Let’s immediately consider the following two scenarios.
“Well, hello there! We just want to congratulate you on your new job and a rather impressive rise in salary! Perhaps you and your husband could do with another look at the portfolio you have with us?”
The year is 2025. An office worker is interrupted mid-email to the sound of a light tapping. After first looking to her iPhone XII she realises the sound comes from the grime-covered window. (The window has not been opened for a while as there was no need to see outside thanks to the virtual reality wall the company put in five months ago). Unable to see past the grime on the pane, she manages to shove the window open. She is confronted with a small drone hovering just outside which is holding a glittery package.
“Amazon delivery!” The drone chirrups.
The office worker rubs her eyes, it sure is bright out. “But I haven’t…I haven’t ordered anything.”
“You don’t have to! Since you signed up to FutureNowTM we know what you want…even before you do!”
The drone drops a glittery parcel onto the sill and buzzes off happily.
Admittedly, we can’t see the personalisation of online marketing getting quite this intimate but you never know.
Just last month, Marketing Tech News wrote about the risks of brands going too far with personalisation, coming off as creepy rather than helpful. A survey called Creepy or Cool by personalisation specialists RichRelevance asked UK consumers to rate digital shopping experiences. Helpful experiences in a shopping centre included a personalised map which showed customers the smoothest routes to stores they would want to visit. But cool crept into creepy when customers were asked how they might respond to being greeted by name upon walking into a store.
Facial recognition to aid personalised services is clearly one step too far, despite the fact a person’s digital footprint – such as their emails and internet search history, hold just as much if not more personal information. This is almost certainly partly down to facial recognition technology being more tangible to the public than, say, cookies on a website.
Personalisation in finance
Age played an important factor in the study, with half of all under 30s happy with advanced personalisation compared to only a quarter of over 45s. It is not surprising that millennials and younger people aren’t as fussed about personalisation, and perhaps the next stage for brands wanting to go further with personalisation is to begin by tailoring these types of experiences by age. Shopping centres are a very obvious place to start this sort of experimentation, but we could also see this roll out to high street banks and the wider financial sector.
Personalisation is already under way in a very basic form on banking websites, where you can select a different tab and landing page according to whether you are using it personally or professionally. A very simple practice of good personalisation, which is not used often enough, is frequently reviewing your email marketing subscription lists and deleting those who haven’t opened your emails in over six months.
Are VR and facial recognition the future of personalised banking?
Personalisation of course, comes with increased security risk. With high profile data breaches such as the Ashley Madison hack on the rise, the financial sector should step carefully into a personalised future. That’s why championing and sharing advances in tech for security could do banking a lot of favours. Customers would probably welcome personalised tips and help with making themselves more secure. Natwest, for example, already urges customers to download security software and warns you if unusual activity happens on your account – but what if it did more? Instead of prompting customers to use passwords they are likely to store in insecure places and forget, why not give them all a virtual reality headset with voice and facial recognition software? On entry to your virtual bank, you might be asked a special security question, and then you’d virtually handle your cash from your very own online vault. Picture a fantastical mash up between Harry Potter’s Gringotts and the ‘90s show Crystal Maze. Sound ridiculous? Perhaps. But if there was a way to make this affordable, it might not be that far off. In the future, facial recognition used with your consent, might not be creepy and could, when used in tandem with other security measures, replace passwords altogether.
Three top tips on personalisation brands can implement immediately
There are plenty of things brands can do immediately to improve the digital experience for their customers that do not involve dreaming about Harry Potter. We have outlined three of the main ones below:
- Talk plainly about your data mining
- Loving someone is letting them go We’ve referenced the importance of not irritating your customers by repeatedly sending emails that your analytics tell you aren’t actually being read or have never been opened. Do your customers a favour and let them know you’ll stop sending emails unless they’re still happy to receive them. If you once again receive a stone wall of silence, you need to read that response as an unsubscribe request. Take them off your mailing list. Like a jilted lover, it might be hard to move on, but at least you’ll be safe in the knowledge that a) you’re not paying to be ignored anymore b) your name doesn’t become synonymous with spam.
- Look into the future Marketers regularly use the SWOT test to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. But when it comes to digital and online experiences, identification of weaknesses appears to be lacking. Last month, health insurer Vitality hit the headlines for advertising a fitness app owned by Facebook. The app’s connection to Facebook was not made explicit enough, privacy campaigners said. The Facebook connection and connotations of throw up wider and oft-referenced problems with data mining. Who owns the data, where is it, how safe is it and will it always be in the same place? As the finance sector continues to eye up personalisation, SWOT analysis needs to include technology not yet invented. To do that, we’d wholeheartedly recommend coming up with silly ideas like a virtual vault from time to time. Because one day, when that silly idea becomes a reality – your customer’s data will be safer.