Personalisation – a summary of Together We’re Better, September 2015

A summary of key points from an event hosted by Together We’re Better.

Personalisation is adapting a digital experience to a user’s attributes and presumed interests or needs.

Personalisation isn’t necessarily a good thing – it can come across as good or creepy

A reminder that you should start by understanding your goal, and then work out how to deliver it. Personalisation won’t necessarily be the tool/approach you’re looking for, so don’t ever pursue it for its own sake.

Good personalisation:

  • Marie Curie created a mobile-specific text-to-donate ask because they noticed that mobile users rarely converted on their normal responsive donate page.
  • L.K. Bennett found that UK users were unusually keen on finding out the returns policy, so they highlighted this for UK users

Creepy personalisation:

  • Target predicting when a person becomes pregnant, by looking at their browsing behaviour, and marketing to them on this basis.
  • The well-intentioned Samaritans Radar ran into trouble because of concerns about privacy, stigma and consent.
    There’s sometimes a question about whether to talk about the fact that you’re doing personalisation. Would explaining it make it seem creepy? e.g. saying “We think we know how many children you have.” Would not explaining it be underhand?

    Where can you get the data you need for personalisation?

    • 3rd party
    • From the user themselves, voluntarily (personal data)
    • User behaviour
    • Context

    Trust is important

    When thinking about organisations possessing and using their data, people are concerned about:

    • usage creep
    • lack of personal benefit
    • loss of data

    So to some extent trust is derived from user experience. That’s a interesting and unsettling conclusion, but one which explains why we seem so relaxed about giving corporations loads of personal data in exchange for easy-to-use free tools.

    Giving people the option to access/update/change their data and communications preferences is a better user experience and also good reputation management, as some users will be concerned about this.

    Start small

    It’s better to begin experimenting with personalisation on a small scale:

    • Easier to get the budget
    • Easier to get buy-in and sign-off
    • Easier to manage
    • Easier to track and measure the results – and therefore to prove success
    • Easier to manage data on a smaller scale
    • Easier to manage project risks, and to deal with unanticipated ones that emerge
    • Some things you can do to get started with personalisation

      There’s a lot you can do without carrying out heavy engineering on your website:

      • Video personalisation
      • Email personalisation – and A/B testing to verify the effectiveness of this approach
      • Social personalisation. I’d didn’t get much on this in the presentation and would like to explore this a bit more.

      A useful morning session – I expect to attend the next Together We’re Better event.