Anyone who’s watched Grease will know that Grease Lightning was one engine that powered through its competition. Now, marketers have the opportunity to hitch a ride with an equally game-changing piece of tech, often known as a personalisation engine.

In short, personalisation engines are nifty pieces of data science that use a unique combination of algorithms to come up with personalised recommendations for your customers. They can sift through any customer data from behavioural (i.e. online browsing, social media, transactional) to demographics to declared (e.g. surveys) to build a full yet nuanced picture of each and every customer.

The true power however, doesn’t just lie in the products they can recommend in the here and now. Personalisation engines can help you predict the future.

Of course, any marketer worth their salt knows that the mainstay of all good marketing is targeting consumers with the right message at the right time and in the right medium. However, many are still falling down and failing their customers by offering poorly timed and irrelevant communications. Personalisation engines make laughably light work of this, making it inexcusable to provide consumers with anything less than a perfectly timed and tailored message.

Some marketers may simply drive past a personalisation engine, thinking it is reserved only for large businesses. They may be pleasantly surprised then, to discover that as long as you have enough previous transactional data, along with other rich customer datasets a personalisation engine can run for you.

Data on current retail trends, along with top search keywords , can also be used to add fuel to your engine.

Like Grease Lightning, personalisation engines also feature a few tricks under their bonnet. Where personalisation engines really come into their own are when they predict purchases that neither the retailer, nor consumer, expected but are delighted by. A good example of this would be if I were looking at purchasing a new computer. It would be easy to suggest I should also get some anti-virus and other software to go with it. Where the personalisation engine would really show its skill is if it discovered that females of my age range and browsing habits would also be likely to buy a sleek new desk to go with it.

The engine could go also go a step further by looking at my overall purchase and browsing behaviour, determining not only what my needs are, but also what I want, what I aspire to have and what my interests are. Through looking at my social media data, along with the blogs that I read regularly, and all the devices I’ve previously bought, the personalisation engine could work out that I really enjoy amateur photography. The engine could use this information to recommend new cameras and accessories to go with my brand new computer.

Taking this off our screens onto our shopfloors, I may e decide to browse for computers online, but have a look at the computers in store before I make my decision. You could use this information, along with the personalisation engine and location data, to offer me incentives and recommendations as I walk through your shop’s doors, thereby tempting me towards your computers and not your competitors’.

As well as in-store and on your website, the recommendations given by personalisation engines can easily be placed into email, SMS and other marketing channels. This allows you to ensure your customers are not only getting the right products promoted to them at the right time, but also through the right medium.

This type of ultra-tailored, super personal marketing goes further than just selling products. If I receive messaging that is useful to me at a time that I need, along with recommendations for products that I never considered before but are actually perfect for my needs, I’m going to feel like the business who sent me that message truly understands me. I’m therefore more likely to return to that business time and time again. Such customer loyalty is the stuff of dreams for all marketers.

Personalisation engines may not yet be well known in marketing circles, but fast forward a few years and they’ll be as desired as the latest Ferrari. It’s worth getting revved up about personalisation engines now, before every other marketer leaves you in their smoke.

By Yariella Coello, head of consultancy at Profusion

You can find Yariella's presentation on using data science effectively in the Content Theatre at 11pm at Integrated Live on 17th November, but you'll have to register for your free ticket first:

Eventbrite - Integrated Live

Originally posted on Digital Marketing Magazine