Harnessing the Power of Personalization

Harnessing the Power of Personalization

By: Jean-Francois Bessiron, VP Goods International, Groupon [NASDAQ: GRPN]

Jean-Francois Bessiron, VP Goods International, Groupon [NASDAQ: GRPN]

From the moment you wake up and check your Apple or Android phone, you are bombarded with brands trying to get your attention.

It is estimated that the average person is exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads each day, but our brains filter out messages that are irrelevant to us, or the ones that are not something we are personally interested in. Getting lost in the noise, or worst still, alienating your potential customer is a real possibility.

Moving forward from a time when customers were just happy with mass email marketing campaigns, businesses must now leverage data to personalize their marketing efforts. Personalization is all about delivering greater relevance to customers and providing a richer experience by serving the right message on the right channel at the right time. When you are competing with thousands of brands every single day, personalization becomes absolutely crucial to avoid getting filtered out.

Consumers are now much more discerning when choosing brands they want to hear from. Mobile tech has a lot to do with setting expectations. Mobile phones have become an extension of ourselves as we feed them with a wealth of information, creating a highly detailed picture of our daily routines and preferences, and we carefully curate the products we have on them. So, when people receive unsuitable marketing offers or badly timed communications that do not seem in-sync with our lives, it grates all the more.

"Companies seem to be good at collecting data on customers but have not quite tackled how to operationalise that data and use it for the benefit of the customers"

For businesses to cut through the noise and really make an impact today, they need to stay a step ahead of the customer, not just in responding to their demands but in anticipating their needs beforehand and giving them an offer that they cannot refuse.

At Groupon, this idea underpins everything that we do. We use pinned maps, geo-targeting, AI, and trigger notifications so that consumers are served up with the very best deals relevant to them—whether that’s in terms of location or preference—at any time.

Consumers are a moving target and there is no ‘perfect state.’ Just when you think, you have tackled it, consumer trends will move on. Whilst personalization is a tricky business and we are still constantly iterating, we have learned a few things on the way:


Companies seem to be good at collecting data on customers but have not quite tackled how to operationalise that data and use it for the benefit of the customers.

Think about the data you have and how it could be used to engage customers and make their purchase journey easier.


The best way to target your key demographics is to create a number of personas that represent your core audience and “cluster” the personalization accordingly. This grouping of customers will also help you synchronize your overall brand marketing and merchandising campaigns.


At Groupon, we know that 80 percent of purchases are made via a mobile device. So, for us, we know that it’s an important way to reach our customer-base. Think about the channels you currently have and the channels that your target audience is using; hopefully these are the same!


True mass personalization means right time, right place, and right targeting. No matter how personalized your marketing is, if it reaches your consumer at the wrong time, they just would not respond to it.


In order for a customer to trade their personal data, the benefits have to outweigh the cost. We should always seek to understand what equates to value in your customers mind. We all know that oil is no longer the world’s most valuable asset, its data and the use of it comes with a responsibility. There is a fine line between personalization and encroaching on customers’ personal activities and information. Different audiences may have differing levels of understanding of what they think are acceptable. If customers do not see the inherent value for them, suddenly the juxtaposition between personalization and having their privacy undermined becomes a real concern.

Finally, it is worth noting some of the potential pitfalls. By showing your customers exactly what they want to see, it can be easy to lose sight of your brand. A great example of doing this right is in streaming services; here, the recommendations are targeted towards products or services that a company wants to push. They will always come up at the top, no matter what. Underneath that, they will recommend products or services they think you may like based on your previous history and under that, they group together by category. Your account profile is carefully curate to guide you to their best sellers, whilst still offering you a personalized experience. It provides layers of personalization and choice, meaning there will always be something that will suit you.

While a good level of personalization can increase your profit numbers, over-filtering can actually be detrimental to you business. The other danger of over-filtering is creating a homogenized offer that lacks choice and diversity. Narrowly tailoring options based on preferences can be restrictive, so it is good practice to offer a number of different levels-like the streaming service we talked about earlier. Ultimately, it is all about finding the sweet spot between providing personalized suggestions for consumers, without restricting or limiting their choices.

Businesses need to be clear on whom they are targeting, identify the best way to target each of those prospects, clinical in how they execute personalization, and willing to adapt to or seize fresh opportunities.

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