I’ll admit it. In the early days of my first PR job I flung my press releases far and wide, hammering as many contacts as possible in the hope that somewhere, somehow, the story would stick. Did it work? No. Did I receive seething emails from journalists informing me that slinky men’s swimming tangas were ridiculous and irrelevant to their macho motorist readership. Yes.

It was my first lesson in the pitfalls of assuming that one-size-fits-all. Because journalists, much like consumers, prefer a more personal touch.

This works on a micro scale – your local grocer, optician and milkman might know you by name and know enough about your typical shopping basket to tailor their product recommendations. You probably appreciate it. On a macro, e-commerce scale, this means tracking customer journeys and capturing customer data in order to serve relevant content and offers. Do consumers appreciate it?

According to a recent infographic by Monetate, 85% of consumers are aware that brands track their online shopping behaviour, but they are also aware that this enables the brands to match content to their interests. What’s more interesting is that 75% of the consumers polled actively preferred for brands to use their personal details to improve their shopping experience. In other words, their desire for relevancy and personalisation superseded the need for privacy.

The demand, it seems, is there. But what about the return?

According to Retail Week, the fashion giant, Arcadia, incorporated personalisation software into its e-commerce platform that enabled the company to track customer behaviours and serve up recommended products personalised to each individual customer. Products based on real-time stock information guaranteeing that the products were available to purchase at that time. As a result Arcadia saw online order values increase by 67%, while 7% of e-commerce sales have been attributed to the group’s personalisation pilot.

Personalised customer service is as old as commerce. But for digital and social marketers alike, the shift from generic mail shots, all-encompassing websites and mass-market messaging to an entirely more personalised approach to consumers, is an emerging trend that looks set to firmly cement itself into the digital psyche of 2013.

Infographic courtesy of Monetate

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