There’s good news, and there’s bad news. We’ll start with the bad: it’s no longer enough to only develop a marketing campaign. Putting all your resources into marketing will be a waste of time and money if you’re not adopting a sophisticated approach. And now the good news: you have everything at your disposal to incorporate that sophisticated approach, which will, in turn, allow you to foster a more substantial relationship with your customers. Below, we take an in depth look at how you can personalize your marketing, as well as the benefits of doing so.
Right, before you begin the journey toward personalizing your user experience, let’s take a look at what you’ll actually get in return. For starters, you’ll be making your customers happier, as well as making it easier for them to continue doing business with you. If you treat them as individuals rather than just another number, you’ll also be making it more likely that they stay as customers in the future (and improving customer loyalty is always a good thing). On a practical level, having one eye on personalization can help focus your marketing and develop a long term strategy.
Problems and Difficulties
Of course, personalized marketing doesn’t just happen. It takes effort, sometimes more effort than a company can give. If you’re intent on reaping the benefits of personalized marketing, you’re going to need a dedicated team to untangle the vast amounts of data that is needed to make it a reality. Also, you should be aware of the limitations: you will not be able to precisely tailor your marketing to each customer. You’ll need to make a few assumptions and guesses here and there; it’s more about making it generally personal rather than comprehensively so.
Different Shades of the Same Color
Everyone is unique, but not overly so. People have characteristics that make them stand apart from the crowd, but only slightly. It’s like a zig-zag in the ocean: up close, the points look far away from each other. From a distance, it just looks like a straight line. As such, people of the same age and who have the same income (more or less) will have more similarities than they do differences. This allows you to create a number of “customer personas,” which you can then apply to your clients. One character might be “aged 29-36, $50,000 income, likes high quality, eco-friendly goods’. From there, you’ll be able to create marketing materials that you only send to your customers who fit that persona.
If you’re not making the most of email marketing, then it’s time to start. The stats surrounding email marketing not only suggest that it’s effective; they say that every company, no matter the size, should be incorporating them as a central part of their marketing campaigns. Put simply, people respond to emails. If you’ve already got a database full of email addresses, then put it to good use: the addresses you have are of people who have already shown an interest in your company. They are “on the hook,” so to speak. If you can make it so that each email uses your customer’s name, then all the better. Blanket emails are more and more failing to make it through spam filters; if someone has signed up to your mailing list, and you have their name, you’ll notice a significant increase in click through conversions.
Exist in their Personal Space
The lines between a customer’s personal and private space are becoming more and more blurred, for the simple reason that the vast majority are carrying in their pockets a device with which they do everything. There’s enough information about mobile marketing to suggest that it’s a highly useful tool, provided that you use it wisely. It’s easy to abuse this function, but if you do so, you’ll quickly lose the trust and patience of your customers. Sending an SMS message with a particular offer, ideally one that is time limited is a great way to prompt your customers to make a purchase. Mobile marketing isn’t just about SMS, either: you can also create an app and send targeted promotions through that. People have little objection to this form of marketing, providing it’s relevant and not spammy.
You shouldn’t just have one website: you should have thousands, each unique to your visitor. Of course, your site will only have one address, and these “thousands of websites” will only differ slightly, but they will have differences. You have enough data at your disposal to show a version of your website that is relevant to your visitor. For example, if a customer has previously bought – or search for – say, a hiking bag at your website, then you should be showing them more camping supplies the next time they visit because it’s obviously something they have an interest in. For a closer look at this approach, look no further than Amazon’s recommendations system: it accounts for a staggering amount of the website’s income.
Appealing To Their Desires
There are smart ways to personalize your content to a user, and one of these is to allow them to customize their content. There’s a great example of this, which formed part of an Iberia Airlines marketing campaign. They asked their customers to pick a place on earth they would love to travel to, as well who they would like to travel with. That’s a nice question to answer, and many did – and they also provided the email address for the person they would go with. From nothing, Iberia Airlines have created a deeper connection with their existing customers and boosted their mailing list at the same time. It’s also just a great way to conduct market research: rather than just asking customers for feedback, which is pretty boring, you can dress it up in a way to ask them what they want.
If you have an ecommerce site, you’ll know all too well that many people put things in the basket, go to checkout, and then vanish from your site altogether without making the purchase. It happens all the time. One way you can get round this is to intercept your customer before they have a chance to leave. If they’re inactive on the checkout page for thirty seconds or more, it’s more likely that they’ll leave without buying rather than it is they’ll make the purchase. If they’re suddenly offered a “unique” discount that applies just to them (for whatever reason you want to invent), they’re more likely to complete the transaction.
When in Doubt, Don’t
Of course, there are ways in which personalization can go wrong. And that is when you get the personal details wrong. If you’re a customer called Steve, and you get an email or other correspondence that begins “dear John,” then you’ve just lost a customer. While personalizing your content to your clients is a good idea, you should only do it if you have the workforce and resources to get it right. It’s much worse to get it wrong than not do it at all!
Getting Too Personal
And talking of getting it wrong, it would be a bad idea to go too far the other way, and get too personal. People have, for a good reason, become more guarded about their privacy. Using their name in an email is fine: getting too specific, such as using information they haven’t volunteered but which you have access to (such as location) is crossing a line. Above all, respect your customer’s privacy – you’ll never get them back if you use the data you have to gain an unfair advantage, using information that they have not voluntarily given up.
In many ways, it’s not so much about how you personalize your content. If you’re trying to make your customer feel like an individual, then you’re on the right lines. In some cases, it’s the small details that can make the biggest difference. For example, if a customer hasn’t yet made a purchase, then the focus should be on gently nudging them in the right direction. If they visit your site after the purchase has made, then the tone should shift to making sure they’re happy with their experience, with links to your customer service team. Personalisation should be mutually beneficial: all great relationships work best when they flow both ways!
To The Future
We’re really just getting going when it comes to personalized marketing. As technologies and attitudes evolve, we’ll see it forming a much greater share of a company’s marketing campaign. The biggest barrier at the moment isn’t data – there’s plenty of that – but decoding the data that’s the issue. In any case, over the coming years it will take off, and by implementing it into your strategy now, you can position yourself ahead of the curve.
The scope for personalized marketing is limitless. Engage with your customers, treat them as the individuals they are, and you’ll see an improvement on your conversions and sales.