Why Personalizing Marketing Works


Personalization in marketing is the key trend. Consumers want advertising that seems to speak directly to them. A recent study found that 79{21dc2fe1b43c4cf57a2e25a56b286f09fbb32a45ddf34dcf04be366972dd7b06} of senior marketers worldwide who reported exceeding revenue goals had a documented personalization strategy in place, compared with only 8{21dc2fe1b43c4cf57a2e25a56b286f09fbb32a45ddf34dcf04be366972dd7b06} of those who missed their revenue goals.

However, delivering a personalized experience takes finesse. According to a University of Texas study, two factors drive consumer’s desire for personalized experiences: control and information overload. If someone feels unique and special, they feel more in control. And if consumers have an experience that is clearly optimized for their tastes and preferences, they feel that their time is not being wasted with unnecessary or unwanted information. This alleviates information overload. Striking this balance means understanding how to develop and deliver a campaign that reaches your audience and makes advertising seem effortless.

Getting it Right

More than a third of consumers (and more than half of those under 50) prefer personalized messages. However, between 40{21dc2fe1b43c4cf57a2e25a56b286f09fbb32a45ddf34dcf04be366972dd7b06} and 50{21dc2fe1b43c4cf57a2e25a56b286f09fbb32a45ddf34dcf04be366972dd7b06} of consumers do not believe that the personalized messages they receive are high quality or motivational. The risk associated with poor personalization is high. More than 40{21dc2fe1b43c4cf57a2e25a56b286f09fbb32a45ddf34dcf04be366972dd7b06} of US consumers have dumped a company because of “poor personalization and lack of trust.”

Finding the ‘high-quality’ aspect of personalized advertising is complex. Providers such as Netflix and Amazon use data and algorithms to generate recommendations based on cookies information from a user. Providing accurate recommendations is a powerful sales tool, but is costly. As with all marketing, you must start with a deep understanding of your customer; their motivations, their concerns, and the journey they will take with your products or services. Transactional personalization is a great place to start (discount offers, abandoned shopping cart follow-ups, helpful chatbots). However, marketers should also consider more advanced tactics such as mapping content to the sales lifecycle and dynamically modifying mobile apps and webpages to align with the customer’s past behaviour, interests, and probable (or desired) next steps.

And that is where it begins to become complex. People want control over their data. You need to generate a great deal of trust with your consumer to be able to provide a very personalized experience. This means that marketers must ensure transparency and access. They must also ensure that data is secure. This requires both the technological and cultural foundation to give consumers a clear picture of what is happening behind the scenes. In many cases, you only need to fail once in this regard to loose not only a significant number of customers but also a face massive fines which could cripple your business.

Psychology and Analytics

Hyper-relevance is the driving force behind personalized marketing. To achieve this, predictive analytics has become almost commonplace. The tools that allow for real-time data insights, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and CRM integration can be accessed with little cost, or outsourced so you buy the results. Marketers need web content management tools that allow them to leverage dynamic content generation. This applies not only to personalized email but also to tactics such as customized landing and homepages.

However, marketers should not forget that relationship building and feedback based on consumer experiences are often more relevant. For content marketing, in particular, behaviour-based data is useful to develop appropriate content that taps into insights and emotions. Account-based marketing platforms can help individualize the delivery of this content. For smaller businesses, however, having a bank of content that supports specific types of customers in common situations and contexts offers a valuable touchpoint for sales and marketing teams. The human experience behind the data is too valuable to be ignored, so if you are trying to decide where to invest, customer service will always outweigh targeted advertising in the view of the consumer.

Mobilize your Insights

Mobile apps can offer you customer insights you often cannot access in other ways. Customers who download apps are asking to have a relationship with your brand, so you owe them an experience. When customers open your app, they will expect an optimized and efficient experience. Within an ethical framework, marketers can design apps to collect a wide range of data points about consumers that will improve the customer experience, not just allow for more targeted advertising.

For example, certain behaviours (such as a check-in or a purchase) can trigger follow up content that users will actually find useful. In some cases, consumers are willing to answer questions about themselves to improve their app experience. And, of course, data can be collected over time to further enhance the experience within the app. However, while the temptation may be there to track every move customers make while their mobile is on, transparency, utility, and security will help build trust and a long-term customer relationship.

Most importantly, your app needs to be a value-adding service. If you have created a fitness app to promote your brand, you need to have a large amount of free content, such as stretches, eating tips and record-keeping features, to engage the customer. If you simply offer the illusion of providing an exciting platform but offer no substance, such as one or two basic workouts and many bugs or glitches, users will likely delete your app and loose trust in your brand, while also calling you out on reviews for providing a poor product or service.

Avoiding ‘Creepy’

More than a third of consumers use digital assistants and nearly 90{21dc2fe1b43c4cf57a2e25a56b286f09fbb32a45ddf34dcf04be366972dd7b06} of those said that they are satisfied with the experience. However, 40{21dc2fe1b43c4cf57a2e25a56b286f09fbb32a45ddf34dcf04be366972dd7b06} said it can feel “slightly creepy” when technology starts to correctly read and anticipate their needs. When you have just had a conversation on the couch about wanting chocolate for dessert then your phone pops up with exactly the product you were discussing, that is creepy!

The challenge (and opportunity) is to collect data in a transparent way that makes the value proposition to the consumer clear. It is also incredibly powerful to provide consumers with ways to provide feedback in real-time (i.e. “already purchased” or “this ad is not relevant to me”). People don’t want to feel like their technology is listening, even though everyone understands that it is. Your advertising can be relevant and useful, such as banners placed on pages associated with what the customer has been researching, i.e. sugar when the person has been looking at recipes for cookies, but not intrusive, such as a pop-up for a new movie after the person has been discussing an actor with a friend – offline.

The End

All good marketing starts and ends with the customer. You need to know them well and decide if you can deliver value to them by personalizing their experience. You will also need to give some serious consideration about whether the investment associated with personalization is worthwhile, given the size of your business and your goals.

There is a wide range of personalization tactics that are worth considering as part of your marketing strategy. Given the barrage of marketing, advertising, and other information consumers are bombarded with, leveraging personalization to cut through the noise and deliver real value to your customers is important. Just be certain that you are offering real value, and not just casting a wide net trying to catch every customer in each platform, and annoying people as they move through the Internet in their daily activities.


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