There’s Value in Personalisation Fails

Discover how to leverage data responsibly to create a personalised customer experience that bridges the gap between customer desire and privacy concerns.
Salesforce Marketing Data Personalisation Pracedo Salesforce Consultancy Article

We all remember the powerful message in Apple’s “Privacy. That’s iPhone.” advertisement. It resonated deeply because it tapped into a fundamental concern: data privacy. While many found Apple’s stance on user control appealing, it highlights the complexities surrounding data.


The words “privacy” and “data” are undeniably intertwined, but their interpretations vary greatly depending on the individual. What constitutes “useful data” can differ based on the device, platform, or organisation collecting it. Similarly, what one person considers private information can be vastly different from another. This human tendency to hold nuanced perspectives extends to customer experience (CX) and personalisation.


Marketers overwhelmingly believe personalisation fosters stronger relationships, boosts satisfaction, and drives sales. On the other hand, customers also crave a personalised touch, with 90% finding it appealing and favouring brands that offer relevant recommendations. However, a key difference lies in what “personalisation” truly means to each side. While customers expect a tailored experience, they also prioritise the careful handling of their data, the very foundation for achieving that experience. This creates a significant “data chasm” – a gap in understanding – that businesses must bridge to achieve successful personalisation.


This article explores how to leverage Salesforce to create a winning personalisation strategy that fosters trust, increases customer satisfaction, and drives business growth, all while navigating the complexities of the personalisation data chasm.


These blind spots are the hidden weaknesses in your revenue tracking that can lead to missed opportunities, inaccurate forecasts, and ultimately, lost profits. They arise from a fundamental misunderstanding: effective revenue tracking goes beyond traditional metrics like conversion rates and average deal size.


Traditional metrics offer a snapshot, but they miss the nuances. Historical data can’t predict the dynamic nature of sales, where deals stall, prospects cool, and new opportunities emerge unexpectedly. High conversion rates fueled by low-quality leads create a disconnect between volume and actual revenue generation. Traditional metrics paint a one-dimensional picture, failing to illuminate the internal team dynamics, the health of individual deals, and potential roadblocks.


These blind spots create a false sense of security. Leaders believe everything is under control when, in reality, hidden weaknesses are slowly eroding their revenue potential.

Navigating the Personalisation Tightrope: Building Trust in a Data-Driven World

The “data chasm” creates a precarious tightrope walk for businesses seeking to personalise customer experience. On one side, customers desire a tailored journey filled with relevant recommendations and helpful interactions, while on the other, they unwaveringly need data privacy and control.

The “Privacy. That’s iPhone.” message resonated because it tapped into a genuine concern. However, simply brandishing a privacy shield isn’t enough. Overly broad privacy restrictions can backfire, hindering the ability to deliver the personalised experiences customers crave. Imagine a clothing store that can’t recommend new styles based on your past purchases or a travel website that can’t suggest destinations based on your interests. An effective personalisation strategy requires a nuanced approach, balancing privacy needs with the potential to create a more tailored and enjoyable customer journey.

This is where learning from others’ mistakes becomes crucial. Let’s examine a couple of cautionary tales that illustrate the potential pitfalls of personalisation gone wrong.

Learning from the Giants' Stumbles: Examples of Personalisation Gone Wrong

Here are a couple of cautionary tales illustrating the potential pitfalls:

  • Target’s Pregnancy Prediction Fiasco: In 2012, Target faced significant backlash for sending targeted coupons for baby products to a teenage girl based on her purchase history. This incident highlighted the dangers of overly aggressive personalisation that can be perceived as intrusive or even discriminatory.
  • Netflix’s Recommendation Blunder: In 2017, Netflix experimented with a recommendation system that suggested similar content based solely on viewing history. This resulted in “filter bubbles,” where users were only exposed to content confirming their preferences. This ultimately led to a decline in user engagement.

These examples demonstrate the high stakes of personalisation. Getting it wrong can damage customer trust, erode brand loyalty, and even lead to legal repercussions. However, within these failures lie valuable lessons that can guide your personalisation efforts:

  • Respecting User Privacy: Customers expect transparency and control over how their data is used. Personalisation must prioritise privacy concerns and offer clear opt-in and opt-out options.
  • Context is King: Effective personalisation goes beyond purchase history. It considers demographics, interests, and the specific context of interactions.
  • Focus on Value, Not Manipulation: Personalisation should create an experience that adds value to the customer journey, not simply push products.

Building Bridges, Not Walls: A Guide to Personalisation Success

The Road to Personalisation: Trust as the Foundation

We’ve established the “data chasm” – the gap between customer desire for personalisation and their concerns about data privacy. Now, let’s explore how to bridge this gap and build a path towards successful personalisation. The key ingredient? Trust.

  • Transparency is King: Customers appreciate knowing exactly what data is being collected, how it’s used, and who has access to it. Clear and concise privacy policies, readily accessible on your website and within your app, are essential. But transparency goes beyond words. Ensure your actions align with your policies.
  • Focus on Value, Not Intrusion: Personalised experiences shouldn’t feel intrusive. Instead, they should enhance the customer journey. This means offering relevant product recommendations, targeted email campaigns based on past behaviour, or providing self-service options tailored to a customer’s specific needs. Every interaction should add value and demonstrate your understanding of their unique preferences.
  • Empowerment Through Choice: Put your customers in control by offering clear opt-in and opt-out options for data collection and communication channels. Allow them to choose what information they share and how they want to be contacted. This empowers them and fosters trust in your data practices.
  • Context is Crucial: Effective personalisation goes beyond purchase history. Consider demographics, interests, current browsing behaviour, and even the channel a customer is interacting with (website, email, social media). Think of it as a multi-dimensional view that allows you to tailor experiences with greater nuance and relevance.
  • Building Trust Through Security: Robust security measures safeguard customer data and demonstrate your commitment to privacy. Regular security audits, data encryption practices, and employee training on data handling all contribute to building trust.

Salesforce: Your Partner in Building Bridges

Salesforce offers a comprehensive suite of tools to empower your journey across the data chasm:

  • Marketing Cloud: This all-in-one marketing automation platform seamlessly integrates with Marketing Cloud Personalization and Salesforce Customer 360. It allows you to execute sophisticated marketing campaigns across multiple channels (email, social media, mobile) while leveraging the rich customer insights gleaned from other Salesforce tools. Marketing Cloud provides powerful tools for creating personalised email campaigns, managing customer journeys, and measuring the effectiveness of your personalisation efforts.
  • Marketing Cloud Personalization: This powerful tool goes beyond basic segmentation, allowing you to create dynamic website and email experiences that adapt in real-time based on individual customer behaviour, preferences, and even real-time data like location. Imagine website product recommendations that adjust based on a customer’s browsing history or email offers tailored to their recent purchases. Marketing Cloud Personalization empowers you to deliver genuine hyper-personalised experiences that add significant value to the customer journey.
  • Salesforce Customer 360: Unify customer data across all touchpoints (marketing, sales, service), creating a single customer view. This holistic understanding allows for more relevant and impactful personalisation initiatives.
  • Salesforce Data Cloud: Data Cloud acts as your central hub for all customer data, breaking down silos and creating a single customer profile. Imagine a unified view that incorporates website behavior, purchase history, and support interactions – all in one place.
  • Salesforce Einstein: Leverage the power of AI to gain deeper insights from customer data. Einstein can predict customer behaviour and preferences, enabling you to anticipate needs and deliver real-time hyper-personalised experiences.
  • Consent Management Tools: Streamline customer consent collection and management. This simplifies compliance with data privacy regulations (like GDPR and CCPA) and empowers customers to control their data preferences. Customers can easily opt-in or opt-out of data collection and communication channels.

The Future of Personalisation: A Symbiotic Relationship

Personalisation can be a powerful tool for building stronger customer relationships, boosting satisfaction, and driving business growth. However, navigating the data chasm is essential for achieving success. By prioritising transparency, focusing on value, offering control, considering context, and implementing robust security measures, you can bridge the gap between customer desires and privacy concerns.

Even the most successful personalisation efforts will encounter stumbles. However, these failures are valuable learning opportunities. By studying missteps like Target’s pregnancy prediction fiasco or Netflix’s filter bubble, we can identify pitfalls and refine our strategies. Embrace both your own attempts and those of others, failures included. Analyse what went wrong, learn from the experience, and iterate for continuous improvement. This growth mindset fosters innovation and paves the way for truly successful personalisation that bridges the data chasm and builds trust with customers.

Remember, the goal isn’t to become “Big Brother,” but rather a trusted partner who understands and respects your customer’s unique needs. With Salesforce as your guide, you can build bridges, not walls, and unlock the full potential of personalisation in today’s data-driven world.

Picture of Bailey Green

Bailey Green

This article was written by Bailey Green, an expert in Data, AI and Marketing. Since joining the team in November 2021, Bailey has unfurled a vast canvas of knowledge and skill, particularly in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, where he has spent over seven years honing his craft. His tenure is marked by a profound commitment to excellence, primarily in the Financial Services industry, where he has led projects and teams with a visionary approach.

Bailey's journey through the realm of Salesforce consulting is not just a path walked; it's a trail blazed. With years of consulting experience under his belt, his strategic acumen and analytical prowess have been instrumental in driving business transformations across the board. Bailey's mastery over Salesforce solutions isn't confined to a single facet; it spans the entire lifecycle of customer engagement—from lead generation to customer retention. His strategies are not only innovative but impactful, fostering growth and enhancing sales processes for numerous enterprises.

His role as a Practice Director at Pracedo is a testament to his ability to inspire change and cultivate success through the effective use of Salesforce technologies.

At Pracedo, we’re not just Salesforce Consultants. We’re the driving force behind innovation, change, and visionary solutions dedicated to boosting revenue. Our mission is to redefine the customer journey by simplifying processes and helping people to work smarter, not harder. Our purpose is to create a lasting impact on people, organisations, and communities, all powered by the capabilities of Salesforce.

Our recent acquisition by Collabera Digital, marked a significant milestone in our journey of growth and innovation. This exciting new chapter promises to propel us forward in our mission to redefine excellence in the industry globally across the EMEA and APAC regions.

Tags: Personalisation, Data, Marketing, Customer Journeys, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Salesforce Personalization

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