Marketing Personalization: What It Means and Why It Matters
Personalization has become such a hot topic that the conversations surrounding it don’t feel very … umm … personal anymore. So, let’s break it down. What is marketing personalization, and what isn’t it? What do consumers expect from personalization, and what might that look like for your organization?
Here’s what truly meaningful marketing personalization really is, why you should care about it, and how you can use it to make your marketing more effective.
What Marketing Personalization Isn’t
Data-driven marketing personalization is essential to turning potential prospects into paying customers. Marketing personalization uses data to deliver this relevant and accessible content to targeted audience members, encouraging a relationship between customer and company by making customers feel like brands are talking directly to them.
Marketing personalization is not as simple as adding “Hello [FIRST NAME] [LAST NAME],” to your email greeting or recommending a product solely based on geographic location.
“Personalization wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff as everyone else sees,” says author Seth Godin. “No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behavior as the most important clue about what people want and more importantly, what they need.”
Our biggest challenge is to balance personalization with personality. Brands, buildings, and logos can’t talk to prospects. But people can. Sure, use the machines to personalize where you can, but also act and speak like a real person. Tell a personal story. Keep it real.
What Consumers Expect Personalization to Be
Technology offers consumers the freedom to buy anything from anywhere, at anytime. This freedom leaves consumers demanding more from brands. Consumers want relevant, meaningful, even “lovable” experiences that connect deeply with their lives—and research from Accenture and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) supports this.
Sixty-three percent of consumers surveyed are interested in personalized recommendations, and most are willing to share their data for benefits, like automatic credits, coupons, or loyalty points. Shoppers not only want, but expect richer, more relevant shopping experiences across all channels, including online and in-person experiences, and they’re willing to offer personal data in exchange. It’s up to marketers to use that data to inform their strategy.
The most profitable brands don’t compete on price; they are focused on speed, value, and availability to their customers. To be available, they have to be where their customers are. To provide a speedy response, they have to be listening. And to provide value, they’ve got to provide an individualized response.
What Marketing Personalization Looks Like
So if it isn’t adding “Hello [FIRST NAME*LAST NAME],” to your email greeting, what does marketing personalization look like? As marketer extraordinaire Ann Handley reminds us, “Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time.”
Tailoring your marketing to feel more human requires the use of a few tools including a customer data platform (CDP) that delivers a unified view of your customer. The data you collect from your CDP will help you create more frequent, more personalized content, such as:
- Customized email reminders. Encourage shoppers to purchase what’s left in their online cart with a coupon code, or ask them to review the latest product they bought.
- More relevant recommendations. For example, beauty giant Sephora uses customer data to recommend product types, like cologne, timed to typical usage cycles.
- Emotionally intelligent communication. Artificial intelligence combined with customer data can help craft resonant messages that feel authentically human.
Instead of one-way interruption, personalized marketing is about delivering value at just the right moment that a user needs it.
What Does It Take to Deliver Personalization at Scale?
To meet your audience’s needs and provide relevant, personalized marketing experiences, your martech stack should deliver one-to-one personalization at scale. The right customer data platform provides a unified view of your customer, and brings sophisticated functionality to your business. With the right tools in place, you can begin delivering truly personalized marketing experiences to your customers, helping them accelerate their journey toward a purchase.
To see how enterprises like yours win (and lose) with omnichannel personalization, download the Forbes Insights report: The Clear Path to Personalization.