a merchandise assortment to you that is tailored to prior buying activity and to a much lesser extent tailored to visitation data. That's "Appropriate". It's also personalized, but as the consumer of information you don't even know what you are seeing is different than what somebody else is seeing.

Personalization can reflect algorithmic brilliance and be utterly meaningless.

Appropriate Marketing is important and meaningful, and isn't practiced enough in our industry.

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