With the smell of coffee and breakfast filling the air, an eager early audience recently took to their seats for the latest event in our 101 event series, Personalisation 101. With standing room only, marketers arrived to hear from the likes of Barclays, Siemens, EchoMany and Idomoo.

If the 8.30am start on a wet Wednesday morning was too much to handle, then fear not. Not only did we capture the entire event on Facebook Live, we’ve also jotted down a list of key things we learned from the event.

“Dear sir or madam” doesn’t quite cut the mustard
To kick off proceedings our Senior Research & Insight Director, Paul Greenwood and Senior Media Manager, Conor Lynch outlined the expectation versus reality of personalised campaigns.

Although the idea of personalisation has been around for a long time (think bespoke tailoring) as an industry, we are still a long way off from getting it exactly right. Brands such as Nectar, Thread and Starbucks have been specifically targeting customers with bespoke offers and shopping suggestions for a while, but these attempts have so far been a tad generic, especially on social.

Data is the key ingredient
Specific personalisation only works with the data that customers are willing to offer to brands which, owing to privacy concerns, isn't always a lot. So it’s important for brands to remember that the data that they already own is incredibly valuable. As Conor commented “The key to becoming more personalised is utilising your own first party customer data”. Plugging this information into social ad platforms allows you to target specific users, and gives brands the opportunity to develop personalised messages for an audience they already know well.

Some companies are fortunate to have access to a wealth of customer data which makes personalisation easier to control. Our first guest speaker, Sandra White, Head of Personalisation from Barclays, recognised this, stating “we know our customers better than their own mothers”. She went on to highlight the importance of simply acknowledging basic customer questions and using these to create more relevant content.

But... don’t trust the data
Our next speaker, Pauliina Jamsa, Global Senior Online Marketing Manager at Siemens, pointed out that we have to be wary of the accuracy of some forms of data. For example people don’t always give an accurate and honest representation of themselves on social media - they often show how they want to be perceived, rather than their true selves. Pauliina said that she believed data and information gathered from our mobiles was more accurate, stating that “mobiles go everywhere with us and what we do is more accurate than what we post”.

A rewarding experience
It’s essential that we as marketers remember how valued personalisation can make a customer feel, an area that co-founder of EchoMany, Tim Redgate, would “echo” in his presentation. He said that brands shouldn't forget to respond to good customer feedback, and highlighted some brilliantly effective examples where customers would receive an “accolade tweet” (usually in the form of a video) for a praiseworthy response to a product or service. A bespoke response would encourage engagement, retweets galore and return business. A good learning for those working in community management.

With some superb case studies from Tesco Clubcard, Barclays and O2, Dotan Ginsbourg, General Manager at idomoo, reinforced the above points. He also reminded us that no matter how brilliant a personalised idea might be we need to always consider how the idea will deliver those all important business results. But those who get both the creative and the targeting right, could see great commercial value for their brand.

If you’re still waking up to the fact that you missed this, don’t panic too much, you can still watch the event back on our Facebook page. And keep an eye on our blog for upcoming events...