What’s the difference between personalisation and customisation?

customized marketing

As a consequence of the countless pieces of content that are being written and published on the Internet every day, brands and businesses can no longer afford to produce something ordinary or generic. Today’s online users know this and are becoming increasingly particular about the content they choose to view.

When typing in queries on a search engine or browsing social media activity, content consumers will be looking for something that stands out from the crowd or has a unique characteristic. To address this requirement, marketers have employed a number of different techniques and tactics in recent years, delivering varying degrees of success but offering no real guarantees.

However, it seems as though a sure fire way of catching the audience’s eye and keeping their attention is to create customised content, which also addresses their personal wants and needs. Although the concepts of personalisation and customisation have been well documented in marketing circles for quite some time, they are now becoming increasingly important due to Internet’s overcrowded nature and the specific desires of online users.

For some, these two terms are interchangeable and can be used to describe the same thing. But in many respects, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as personalisation and customisation serve two very distinctive purposes.

Defining personalisation

In terms of marketing, personalisation is when content is tailor-made with an audience segment or individual user’s characteristics or preferences in mind. This is typically based on previously collected or readily available data, such as website browsing behaviour and interests on social media.

By doing so, marketers have a better chance of meeting consumer needs more effectively and efficiently, as content will be written about particular subjects or with a certain tone of voice, published on appropriate platforms, and promoted through relevant channels. This also results in easier, faster and better interactions with online audiences, which can contribute to user satisfaction, strong relationships, and brand loyalty.

An everyday example of personalisation can be seen on Amazon. The king of online retail provides you with personalised recommendations based on recently viewed items, your browsing history and previous purchases. Along with encouraging users to buy more, it also gives account holders a useful and valuable resource, which will always come in handy.

Defining customisation

In contrast, customisation gives the user control over what they see or interact with online. Although brands and businesses will attempt to influence consumer decisions or try and encourage certain choices, customisation gives ultimate power to the end user.

While this audience empowerment can bring about numerous advantages for both parties, it also has the potential to be a curse as much as a blessing. With personalisation, marketers can recommended or endorse something they believe will be the right choice for the user based on proven facts and figures. But customisation could result in consumers making the wrong choice, as their actions are their own doing.

Take Apple for example. When you visit its online store to buy a new MacBook, you will be given the chance to customise your machine. Unfortunately, numerous consumers won’t know what size hard drive they require or whether upgrading the CPU is necessary. Therefore, brands must try to strike the right balance between personalisation and customisation.


Challenges associated with personalisation and customisation

Even though we believe our content creation service gives brands and consumers the best of both worlds, there are still challenges associated with personalisation and customisation. The biggest of all relates to data and whether or not people are willing to give away personal details.

Thankfully, a study by the Direct Marketing Association revealed that consumer willingness to share data with brands has dramatically increased over the past few years. In a survey of 1,193 UK adults, over 50 per cent were happy to provide basic information about themselves, which included their name, address, and email to receive marketing materials.

Despite the fact there has been high profile news stories about global surveillance, consumer confidence in sharing data has been buoyed by the increased transparency of privacy policies and improving practices to secure trust according to data provider Equifax.

One specific example is Unilever, which has updated its privacy policy to make customers aware of what their data is being used for. If more companies were to do this, 43 per cent of people would be happy to share personal details.