personalization pitfalls

Business success depends on customers having great experiences. What makes a customer experience great? The answer is simple. You need to treat the customer as a unique, important, valuable person. People want to be remembered, understood, supported and even surprised and delighted – not treated like a everybody else. Companies who put these rules into practice can vastly outperform their competition.

Over the past 6 years, I’ve talked with leaders of retailers, banks, travel companies, insurance companies, and technology companies, and none of them needs convincing of this. Everyone agrees that personalized experiences are critical, but many believe that it is too hard to do in the digital world.

As a result, here are the three most common personalization pitfalls. Learn from these mistakes!

Miss Obvious Cues to Personalize

The first and most common way to get personalization wrong is not to personalize. In some instances, it’s very clear what your customer is looking for, and not personalizing could result in a lost conversion.

For example, I use the same bank for my personal checking, savings account, and home mortgage. Recently, I was interested in refinancing my mortgage. I went to the bank’s website over the course of two weekends looking at rates and engaging with the refinance calculator. By this point, it should have been clear by my behavior that I was interested in refinancing, yet the bank’s site did nothing about it. I am regularly on the website paying bills and managing my account, but there was no mention of my interest in refinancing, and no targeted offers to me. I ended up refinancing with another bank.

Rely Solely on the Wisdom of the Crowd

The second personalization mistake is to make recommendations to me based only on what’s popular to a broader audience.

Imagine that you and I are both looking at trellises for a garden. A “wisdom of the crowd” personalization solution would suggest a bunch of tomato-related trellises to both of us, because most people looking at trellises buy tomato plants. That might work for me, but during your three minutes on the site you’ve been looking at cucumber pickling jars and articles about cucumber growing. You have shown no interest in tomatoes, but you clearly are interested in cucumbers, so recommendations for cucumber trellises would be far more effective.

Not personalizing recommendations to the individual’s preferences is a missed opportunity for a conversion. Even if you ignored the default recommendations and you end up buying a cucumber trellis, you will have done so only after hunting around for the right one. This results in a frustrating customer experience and a missed chance to add value.

Use the Wrong Data to Discover Intent

The last mistake is to not take into account all the data you need to truly uncover an individual’s intent on your site.

Every behavioral tracking solution on the market tracks clicks. This is a great start to understanding what a visitor is interested in, but it’s an incomplete start. Let’s say you are a CMO visiting a tech company’s site looking to learn more about its solutions. You see that it solves for different use cases, let’s call them use case A and B. You click on A. With a quick 3-second skim of the page you realize that A is not for you. So you click on B next and discover that B fits your situation well. You spend two minutes on that page, scrolling and reading about B.

The mistake comes in when the site, blind to your true interest because of limited behavioral tracking, assumes that you are equally interested in A and B. It encourages you to sign up for a demo with a focus on A and it emails you about A as well.

Instead of associating the tech company with your interest (B), it has diffused and confused the message. Hopefully, you are able to push through the clutter and noise and buy anyway. Most likely you will go somewhere else that seems to be a better fit.

How to Avoid These Personalization Pitfalls

Evergage helps you overcome these personalization pitfalls with The Power of 1. By incorporating all data for each visitor from their current and past sessions (tracking genuine engagement not just clicks) and rendering a personalized experience in milliseconds, marketers can be assured that they aren’t missing obvious cues to personalize, that they aren’t solely relying on the wisdom of the crowd while ignoring individual preferences, and that they are incorporating the right data to fully understand the intent each visitor on their sites.

Because Evergage personalization campaigns can be set up quickly by a marketer without the need for IT, there’s no excuse for missing great opportunities to personalize and increase customer engagement, conversions and loyalty.

For more insight into current personalization trends, check out my interview with Neil Hughes on

And to learn more about how to use personalization during the holiday season to improve the shopping experience, facilitate product discovery, and more, sign up for our upcoming webinar on Aug 31.