Using Customer Intent To Unlock Personalisation 👩

By David Mannheim, Founder at Made With Intent


Describe what you do

I look at things in cynical ways and try to fix them. Often online. Often using whatever skills I possess. Sometimes being a bit too cheeky. I’ve applied this combination of cynicism, skills, and cheekiness to fixing how we measure success within ecommerce and looking out for the consumer. We’ve built a customer experience platform that measures retailers’ customer intent.

Why should we use customer intent to unlock personalisation?

Personalisation is hard to do, I admit. Data collection, accessibility, and management are making it harder, let alone the restrictions. But intent is the most human form of personalising. It’s real, responsive, and in-moment. It’s about listening more. B2B has been using intent data to personalise and prioritise their selling process for years, so why not B2C?

You recently wrote “The hardest part about running a conversion rate optimisation agency? The stigma.” - tell me more.

Despite the evolution of the term “conversion rate optimisation,” stakeholders have found it difficult to move past the definition. The binary, reductive explanation of optimising a conversion rate. A retrospective, aggregated figure that defines results, not performance. We can change that perspective by changing the metric. Something that we’re trying to do at Made With Intent by moving from retrospective to predictive. From conversion to expected conversion.

Why does eCommerce need its Money Ball moment, and why is it important?

Our current measurement protocols neglect the very people we’re selling to. The problems that Moneyball solved in baseball are eerily similar to the problems that have existed in eCommerce for ages. 1. A myopic focus on the aggregate. 2. Reviewing metrics that focus on results, not performance. By virtue we focus on quantity, not quality. On competence, not care. On business, not customers.

What problems are you trying to solve with Made With Intent?

Retailers focus on the conversion, not the person. They often look so much at the 2% that do convert, they forget about the 98% that don't. This leads retailers to see all visitors as sessions to squeeze the most out of, overlooking personal needs and future value. It's a myopic focus on results, not performance; on quality not quality.

Your focus is eCommerce at the moment, but do you think there is scope for Made With Intent to branch out into other sectors? If so, what opportunities do you think there are?

Absolutely. The concept of intent is simply understanding more about what someone is saying and responding appropriately. Call that personalisation. Call that listening more. We do this in our day to day lives regardless; so bringing this very human concept online feels natural. B2B have been using intent for years for example.

What surprised you most when researching “The Person in Personalisation”?

The conflict. There was a clear 50 / 50 split in whether all 153 of my interview respondents thought personalisation was good or bad. Whether it was designed to be the hero or the villain. Whether it was even achievable or not. Let alone whether it should be spelled with an “s” rather than a “z”. It’s an “s” by the way; we’re not animals.

What brands do you think do an excellent job of personalisation?

Loads of brands do a great job, they just often go under the radar. The answer is any brand with an authentic purpose. A genuine reason to personalise. Gousto for helping people to discover food. New York Times for helping people to find relevant content. Bloom and Wild for communicating with their customers at a personal level with care. Notice how I’m using words like help, personal and care… the clue is in the title “personal-isation”

What other technologies, consultants or agencies do you rate in the conversion or personalisation space? Who are ones to watch?

I’ll recommend my arch nemesis turned good friend Rasmus Houlind, his book on personalisation (Hello $First Name) is a thorough, well-thought out appreciation of what personalisation should be. It was important for Rasmus and his co-authors to add value by dispelling myths, providing evidence, and combining sources of material to have genuine practical application. It wasn’t the why, or the what that was important, but the how. A very good take on a complex subject in my opinion.

Of course, it’s sucking up a lot of oxygen. But I’m curious what your high level thoughts are on AI and how it can be applied to personalisation.

*face palm*. I struggle with this question. AI will naturally make personalisation easier, requiring less effort, and, in doing so, that will propel it forward. We’d all rather take the blue pill than go to the gym to lose weight. But, in doing so, I think it leads us down a garden path. It leads us down a path where it removes, or simulates, the very thing that personalisation is meant to be all about; creating relationships.