The Importance of Personalized Content

Early in my career, I worked with R/GA on projects for Nike ID and Nike+ to help customers feel ownership in the brand. Nike later revealed these personalized experiences yield three times more than casual visitors to their site. Nike CEO Mark Parker stated Nike’s goal is to get “more personal at scale”. Recently, Nike renamed this line “Nike By You,” and Daniel Edmundson, a strategy director at Gretel who worked on the rebrand, noted that it was important to Nike’s audience to have “the chance to be heard.”

Personalization has been a big topic for a while now, and it’s certainly not going anywhere. Done badly, personalization can appear intrusive and off-putting, but Nike’s work is a reminder that doesn’t need to be the case: personalization is a way to improve your customer’s experience by giving them a voice in your work. Whether used in products or marketing, personalization is an important technique to recognizing and promoting your audience’s interests.

Why personalization matters: 

Harvard Business Review says to think about personalized marketing as building a relationship with your customer.  Similarly, CMSwire argues that “the future of personalization will be based on trust.” Personalization is a major opportunity to make or break the trust in this relationship. Do it correctly, and your customer will feel cared for through the purchasing process and will gain trust as you establish that your company has their interests at heart, developing greater brand loyalty. 

This is where a human-centered approach can help. Design a personal experience for your customers to establish a two-relationship. Treat them like people, not data. It’s worth it: personalized content is so powerful it has been found to have significantly more engagement than standardized content. In fact, studies show customers have come to expect a personalized digital experience.

Creating effective personalization:

I see two main strategies used in successful personalization: the first empowers the customer to take an active role in creating the product or experience. Nike By You is one example of this. My colleague Jake Reni at Tiled talks about using a similar idea in sales by letting his buyer drive the conversation, steer through content, and let them speak to what resonates. Working this way gives your customer a voice, and you act as the facilitator.

The second strategy is simple: listen to your customer, and show them you’re listening. The point isn’t to make things personalized, it’s to make them personal. Consider the experience of reading a terms and conditions page, or some DMV paperwork. You have to skim through pages upon pages of material that don’t apply to your situation to find the clause that does, and once you do find it, it’s often so short and dense that it doesn’t really tell you what your were looking for. Personalization works to create the opposite of that: an experience that addresses what is relevant to your user in a way that is interesting and useful to them.

Effective personalization brings a human quality to your commercial interactions. With the goal of personalization at scale, it’s always important to incorporate an empathetic personal perspective and consider your customer’s point of view.mentality of working for your customers personally and individual into your efforts. Your customers will thank you for looking out for their interests and making their job easier.