Traditional personalization strategies won’t cut it anymore. We live in an ‘always-on’ world where consumers now have more options, more choices and more power in the purchase process, forcing a seismic shift in the way brands approach customer engagement. Consumers are increasingly relying on their mobile devices for instantly gratifying their need for information and decision making. Only brands that act with the pace of consumers (think anywhere, anytime, any device) will win out in the ‘Experience’ battlefield.Personalization: Time For a Reality Check?Despite its widespread usage, there is a distinct gap between the level of personalization that customers expect and the what brands are actually delivering. Currently, while two-thirds of marketers rate their efforts at personalization as “very good” or “excellent,” less than one-third of consumers say companies are consistently delivering personalized experiences. One of the factors why companies still fall short of meeting the needs of their customers is because they are still stuck on the basics. Forrester Research found that although 91% of marketers prioritized personalization, many were still relying on basic segmentation to do so. When asked about the types of data used for personalization purposes in a study by Evergage, marketers cited beginner metrics, such as email address (57%), name (45%) and demographics (40%).Peter Gentsch, in his presentation on Marketing Intelligence Day, Berlin, gave an example of two men who share quite a bit of demographic information and preferences:Two men – both were born in 1948, grew up in England, both have been married twice with two children. These men are wealthy and successful in business. They both spend their winter holidays in the Alps and love dogs.Based solely on this information, it is easy to assume that these men would have similar interests and would respond to similar messaging and promotions. Therefore, it would be appropriate to profile and engage with them similarly. What if you found out that the two men are Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and Ozzy Osbourne, heavy metal rocker and reality TV personality? They are poles apart in nearly every sense! Picturing this in a business context, solely focusing on demographics doesn’t give the full picture and impedes companies from engaging with customers in real-time. The shift towards Contextualization: Using Context to drive PersonalizationPersonalization is as much about the ‘right moment’ as it’s about the right person or content. Delivering experiences that are contextual and tailored to what’s transpiring in real time in customer’s lives is key – be it when they visit a physical location, a website or at any other touch point. Forrester, in a report titled ‘Advance To Next-Generation Personalization’, coined the term Contextualization, defined as: A tailored, adaptive, and sometimes predictive digital customer experience that takes personalization a step further by automating decision-making and adding in-the-momentdetails.Understanding ‘who’ is behind the purchase is a good way to get started with personalization. But, understanding What the customer did in the past and what’s happening with the customer right now is using personalization to its fullest extent. Personalization using factors such as current location, time of day, and even factors like weather can have a big impact on personalization and indicate a user’s current situation. Organizations can use this data to help predict what an individual may be trying to achieve at a given point in time. The impetus is on you knowing your customer as completely as you can. Creating a holistic view of the customer by pulling together data from disparate systems such as CRM/loyalty, purchase history/Point of Sale, etc. allows you to better target customers and personalize experiences. Stronger Together: Offline Personalization Matters Just as Much’Online’ has always claimed a higher ground when it comes to personalization – be it identifying a customer, knowing their location, looking at their purchase and browsing history before presenting them with custom recommendations and offers. In fact, Netflix has reported that more than 60% of its rentals stem from personalized recommendations based on characteristics of what the customer has watched previously, while 35% of Amazon’s sales originate from systems that suggest products an individual consumer might like, based on their purchases and preferences (Source). However, the offline channels fall short of matching up with their online counterparts. The TimeTrade State of Retail 2017 report found that US retail stores were missing out on $150 billion through a lack of in-store personalization. Imagine a scenario where Kim, a high-value customer who has loyalty reward points and she walks into a store. She remains anonymous until checkout, and if she doesn’t make a purchase, the store doesn’t even know she visited. It is a missed opportunity to offer a personalized experience.Considering 70% of shopper purchase decisions are made in store, brands are missing out on opportunities to connect with customers in those critical moments. Location-based mobile engagement provides the ability to connect with visitors in-the-moment and personalize interactions based on the context of each individual visitor.