The Evolution of Personalisation
The Evolution of Personalisation

The Evolution of Personalisation

Category: Blogs
Personalised coca-cola bottles

Back before marketers had Intilery, before Big Data, and even (gasp) before the internet, there was a time when customers could expect to receive a personal service whatever business they dealt with.

Then came the chain stores, the supermarkets and the identical high streets, and for a while, society shunned personal interaction in favour of cheap prices, recognisable brands and a one-size-fits-all service offering.

Now, thanks to technology, personal service can be facilitated virtually and is back, at speed and ways never been seen before, offering a one-to-one service but on a mass scale.

So how did we get here?

The Good Old Days

Once upon a time, a visit to the bank meant a sit-down meeting with your bank manager, not a trip to an ATM, and instead of a drive to Tesco, shopping was a trip to the butcher and the greengrocer. Customers had a relationship with their businesses of choice – the proprietor knew their name, their preferences, their habits – so the service they received was personal and convenient, and they kept coming back.

The Rise of the Chain Store

At the start of the 20th century, competition for independent stores started to arise in the form of chain grocers. They stocked a wider variety of product types. Attracted by the convenience of only having to visit one shop, instead of many, customers started to migrate across. The comparative size of these shops, and the number of customers they had meant that interactions became increasingly less personal – and shoppers didn’t seem to mind.

Database Marketing – the Birth of the Mail Merge

The lack of relationships between businesses and consumers had caused an unprecedented lack of loyalty. Prices dropped and consumer wallets became stuffed with vouchers as businesses tried to keep their customers from defecting to their competitors. Relationship marketing became big news again.

The shift towards relationship-centric marketing coincided with a change in the technology landscape that led to the growth of database marketing. For the first time, companies were able to record details on customers and send them communications personalised with their names, locations or whatever other information businesses were able to gather.


At the very end of the 20th century commerce came to the internet. By 2010 the UK had the biggest ecommerce market in the world (the Guardian, 2010). With consumers completing everyday transactions online, more and more data could be collected about them, their preferences and their behaviour. Not only did this open up many more possibilities for contacting customers, but the number of ways in which experiences could be tailored for customers started to increase.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Developing from database technology in the 80’s, into Sales Force Automation in the 90’s, CRM software combined allowed businesses to automate their database marketing. Personalised marketing messages could be achieved with less effort than ever before, allowing relationship-centric marketing to thrive. For the first time, businesses were able to conduct personalised marketing at scale – at least as far as direct marketing was concerned.

Customer Experience Management (CEM)

With so many competing businesses in a marketplace, providing a great customer experience is an increasingly important way to differentiate yourself. Whilst creating personalised communications based on behavioural data gets you so far, relying on CRM leaves large parts of the customer journey as impersonal, cookie-cutter experiences.

Customer Experience Management, or CEM, is the natural progression of technology-enabled personalisation. Using technology like Intilery provides marketers with the ability to personalise entire customer journeys, across all channels. Your website, your app, your emails – all channels can be monitored to automatically recognise individual customers or visitors and give them a one-to-one experience that encourages loyalty.

CEM collects data from all connected on and off-line channels into a Single Customer View (SCV), including ibeacons used in store, and interrogates it to present the user with a brand consistent, seamless experience. All intelligent personal communications can be set up to trigger automatically based on specific behaviours and actions, so every touchpoint is a truly personal experience. Envisage the personal approach of the traditional local shopkeeper, but with the brain of a computer and millions of customers – thanks to CEM, that’s what personalisation looks like now.

Find out more about Intilery’s Customer Engagement Management technology or request a demo.

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