September 14, 2023

Personalized behavioral recaps: An overview

Why you should use behavioral data to create amazing year-in-review campaigns for your customers.

article summarized in < 240 characters

Personalized Behavioral Recaps (PBRs) offer individualized summaries. They evoke nostalgia, offer insights, and encourage sharing. While enhancing user-brand connection, it's crucial to balance personalization with privacy.

Introduction

Personalized Behavioral Recaps or Year-in-Review campaigns, might ring a bell if you've ever encountered a vibrant end-of-year summary from your music app or an activity overview from your fitness tracker. Beyond their attractive visuals and nostalgic elements, what purpose do they serve? And why are brands going the extra mile to present you with these bespoke summaries?

Let’s unpack this, and start by grounding our understanding of PBRs in tangible, real-world use cases. 

Five examples of personalized behavioral recaps

The following five examples provide a snapshot of how brands and platforms are leveraging the power of personalized insights for year-in-review communication.

1. Spotify Wrapped

Perhaps one of the most well-known personalized behavioral recaps, Spotify Wrapped gives users an annual summary of their listening habits. It includes top songs, genres, artists, and even the total minutes spent listening. This recap often becomes a social media trend, with users sharing their musical year in review.

2. Fitbit’s year in review

One notable example in the fitness domain of personalized behavioral recaps is Fitbit's Year in Review. This feature provides users with a comprehensive overview of their annual fitness and health achievements. From total steps taken and floors climbed to sleep patterns and heart rate insights, this recap allows users to reflect on their wellness journey. 

3. Goodreads Year in Books

For users of the book-tracking platform Goodreads, the Year in Books feature offers an infographic summary of reading habits. Based on the data that the user has logged on the platform it shows total books read, pages turned, popular genres, and top-rated reads of the year.

4. Meta’s Year in review(s) (Facebook & Instagram)

Meta's Year in Reviews offers users a curated flashback of their most memorable moments, interactions, and posts throughout the year. Whether it's a widely shared photo, a memorable comment thread, or trending hashtags they engaged with, the recap encapsulates a user's digital journey. In 2022 Instagram rolled out the “2022 recap reel” which also included narration from famous artists and profiles.

5. Grocery retailer ICA’s Year-in-Review

ICA is one of the largest food retailers in Sweden, and has one of the largest loyalty programs in the Nordics. In 2023 SEEN helped deliver a “year in review” film for selected members of the loyalty program.

After the campaign a survey was conducted among members, which received 22,000 responses. Results showed that 85% of respondents had a favourable or very favourable view of the communication. Of those respondents, three out of four gave the highest possible score.

The core elements of personalized behavioral recaps

Personalized Behavioral Recaps have certain common elements that make them unique and effective as relationship marketing tools. Here are the usual components:

  • Data Aggregation: PBRs collect and analyze user behavior over a specific period. This data forms the foundation of the recap.

  • Visualization: These recaps often present data in visually appealing formats, such as graphs, charts, or even video.

  • Personalization: The information is tailored to each user, reflecting their unique behaviors, preferences, or interactions.

  • Highlighting Key Metrics: PBRs emphasize important statistics or data points, such as "most listened to song" or "number of hours spent on a platform."

  • Emotional Connection: By often tying in elements of nostalgia, PBRs resonate emotionally, reminding users of past experiences.

  • Shareability: Designed for the social media age, PBRs typically come with easy-to-use sharing options to let users showcase their recap with friends and followers.

  • Call to Action: Many PBRs end with a prompt, encouraging further interaction, be it revisiting the platform, sharing the recap, or exploring new features.

Understanding the magic of PBRs

A PBR isn’t just a digital “Look what you did!” It’s a carefully tailored reflection of your interactions, likes, and patterns over a designated time frame. 

Whether highlighting your most-streamed songs, fitness milestones, or shopping habits, PBRs are designed to create an emotional bond between you and the service you’re using. When done right PBRs can be one of the most efficient tools in your relationship marketing toolbox.

Why the buzz around PBRs?

PBRs serve multiple purposes for brands:

  • Nostalgia: Taking a trip down memory lane is universally loved. PBRs that evoke past moments or favorites craft a deeper, more emotional tie between the user and the brand.

  • Information: Displaying your activities in an easy-to-understand manner makes users feel acknowledged and provides insights into personal habits.

  • Personalization: Everyone yearns to be recognized as unique. PBRs tap into this desire by presenting an overview that is unmistakably yours.

  • Social comparison: PBRs have a potential virality due to the fact that they often prompt (actively or passively) users to compare themselves with, or even brag for, friends and family.

However, with the benefits of PBRs, there's a crucial aspect brands need to manage: privacy. A balance must be struck – personalization is both valuable and interesting when done right, but crossing into perceived surveillance can be off-putting.

Related concepts and technologies

It's always helpful to consider overlapping or related concepts that share the core principles or objectives. Below are a few concepts that interlink with PBRs and that will help you build a broader contextual understanding of the landscape of user engagement and personalization.

Customer Segmentation

The process of dividing a company's target market into distinct groups based on certain characteristics, such as demographics, buying habits, or interests. Like PBRs, customer segmentation aims to understand and cater to individual user needs, enhancing personalized experiences.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics uses historical data to forecast future events. In the context of PBRs, predictive analytics might be employed to understand a user's future behavior based on their past actions, allowing for more tailored experiences and recommendations.

User Experience Personalization (UX Personalization)

The process of tailoring the user's experience on a platform or service based on their preferences, behaviors, and past interactions. It aims to present users with what's most relevant to them, similar to how PBRs provide customized recaps based on user behavior.

Personalized video technology

Personalized video is a technology that allows for the creation of video with personal messaging at scale. Technologies in this space enable brands and organizations to use their data to create immersive video based experiences that are adapted for each individual viewer.

Research on personalized behavioral recaps

With PBRs becoming more of a staple in digital marketing there is more research to be had on the topic.

In 2023 the trend was dissected by the Center for Retailing of Stockholm School of Economics and published in the report “Personalized Behavioral Recaps and Satisfaction”. 

A few key takeaways from the research include:

  • Nostalgia’s Dominance: Users deeply connect with recaps that hark back to past experiences. It’s not just about data; it’s about the feelings and memories associated with that data.

  • Clear Narratives: PBRs should tell a story — one that’s digestible and meaningful. Raw data needs context and presentation to truly resonate.

  • The Essence of Personalization: Users don’t just want "a" recap; they want "their" recap. This distinction is paramount in crafting a successful PBR.

  • Walking the Privacy Line: Users value tailored insights but remain vigilant about their privacy. Brands that acknowledge this duality and navigate it effectively tend to have more engaging PBRs.

Key takeaways

Personalized Behavioral Recaps are more than a fleeting trend; they are a testament to our era's craving for personalization and connection.

Brands aiming to employ PBRs should remain user-centric, balancing personal touches with respect for privacy. As users, these recaps offer a unique mirror into our digital habits, making the online experience more interactive and personal.

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