The four pillars for effective personalisation


Advances in technology and data analytics have given organisations the ability to track and respond to a customer’s digital interests and utilise this customer insight to make suggestions or highlight certain items and content, known as personalisation. Many websites help customers make choices by organising information and prioritising it based upon the individual's interests. Personalisation is fast becoming the front and centre focus for B2C digital marketers. Many larger online retail organisations such as ASOS, Google and Amazon are already incredibly adept at personalised marketing and have built a large following of loyal customers as a result.

But personalisation is not just a possibility for large B2C companies – smaller companies without the in-house technical resource to build their own solutions can access the same capabilities as provided by Google and Apple for their own products. And increasingly B2B marketers are turning to personalisation to provide content that is specifically geared towards individual buyers.

For smaller organisations looking to engage in personalised marketing, simply purchasing analytics software is likely to be ineffective without having the building blocks in place to help identity and understand who your customers are in the first place.

Getting the right building blocks in place before embarking on a personalisation strategy is crucial. There are four clear pillars for effective personalisation:


Today consumers access digital content via numerous different devices from mobile phones to tablets and laptops, each with its own IP address. It is therefore increasingly difficult to track individual consumers across different devices. To be able to engage in personalised marketing to an individual, organisations must be certain who that customer is and be able to identify them each time they access your services even if that access comes across multiple devices.

The most effective method of doing this comes from identity-based permissions management where the user of an online service (or variety of online services) accesses cloud and corporate applications using a single identity. This provides businesses and organisations the ability to offer both their internal and external users a single point of access with which they are able to access a variety of online services using the same credentials.

Popular online services such as Google ID or Facebook Login have changed expectations regarding the ease with which a user now expects to be able to access multiple software applications. Whether it be a web, mobile, or desktop application, users now expect to gain access using a single set of credentials.

Access Management

For organisations selling digital content or services, you need to make sure that consumers only have access to what they have paid for. A simple username and password combination is fairly easy to share between friends if everyone wants to watch a movie. But when these credentials are paired with a device IP address assigned to a particular individual, circumventing content access restrictions becomes more difficult. An effective, identity-based licensing solution can help ensure the accurate match between what customers are entitled to and what they actually receive.

The same need applies for organisations that offer corporate licenses for their services. For example, an online publisher may provide a large corporation and its employees access to its content. The technology needs to be able to understand corporate licensing structures and allow the agreed access rights to a large group of people, which creates additional complexity. Such structures are supported by identity-based licensing services which can reflect the relationships between individuals, the business units and companies they work in and the products that they have permission to use, read or view.

Analytics and the ability to act on the data you’re gathering

Data analytics technology is now well established and can help organisations to easily access and analyse customer information such as which services they are using and when. With this information, organisations are then in a position to target customers more effectively.

But where does this data come from in the first place? For digital content providers who have an effective identity and access management solution in place, the data they are able to gather about individual customers and their online preferences then gives the ability to offer much more granular and targeted subscription packages to suit a customer’s needs. For other organisations this could mean more targeted advertising or cross-selling of services, or provide insight that highlights the need to change or amend your product package.

Identity and access management enable organisations to collect crucial information about the customer which can then be fed back into the personalisation process to further refine product offerings at an individual level.

Selecting the right technology

In the world of single-sign on, permissions and online product licensing there are many vendors of off-the-shelf solutions and it is often difficult to make sense of the various offerings. Off-the-shelf products are often restrictive and designed with a very particular business case in mind. However, it is your business case and not the business case of the particular product that needs to be forefront in your mind during procurement. A solution should be able to support your business case, integrate with existing systems, and be standard-based, extensible and scalable.

The ability to identify your customer each time they access your services and ensure that they have access to the content and services that they are entitled to is a critical pillar for effective personalisation and underpins any personalisation strategy. Attempts at personalisation will fail if organisations do not have this in place from the start.

Neil Fenton, Chairman, 10Duke