Personalization has become one of the most trending digital marketing keywords, with numerous articles written about hyper-segmentation. The more hours we spend online, the more data companies collect about us. Many believe we should gather and use as much data as possible to look for trends and patterns, but I personally think personalization should use as little data as possible.

Personalization is not about impressing your customers with how and what you know about them. Personalization is about helping and making life easier for your customers. The first question you should ask yourself is,“What value and benefit do I want to give my customers?” Imagine you are the owner of a jeans store, and you plan to send a marketing email. Knowing the name of the customer will help start the conversation, but sharing the fact that you know in-depth knowledge of their life can be perceived as “too interested” and at the end of the day, how does that help John. For example, "Hi John, I know that you live in central London, you are 32 years old, you have two kids, and you go shopping every Friday evening at the Soho mall". This message will not deliver the results  you want or help John.  "Hi, John! Check out these new arrivals! Here is your chance to show the top seller jeans sold in London to 32 year old men. Remember that this Friday, our Soho shop will open until 21h." That is helpful for John.

The goal of personalization is to make a brand’s content, messages, and suggestions relevant to its target audience. I work in the travel and hospitality industry for Radisson Hotel Group, a company committed to delivering memorable moments, and making sure that "Every Moment Matters." Radisson Hotel Group prioritizes a customer-centric culture, empowered by the Yes, I can! service philosophy which we apply in allour hotels. Today, the customer relations journey starts online. My role is to ensure that we deliver the best customer journey possible,and showing relevant content is a crucial part of that experience.

In the travel industry, one of the key facts we need to know is where the traveler is to help us predict where the traveler will want to go. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to adapt the destinations we were recommending based on a whole new range of variables. Our knowledge from previous years was no longer valid in this context. We had to adapt quickly and suggest new destinations based on the changing travel climate, where travelers were based, and where they could go based on both government restrictions and health precautions. We saw a very positive increase in our conversion rate in the countries where we started to "geo-target" content. Today, this has remained a key tool we use on our website.

"Personalization is not about impressing your customers with how much data you have collected about them"

What are the first steps to achieve personalization? First, you need to be clear on what criteria guide and define your customers' wants. For example, in the case of the travel industry, where the user lives and the type of traveler they are, whether business or leisure, are fundamental criteria that define their interests and decision-making process. Second, you need to review what information you have available. Following the same travel example, we know the user’s location based on their IP address, and based on the occupancy search (kids, single adult, etc.), we have an idea of what type of traveler they are. Third, you need to plan campaigns using different content tailored to different  audiences. Last but not least, you need to A/B test your hypothesis and track the data to see if the personalized message has worked and delivered strong conversion rates.