Whew, things are moving fast when it comes to digital innovation. Today’s great tech trend can quickly become yesterday’s Myspace before tomorrow’s next Snapchat arrives. Keeping up with these changes can be mind-boggling. As futurist Gerd Leonhard said concerning digital technology, “The next 20 years are likely to bring more changes to humanity than the past 300 years.”
One of the biggest changes is hyper-personalization, a natural evolution spurred by a consumer base that increasingly expects personalization during the buyer’s journey. Why this expectation? Breathtaking advances in tech have placed brands in direct contact with the consumer; because of this closeness, we now demand more out of brands. We no longer just want a product or service; we want interactive experiences that are tailored and unique. Just imagine what that will mean for marketers five to ten years from now.
Hyper-personalization takes personalized experiences a step further by leveraging online data paired with predictive tech to deliver targeted products, services, and content. Interested in understanding more about a near future that's here now and already benefiting brand experiences? Buckle your seat belts, and let’s find out more about hyper-personalization:
The four elements of hyper-personalization
Accurate: As mentioned, brands and audiences are more connected than ever. This means companies have the ability to collect treasure troves of precise data about their stakeholders.
What the future holds: Gathering, storing, and processing accurate and actionable data will be easier than ever with the rise of cloud computing and big data analytics.
Relevant: Data should be used to target the right audiences with customized messaging, offers, or suggestions. A current example is the perennial “You Might Like” feature found on video streaming sites, e-commerce pages, or at the bottom of online articles.
What the future holds: Not only will the offers be customized, so will the way you pay. As an example, a “buy now/pay later” option could be tailored exclusively for students. Online coupons will also be calibrated depending on a buyer’s profile.
Real time: Audience attention spans are shrinking just as the demand for service grows. Waiting is a thing of the past when you can have a Lyft waiting at your doorstep by the time you walk out the door. Hyper-personalization is always in the now; it's immediate. Companies like GrubHub or Amazon will email custom offers as soon as a purchase is completed. Starbucks or CVS might send a survey not long after you’ve left their stores.
What the future holds: It’s hard to beat Amazon’s 2-Hour Delivery when it comes to getting close to real-time online shopping, but with the advent of 3D printing, you’ll be able to get basic products minutes after your purchase. And it goes beyond “basic” products; right now there are 3D printers that can literally create a house in less than 24 hours!
Contextualized: This might be the most crucial element of hyper-personalization. It’s where personalization meets real-time artificial intelligence, where you become totally unique to a brand. An apt illustration of this contextualization is Google Maps. Based on your driving history and current location, Google Maps knows if you’re about to leave home or work — and notifies you how long it will take you to get to your next destination — often proactively making these predictions based on your past behavior and alerting you of accidents or traffic jams along your route. Your location, time, and surroundings are all delivered to your smartphone in real-time context by behavioral intelligence algorithms.
What the future holds: Artificial intelligence engines, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, will continue to rapidly evolve into invaluable personal assistants, offering solutions for your day’s tasks and challenges.
Keeping it personal but private
When the four elements of hyper-personalization work together, it’s like a two-way, mutually beneficial Jedi mind control trick between brand and customer. To some, however, hyper-personalization might sound awfully close to Minority Report. But it’s not. When it comes to the location-based and predictive technologies (such as the ones mentioned below in brand experiences), opting in is always a choice — very much like companies asking for permission to use your current location on an app. Also, you can populate your digital profile as much or as little as you want. It’s all voluntary.
Brands certainly want more information about their stakeholders for market research purposes and will often offer access to more exclusive personalized services in order to get it. Getting to know your customers intimately to deliver sterling service is a marketing tale as old as time, but it has become significantly accelerated in the digital revolution. And remember, the successful companies of the future will be completely transparent and honest about why they need your personal information and what they will provide for you, in return, when you share it. In this realm, information is quickly becoming the most valuable currency in today’s evolving business landscape.
Back to the brand experience future
Hyper-personalization is already providing a significant benefit for the events industry and brand experiences. For instance, beacon-enabled technology platforms can alert audiences using a mobile event app of relevant sessions or vendor booths that match interests in their digital profiles. The tech provides accurate, relevant, real-time information in a highly contextualized format. Hyper-personalization, with the right mix of location-based tech and software, can also enhance digital signage, giving organizers the ability to broadcast pertinent information to passing attendees during an exhibition.
Beacon technology will soon evolve into face and voice recognition tech, super-charging virtual wallets, interactive touch screens, smart holograms, and 3D printers — and they will make the attendee/exhibitor exchange seamless. Regardless of how busy an exhibition is, you’ll be able to get products, product demos, or collateral as soon as you arrive at a booth of interest. What’s more, many booths will be fully automated with the help of artificial intelligence, allowing vendors to engage more personally with their “pre-qualified” customers.
The notion of human interaction is very important to understand. One of the promises of the digital revolution is to facilitate physical interactions. Online companies like Airbnb, Facebook, and Uber actually help people connect in the real world, faster and with less hassle. Within the event industry, beacon-enabled technology paired with the right intelligence can connect attendees with like-minded peers during an event — contact information and other collateral swapped instantly and digitally — leaving more time to focus on networking.
Hyper-personalization will work exceedingly well with other landmark technologies entering the brand experience category. Take, for instance, virtual reality — where audiences can digitally and interactively travel to showroom sites, product demos, or brand tours. Imagine an attendee wearing a VR headset with hyper-personalizing tools becoming immersed in a tour specifically designed for his or her demographic, buying history, or personal taste. With augmented reality, attendees won’t hunt for Pokémon but instead will be able to choose virtual brand tour guides or assistants during events. The virtual “sky’s the limit” when it comes to delivering these unique experiences audiences crave.
Just old-school marketing
If the idea of hyper-personalization seems too exotic, remember that it follows an important rule of the digital transformation age: digital technology may give us the answers, but humans still ask the questions. Innovative tech is an extension of ourselves and our desires. As always, brands are simply trying to understand who we are and help to address our needs or desires. Therefore, the role of marketers will not change with hyper-personalization. Marketers will remain the agents of change who are there to broker that moment when human questions and tech answers meet — with the intention to create unforgettable experiences, meetings, and exhibitions.