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5 Elements of a Personalization Definition

Everyone seems to have their own personal take on personalization. Definitions lay scattered across the internet. From Wikipedia to Google to any number of "personalization" vendors, you can find a host of different definitions and interpretations.   

Even we, here at Merkle, have our own take on defining personalization. 

If I were to simplify the definition, I would say something to the effect of, "Personalization manages an interactive conversation of optimized content relevant to the customer journey."

Within this statement, I have called out five key elements. Let me take a moment to break them apart for you, as the simplified definition means so much more.

  • Interactive leverages both responsive and non-responsive customer engagement so as to create an ongoing dialogue (conversation). Interactive enables the learning aspect of personalization and aids in the targeting of the decision management engine.
  • Conversation recognizes that personalization is a two-way interaction. Conversations are about listening and responding accordingly. Conversations occur across the entire addressability spectrum and within an integrated environment of channel and media. 
  • Optimized is the ability to combine many varieties of data types to produce useful models. Optimized models leverage the appropriate content so as to identify key “pivot points.” The key purpose of the pivot points is to provide relevant messages and offers with the highest likelihood of effecting the consumer conversation.
  • Relevant represents the part of personalization that speaks directly to the individual. It identifies the person by name. It leverages both explicit and implicit data to present the customer with content and creative that speaks to them directly.
  • Journey recognizes that a relationship with a customer should exist beyond a linear funnel; instead, personalization should focus on the development of an ongoing relationship between the company and their consumers. Journey is what drives consumers from a prospect to a brand advocate. 

As a final note, defining personalization is only the beginning.  The ongoing support of a comprehensive personalization program requires the right people, the right processes, the right technology, and the right data, but that is a topic for another time.

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