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Abstract

In the 21st century the quantity of research on personalization has grown exponentially. New technologies enable efficient interaction with customers, even on one-to-one basis, providing the right content in the right format to the right person at the right time. The latest developments with “big data” analytics promise unprecedented opportunities for personalization, even in real-time. Although the technological advances allow fancy enhancements in personalization, it is imperative that the context-specific customer attitudes towards online personalization are taken into account by businesses. Customers are increasingly aware of their privacy, which improper personalization may intrude.

This article presents the results of a two-phase study. Focus group interviews uncovered first the perceptions of bank customers regarding personalized marketing communication on online bank. A subsequent exploratory study investigated the online behaviour of customers, that is, their genuine responses to personalized messages. In this phase, bank customers were shown personalized banner advertisements when they logged in to their bank service. We studied, among others, the click-through rates and navigational behaviour and compared the effectiveness of personalized banners to default banners, and to traditional direct-mail messages. The personalized banners attracted more attention than default banners. In two of the three cases, the actual sales were also higher than in the case of direct-mail promotion. The results offer implications both for research and practice.

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