What Marketing Personalization Really Means
In the past month, personalized marketing appeared on a lot of “top trends of 2020” lists across the web, but you have to wonder if they know what personalization really means.
Separate from mass marketing—or even targeted marketing—personalized marketing speaks to an audience of one. It takes advantage of modern technology to create highly customized marketing materials based on data about a customer’s demographics and behavior. Also, thanks to modern tech, this personalization can now be done on a large scale using automation and machine learning.
For every company promising to deliver a personalized experience, there seems to be a gap in what that personalization means. Many of these definitions fall flat because they don’t truly offer the one-to-one experience that is at the core of marketing personalization.
Marketing personalization goes farther than plugging customer names into the beginning of your email or remarketing by showing someone an ad of the last product they viewed on your site. It’s about adapting your messaging and your methods to precisely match user preference.
Let’s Get Personal
So, what is personalization, really?
Marketing personalization is all about creating and cultivating relationships with each and every person in your audience. To do that, you have to go beyond simple segmentation to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time in the right channel.
The Right Message
Personalized messaging is calibrated specifically to appeal to the individual. Segmenting your audience into three groups and showing a different ad to each one, while still valuable, is not personalization. Auto-populating customer’s first names into your email is not personalization.
With personalization, products, offers, imagery, and messaging are all finely attuned to anticipate customer wants and behaviors. That may require the creative of thousands, even millions, of individualized messages.
The Right Person
Marketing personalization relies heavily on insights conducted on the individual level. Segmentation may form the basis of personalization, but it doesn’t end there. It goes further by incorporating individual data on user profiles that helps marketers to understand and anticipate consumer behavior.
For personalization to work, you need a rich database from which you can draw. You need the ability to track each interaction that a customer has with your business over time so that you can deliver a personalized experience across your website, your advertising, and your customer support.
The Right Time
Personalizing a customer’s experience requires companies to cultivate an ongoing relationship at each stage of the individual’s journey. It means not just responding in real-time to what that person may want today but also anticipating their needs well into the future.
For example, if you’ve ever bought a piece of clothing for a baby on Amazon, you know how this works. As your child grows, so do its needs. Amazon anticipates this and continues to send you personalized ads and emails that change over time to continually give you age-appropriate recommendations, even if it’s been some time since you’ve last ordered.
The Right Channel
The days of sending out one email campaign and getting massive results are long gone. Not only is email competitive, with much of it going unread in overstuffed inboxes, customers are now communicating across a broader range of channels, spreading their attention much thinner and making them harder to reach. That’s why customers often require a dozen+ touches before they make a purchase.
Personalized marketing requires companies to deliver their message wherever and however their customers spend time online.
The Future of Marketing Personalization
Obviously, reaching each individual on a personalized level requires an investment into the technology and skills that make it possible to do on a large scale. Sure, the neighborhood bartender might know your name and favorite drink order, but you can’t expect a large business to truly know each one of its customers. Automation, increased access to consumer data, and cloud computing all make it possible to gather, share, and utilize data in a more effective way, and that will only get better as the technology evolves.
Data insights into customer behavior has become more accessible, even to smaller businesses. We’re relying on our ability to bring in data and share it across silos and across departments. Connecting that data is essential to presenting a truly holistic profile for each customer and adjusting our marketing accordingly.