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  Customisation versus Personalisation: a behavioural study that questions some eMarketing foundations

Customisation versus Personalisation: a behavioural study that questions some eMarketing foundations.

How often should you send e-mail marketing messages



A study of more than 300 American online consumers, conducted by Paul F.Hunes and Ajit Kambil, who are both associate partners of Accenture, just compared two types of services offered to Internet users: customisation and personalisation of Web sites.

To make things a bit clearer, customization corresponds to services such as My Yahoo!, that allow users to "filter" a site content so that it corresponds to its own tastes.

The Internet user will be able to display only the things he is interesting in on the home page, or else he will be able to modify the colours that are displayed on the site…


As for personalisation, it uses artificial intelligence. In this case, the customer's profile is registered on the site's database and updated regularly according to his visits, which will automatically generate personalised Web pages that fit his profile.

In this case, the user do not have anything specific to do, the choices are made by the personalisation system itself.

The book and music recommendation system by Amazon.com is the perfect illustration of a successful personalisation.

What appears interesting in this study is that it tried to confront these two approaches to the consumers' real needs.

Among the results displayed on this study, 93% of respondents indicated that they have already customized at least one site and 25% even said that they customized more than 4 Web sites to their own tastes.

On the other hand, 42% of respondents indicated they did not get any benefit from personalised Web sites.

In order to find out how respondents reacted to these two Internet approaches, the authors of the study also confronted these consumers with two different types of online grocers, one that allows customisation when the other makes automatic personalisation.

In this case, only 6% of respondents declared they preferred the personalised site… Sport sites and investment sites got the same results.

Some elements might help us better understand such attitude.

First of all, Web sites personalisation often requires that the user first provides the site with some personal information and raises the usual problem of privacy. Users are often reluctant to communicate personal information, as they do not really see the advantages they will gain from this, as this study tends to demonstrate.

What's more, personalisation software still contains bugs and users sometimes get advice that are likely to make us smile when words and situations are taken out of context.
The upshot of this study is that users wish to be in control of the filter; they do not want a machine to personalise their profile in an automatic way.

Many Web sites opted for personalisation capabilities instead of giving consumers the choice to customize their interface as they thought customers would not be patient enough to use the customisation features displayed on the site.

This study proves that when Internet users find an interest in something, they are willing to invest some of their time to "learn" a Web site and put it to good use.

The best solution might not be quite as black-and-white as the study seems to suggest and the best thing to do would be to combine the two approaches.

All this depends on Web sites themselves, but also on the business model they chose to adopt and… of course on customers, last link people tend to forget a bit too quickly on the Internet.

Source : Harvard Business Review

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   How often should you send e-mail marketing messages?  

Spam, viral marketing that turns against you, permission marketing misunderstood by your users…even the most serious Web sites happen to make many marketing mistakes.

E-mail marketers often fall into the trap of sending out too many frequent commercial communications.

And yet, a site might comply with the rules of permission e-mail in the strictest way (e-mails sent according to the frequency selected by customers themselves), and still see its unsubscribe rate increase.

We could be tempted to think that when a user chooses to register to a mailing list of his own accord, after he selected the frequency of mailings that best suited him, everything should go smoothly.

And yet, reality proves very different.

This way of seeing things implies that your users are sufficiently mature and have enough elements to decide by themselves which is the best frequency to receive your e-mail marketing messages.

Not only can this maturity happen to be missing, but what's more, the interest a user might have for a given subject often proves to last only a limited time. What's more, as users receive more and more messages in their mailboxes, even though you might not be personally responsible, they might be tempted to unsubscribe, even though they deliberately chose to register in the first time.

The most typical example can be seen in the eTourism sector (see to that matter my eTourismnewsletter, a Web site that proves totally dedicated to such problematics). People who work in this sector are often tempted to hurl promotional e-mails at their potential customers.

Web sites should try and find out who their visitors really are: are they bargain hunters or "normal" customers?

The bargain hunter, as he is always on the lookout for good bargains on the Internet, will not take offence if he receives your good deals nearly everyday. On the other hand, the "normal" customer will hardly bear to receive your e-mails more than once a week.

Part of the answer can be found in a site's target customer but also in its ability to segment it in order to present the said target customer with a communication that matches its real needs.

What's more, one should also keep in mind the notion of real added value that an e-mail can bring to an Internet user.

There is no doubt that should this added-value decrease as the user who gets it no longer proves very interested in your products or else because the content of the message itself has lost some of its quality, the user will automatically unsubscribe.

The FloNetwork company, specialised in e-mail marketing, just conducted a survey to find out what permission marketing really meant in terms of e-mails.

This study illustrates this problem of e-mail frequency in a general way and should give you a better understanding of the limits of what a customer or a prospect customer can tolerate.

According to this study, American respondents (who are able to choose the frequency of their e-mails according to the rules of permission marketing), would like to receive an e-mail:

  • Daily: 12%.
  • A couple of times a week: 18%.
  • Once a week: 31%.
  • Every other week: 10%.
  • Once a month: 18%.
  • Less than once a month: 6%.
  • Don't know: 5%.

As you can see, the best-tolerated frequency proves to be once a week. Incidentally, this happens to be the frequency ecommerce Web sites most commonly use.

It goes without saying that these elements of reflection are given for information only and depend on who your customer really are but also the sector of activity you're in.

What appears clear is that it is becoming both harder and more costly to customize visitors and, as a result, it would be a pity to loose such favoured contact only because you overdid it on the marketing point of view.

Source : Emarketer

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