The Challenge: Customer-driven personalization is a powerful competitive differentiator, and marketers should take note of how Pinterest provides this.
True personalization is complex to achieve and requires a deep database of individual's opt-in preferences. However, the results are powerful.
Personalization is an Expectation:
Online shoppers view personalization as a requirement for their preferred shopping venues, rather than as simply a perk. Per our Voice of Customer research:
- Many BtoB decision makers use Amazon as their point of reference regarding expectations for BtoB personalization.
- Both BtoB and BtoC marketers have to at least match the Amazon level of personalization!
Pinterest has a fascinating approach to personalization -- Pinterest doesn't take on the hard work of personalizing the experience, it enables the consumer to personalize their experience.
Per a recent article in TechCrunch:
"Pinterest is becoming the web's personalized mail-order catalog. Each user is presented with a one-of-a-kind visual interface based on their tastes. They are presented with any product, from any retailer, anywhere in the world. The items they see are curated through people and topics they've identified as interesting and what is shown to them improves the more they interact with it. Every time they pin, re-pin, like, or comment on an object, the relevancy of the products displayed on their magic catalog improves."
Pinterest lets the consumer do the work by allowing them to decide whose tastes they would like to follow. It is curated by the consumer so the consumer likes what they see. And if they like the products, they will buy them.
Per a recent article from Fortune:
"In March the site registered 17.8 million users, according to Comscore, a 52 percent jump in just one month... Brands -- from large companies like Gap and West Elm -- are tripping over themselves to establish a presence on it, and some are starting to reap the rewards of being "pinned," a referral that prompts followers to click on product pictures to learn more. In February, Pinterest drove more traffic to websites than Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined."
We will keep an eye on this company and track how they evolve to the next level of personalization.
Three Key Takeaways for Marketers:
1. Determine the type of personalization experience you want to/are able to, offer: Deep preference-driven personalization, like the Microsoft example above, or, like Pinterest, avoid some of the hard work of personalization and enable the consumer to personalize their experience.
2. Make your value proposition so appealing that consumers will come to your site, (repeatedly) and engage with others in the community by posting and consuming appealing content.
3. If you are offering a service based on personalized engagement, don't restrict how people can engage with you. I could not sign up for Pinterest without connecting via Facebook or Twitter. They would not let me sign up via email. It is inconsistent with a positive customer experience to block enrollment via email.
Also, need to respond to questions in a timely manner. I, along with a colleague, sent questions to their support email address requesting to join via email. One week later, we still await a response.
Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.
Ernan was recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.
Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Ernan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine. His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.
Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."