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Why companies gaslight email personalisation

Why companies gaslight hyper-personalisation

Gaslighting, is a form of psychological abuse, dimming the lights to hide the clarity of truth. In this case, we refer to where companies make you question your perception of reality.

People experiencing gaslighting often feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust themselves. Often it is based on lies, and pressure and used for coercion, to make someone commonly see an alternate perception. You can bet it’s what the person doing the gaslighting needs you to believe, to further their own goals.

Scholars would also call it obfuscation, meaning to make something difficult to understand. For example, programming code is often obfuscated to protect intellectual property or trade secrets and to prevent an attacker from reverse engineering a proprietary software program. So why would someone want to confuse something as straightforward as email hyper-personalisation?

Gaslighting often develops gradually, making it difficult for a person to detect. Sometimes it’s obvious, and you only have to read a website to identify it easily, if you know what to look for. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, techniques a person may use to gaslight someone include:

Countering: This describes a person questioning someone’s memories. They may say things such as, “You never remember things accurately,” or “Are you sure? You have a bad memory.” This is ideal for companies wanting you to believe their software does the same thing as that you want or need. 

For example saying “Sure we offer email hyper-personalisation”, yet on close examination, you could discover that what they are offering is segmenting audiences. Ask yourself the question, “If someone filled an auditorium with people including you, and made you stand in a group of people, are you enjoying personalisation, or being lumped together with a load of others?”.  Segmentation is not personalisation, indeed there is an argument that it is more likely to be construed that segmentation is marketing marginalisation.  

  • Withholding: When someone withholds, they refuse to engage in a conversation. A person using this technique may pretend not to understand someone so that they do not have to respond to them. For example, they might say, “I do not know what you are talking about,” or “you are just trying to confuse me.” A professional marketeer would reasonably be expected to have achieved a good academic standard, be polite, enjoy social involvement and be respected by their peers.

    Correspondingly they would be this very nature not expecting that anyone would deliberately withhold information from them. But consider if you owned a software company, that had been a trusted and established brand for years, but which didn’t take on board the shifting emphasis on personalisation. Instead, it preferred to adapt the technology it offered, merely rebranding it by using the latest buzzwords instead. Would you spot it?

    The perfect example of this lack of transparency offered by companies in their public ratings. respect the ones who offer open and unadulterated results more, than those who look too good to be true. 
  • Trivialising: This occurs when a person belittles or disregards the other person’s feelings. They may accuse them of being too sensitive or of overreacting when they have valid concerns and feelings. Consider that multiple sources of the latest results illustrate that personalisation outperforms every other form of marketing at a rate over 20x that of anything else. 

    These are the figures being used by a variety of research companies including Deloitte, Statista and McKinsey.Companies that practise gaslighting, don’t want you to know these figures, and the obvious practice to ensure you don’t spot it is references to other stats, like it costing 6x more to get new customers than keep an existing one. While true it doesn’t highlight that personalisation to the same “retained customers” is 20x higher with hyper-personalisation. 
  • Denial: Denial involves a person pretending to forget events or how they occurred. They may deny having said or done something or accuse someone of making things up. in fairness, we are yet to see an example of this directly, possibly due to legal liability. Therefore this is more likely to be something spoken than printed.  Nevertheless, if you’re chatting away to someone and they say, “Yeah that’s all well and good, but our software easily performs as well as theirs”, need look to their laurels if the shrewd marketer later discovers the volume of losses incurred as a consequence of this duplicity. 
  • Diverting: With this technique, a person changes the focus of a discussion and questions the other person’s credibility instead. For example, they might say, “That’s just another crazy idea you got from that company.” This is an old salesman’s practice from ages past, and a much-publicised practice used in Hollywood blockbusters. Keeping the audience distracted watching the left hand, while the trick is being performed by the right. “Oooh look at the bright shiny thing there”, and the caveat – don’t take any notice that the sales aren’t as good, or that you have to employ someone at £50k a year to do it, needing an ROI of double if not treble that to break-even, even before you start. 
  • Stereotyping: An article in the American Sociological Review states that a person using gaslighting techniques may intentionally use negative stereotypes of a competitor to manipulate their perception, as that lower than their own. This always hits the new guys hardest. It may smash all the stats, but “If they haven’t been invited to the top table at the club, do you want to give them your attention?.” You should be saying “You betcha”.

The importance of hyper-personalisation

Ecommerce personalisation increases sales, customer engagement, and customer loyalty. 45% of consumers say they are more likely to shop on an ecommerce site that offers personalisation. Why spend valuable time looking at products of zero interest, when instead you can be led exactly to what you like and want?

Setting up a truly effective personalised ecommerce experience may be seen as a complex proposition involving lots of moving parts, but with the right set of tools at hand, it is much easier to achieve.

Overall, ecommerce personalisation is simply the only way to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced ecommerce environment, and luckily, it is always possible to start small. If you are already personalising the ecommerce experience to your individual customer needs, ask yourself, what else can I do to provide an even better customer experience? What can be done to treat each person uniquely and not just as another statistic?  The key elements of AI machine learning email hyper-personalisation are that it offers 100 % autonomy and perpetual relevancy for your customers.

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