Customization and personalization: which is which?

March 5, 2013

By: Emily
Recent innovation in communication strategies has enabled marketers to interact with consumers in a more direct and interactive way. Personalized messaging and customized Web content are now considered some of the most effective one-to-one marketing strategies, increasing customer satisfaction and retention. This calls into question the difference between personalization and customization. Which is which? And why use them? Let's break it down.
Personalization is the process of tailoring content to a customer's preferences based on previous behavioral data. Web personalization allows a company to deliver unique content to each customer based on the individual's interests, giving the customer the opportunity to feel that the content was produced exclusively for him or her. The benefits of Web personalization occur when the customer experiences the “aha!” moment, when the content resonates with the customer, who thus becomes an advocate for the brand.
It is important to recognize customization as an entirely different entity than personalization. Customization allows for explicit user control, where customers can alter settings to create an environment all their own. At the feature level, the user can choose the information elements that are presented on places such as a homepage or log-in page. Customization requires proactivity from users. The benefit of customization is greater customer satisfaction.
Customization is explicit, but personalization is implicit. My Yahoo is an example of customization, where the user tells the site what he or she wants. is an example of personalization, where the site interprets the user's interests and adapts to his or her needs. The most important takeaway here is, whichever strategy you choose, the key to great marketing is to have an in-depth understanding of your customers and what they want. Optimum customer satisfaction is the recipe for lasting customer relationships.

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