Segmentation And Automation Are The Antidote To 'Spray And Pray'

As I receive another email from a trendy Millennials' fashion brand that makes overpriced clothes I could have fitted into twenty years ago, I find myself asking why some brands you would presume would know better have not moved beyond "batch and despatch"? Then another part of me can't help think that ultimately, the peak or personalisation can surely never be reached, so should brands even bother?

As such a blog over the weekend on whether personalisation is truly possible resonated with me. In the case of the trendy clothes brand, by the way, the label that is worn by Millennial pop stars failed to even try to segment me in any way. Even Interflora flowers asks with every order what the purpose is for -- an anniversary, a birthday? That way they not only get to know more about me, but also my important dates. In the case of the fancy fashion brand, they'd probably have picked up that I was a gifter and September (birthday) and December (Christmas) are the main times to tempt me to make a purchase. Every other fortnightly or monthly email is just noise.

It makes you wonder, though, that if this is one extreme, is personalisation really possible? Okay, so knowing my name is the bare minimum here. It's where a lot of companies don't even bother, and if they do, it's often where they walk away from personalisation, thinking their job is done.

Next has to come segmentation, based around the info I offer a brand, such as demographic details. Add to that some automated campaigns based around my purchase behaviour and that's probably about as close as we can get to personalisation, isn't it?  

So, is the answer segmentation followed by a dash of automation, emails triggered by events such as a purchase, an anniversary coming up, a thank you or a "would you like to upgrade your purchase of x"-type emails.

I'm not saying that getting as near as you can to personalisation isn't a noble goal, it's just that the word personal kind of assumes as one-on-one conversation, doesn't it? Is that ever going to be possible? Or, put it another way, wouldn't it seem a little spooky?

For me, personalisation is best served by remembering that one-on-one is an unlikely final destination, but at the same time, "spray and pray" is most definitely a starting point that companies need to get away from.

Segmenting for regular-batch emails and using automation for triggered events has to be about as close as a brand can get to personalisation without crossing the line between serving the customers and spooking them out, just a little, doesn't it?

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