On personalisation for EGR Magazine

1. How has personalisation within digital marketing changed over the last few years? Is it getting better?

Of course it’s getting better. Big data gives us access to much more information about customers and potential customers. Predictive analytics (think Amazon’s Featured Recommendations) means that marketing campaigns can in theory be personalised for each customer, but it’s a fine balance. Being told by Amazon that the ink cartridges that you tend to buy every 3 months or so, have been discounted may be just the prompt you need to stock up. Bombarding a customer with recommendations to watch a Kardashian boxset because you once bought a Kanye CD is frankly just annoying.

2. Which companies have excelled outside of egaming? And in which digital marketing channels is personalisation most mature?

Amazon certainly, Ebay, Netflix, all have nailed personalisation to a large degree. More recently I came across Thread.com, a clothing retailer that assigns a stylist to you and based on your personal preferences and existing wardrobe will not just recommend items to add but also send very slick suggestions on how to wear them well. Thread also allows you to ask advice from their stylists, it’s like having a personal shopper.

3. What about in the egaming industry? And what are they doing that is so special? Is it possible to quantify its impact?

Gambling companies have all jumped into programmatic advertising in an effort to decrease cost per acquisition. While they also have been strong at mining their database to reactivate lapsed players or cross sell products, there is still some improvement to be made in order to provide customers with more intuitive messaging. More work needs to be done to separate useful and less useful information and then determine how it can be best used to increase engagement and ROI. This should be seen as an ongoing process, continually reevaluated.

We are now seeing recommendation engines being introduced on operators casino pages. Customers will be served games that they have previously played or that they are likely to play based on their past behaviour. To the best of my knowledge, we are yet to see similar efforts with sports book operators. In an ideal world no user would have the same home page when logging in as it would only feature the markets they are most likely to take together with promotions that are just customised for them.

The cash out functionality was a great move in term of personalisation. It gives something unique for the user based on their previous actions. It gives them control and has resulted in better engagement.

Can more be done? Yes certainly, but there is a need for continually developing the right technology offering quicker processing leading to relevant realtime action. Ongoing efforts also need to focus on developing a more intimate type of conversation with customers where they are being listened to rather than endlessly served new bonus offers.

4. Why is marketing personalisation so important? Does it really matter?

It is essential. Who does not want to feel special and looked after? It even matters more perhaps for more traditional businesses that have lost ground to purely digital companies that have been doing personalisation almost from inception. Companies like Coca Cola, Marmite and Nutella have all launched a limited form of customisation in allowing consumers to personalise their labels the product though remains the same. For brands to be successful longterm they are going to need to be able to personalise the product as well which is going to be a challenge, particularly for traditional FMCG companies. What will pay dividends in the long term is the idea of establishing a one to one relationship with customers based on something with substance, creating content that users value and that goes beyond the gimmick.

5. How important is big data as part of enhancing personalisation?

Data allows for better insight into customer behaviour across different devices and social media. Data collection is only the first part of the story. It’s the ability to analyse it, in order to turn it into actionable insight, that allows companies to serve a customised experience or message to a user. Through personalised dynamic retargeting, brands can serve highly relevant advertising messages to users which (in most cases) will result in better conversion and therefore better ROI.

6. What is holding back companies from successfully personalising their digital marketing?

The need to develop technology that can make sense of the massive quantity of data that is becoming available, translate it into concrete actions, as well as the balance between being useful and intrusive. Brands that appear to be stalking customers can quickly gain a reputation for being creepy rather than helpful which is a major turnoff for most consumers.

7. How do you think personalisation will change over the coming years? What trends do you expect to see?

There is an argument that personalised ads are seen as more negative than positive by consumers and that these kind of ads, perceived as even more intrusive and irritating than regular ads, simply hasten the rush towards the adblocker. Where personalisation really stands up however is where the consumer feels more in control and can see and feel benefit from the goods and services that they are being presented with. When companies get the balance of usefulness, information, inspiration, and aspiration right, then personalisation has the capacity to be transformational. If brands get it wrong then we will see a massive backlash against the offenders.

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