How To Make Personalized Marketing Work

Overwhelming marketing

Benefits, Best Practices, and More

With low attention spans, exposure to multiple channels, and a general sense of oversaturation, the consumer response to traditional marketing is changing fast. The conventional monetization channels are becoming increasingly tougher for the marketers to tap into. Brands are in a constant war with each other to fight for the prospect’s attention. With marketing messages coming from all four corners, prospects today have more content options than ever. Plus, with norms around privacy changing with time, the competition has never been more difficult for marketers.

Overwhelming marketing
Overwhelming marketing

…and you can’t blame the prospects.

 

With an overwhelming volume of content that is bombarded on them all the time, there is a sense of irritability creeping in. Result – even the most perfect prospect is defensive towards innovative marketing tactics. This effectively means higher bounce rates, low conversions, and wastage of resources. The tough times that we live in!

 

As a brand, you don’t want to become just another name that prospects ignore. The quest is to remain relevant and keep your audience engaged while maintaining a high ROI on your marketing campaigns. Fact is, the audience today is looking for targeted online experiences that are completely tailored to their interests.

Impersonal
Impersonal

…and that is exactly where personalization comes in.

In broader terms, personalization gives you an option to customize your content and stay relevant to your prospects. If executed well, the prospect might feel that a particular advertisement, email, video or a newsletter was curated just for them. With a superior degree of involvement, you’ll see higher conversions, better results, and a branding opportunity –  the perfect recipe for remaining at the top of your game while creating long-lasting monetization channels.

The present state of personalization in marketing

The marketing industry has already lapped up the concept of personalization. If you haven’t, try and run a small pilot, and you’d be surprised to see the positive data points. The actual techniques of personalization can vary though.

To begin with, it could be something as basic as simply addressing someone by name in an email. A more advanced personalization technique would be to completely alter the prospect’s environment based on their preferences, previous behavior, and browsing history. The sole aim is to tie every personalization endeavor into a fully integrated cross-channel plan, leading the prospects from discovery to intrigue, and finally make them purchase a product or service.

 

Personalization brings its challenges like increased overall costs and a need for a better IT infrastructure. Also, with an unclear estimation of eventual ROI, marketers are often confused about the incremental gain they would get out from the process of personalization. No, they are not unwilling to spend – just worried about the lack of uncertainty about whether or not they’re doing it right and using the reliable metrics.

 

Personalization is a fairly common process now, and it comes down to a healthy combination of experimentation with the unknowns, learning from your mistakes, and creating a better plan for the next campaign. The analysis should be based on the overall impact the campaign might have on your best prospects. It’s a simple rule – the more you learn, the more effective you will be at personalized marketing.

Where do marketers usually go wrong?

Missing obvious cues to personalize

In some cases, it’s very clear what your customer is looking for, and you should “personalize ” to avoid missing an opportunity for conversion.

For example, a person visiting a personal insurance portal and using the online calculator listed on the site is surely looking for an insurance plan. It’s a disaster not to use this opportunity to offer a good insurance plan to the prospect.

Have you discovered the right intent?

Analyze the important user data to have a well-informed estimate of the “real intent ” of the prospect. If you don’t know the process, hire an expert and invest in a better behavioral tracking tool. This is especially important when you have multiple products or services on your website.

For example – TiVo decided to personalize their marketing campaign. The company noticed certain data and trend about a user and began making some serious recommendations. TiVo mysteriously assumed that their customer is looking for a particular kind of shows.

In fact, you don’t need to go far. One random Google search, and you’ll find numerous examples of e-commerce personalization gone wrong. Some of these examples are absolute nightmares. Consider this tweet and imagine the deep insensitivity from the local mortuary. Events like these make you think that companies operating in certain fields should be extra careful about personalization.

 

Getting too personal to soon might hurt

Some customizations could prove to be nerve-racking for your prospects. Remember the infamous Target personalization debacle wherein the retail behemoth tracked buyer’s early pregnancy based on their purchases, eventually leading to a big PR disaster for the organization.

 

Be extra careful when tracking the location

Using customer’s location is probably the most important and basic personalization tactic used for marketing and advertising. However, as a brand, you need to be extra careful when you’re prospect travels a lot. Someone who’s staying in London for 15 days might go back to their hometown in Canada soon. Once they’re back, chances are they no longer need offers from the restaurants in London. So, customize your campaigns with precision to promote relevant messaging, or it might lead to PR blunders on social media.

And when personalization goes right!

There is no doubt that personalization can be a boon for marketers, retailers, and even consumers. As much as 96% marketers believe in the power of personalization. The real challenge is to personalize in ways that it delivers genuine ROI without annoying the end user. Let’s look at a few examples that showcase the power of personalization in marketing:

  1. Barbell Apparel was able to sell more than 9,000 pairs of jeans by using a highly specific personal outreach campaign designed for the discrete media sites.
  2. People who love wine are very specific and have clear preferences. These choices are at the center of the personalization strategy of Naked Wines. Visit their website, and with a few clicks, you can rate every wine listed on the portal. Then allow the website to give you some personalized recommendations based on how your preferences compare with other members. This is a great approach as customers gain a better understanding of what they like and don’t like in the first place. It’s a great way to give them the power to choose.
  3. Remember the famous “Share a Coke” campaign in Australia (which they also brought to the US in 2014.) The whole project was designed to reach young millennials with every bottle showing the most popular first names from that particular generation.
    The campaign became quite popular and proved to be a great way to reach a whole generation. It lead to more sales and better ROI for the brand.
  4. Then we have the most common one – Amazon. Their recommendation algorithm is usually top-notch. When you visit their site, it’s too difficult to resist the temptation of not looking down the page and look for personal recommendations. They seem to know their users well and offer the right product depending upon the preferences. As a consumer, it often leads to unplanned purchasing decisions, but that’s not Amazon’s fault, is it 🙂

Concluding thoughts

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

 

As an eager brand or an individual marketer, you might feel excited to provide your prospects with a personalized experience. The real question is – Are you ready to take it to the next level?

 

Do you have good prospect data?

Do you have the right tools, technology, and a willingness to experiment?

Do you have the in-house expertise to carry out the campaigns?

Do you have the right reason to personalize?

Do you know when to stop personalizing?

 

Every marketer is also a consumer. That’s why, when doing the personalization experiments, you need to think as a prospect and draw the line between creepy and professional. Since the consumers have come to expect it now, brings an extra responsibility on your shoulders.

 

Finally, you need to have an opt-out option for your customers as well. Knowing that they can opt-out of communication at any time creates a layer of trust. This step will make you appear flexible and secured. It will also keep you away from any blunders and help you maintain a positive and respectful image, even if something doesn’t work out with the prospect. They deserve that.

 

Personalized marketing is not complex. Try it out and make sure you’re doing it at the right time, in the right manner, and for the right reasons. What has been your experience with personalized marketing? Want to share some examples?

 

Do let us know in the comments.

Your customers aren’t all the same. So why is your ad saying the same thing to everyone?

Aha! A clue, Sherlock!

How to immediately increase your conversions and hold them

Focused attention is declining and, on the internet, is in free fall. Online marketers are in business of engaging people, and keeping them engaged. A single slip can make your customer leave the website — it only takes a split second to click that x mark and never come back.

3/4 of marketers only segment their users by “Customer” or “Non Customer”. No wonder customers feel bombarded with generic or irrelevant adverts, while companies are trying to out-yell each other, adding more to the noise.

Imagine this situation: You are standing in Grand Central Station and yelling “Where is the nearest Burger King? I need to know where the nearest Burger King is!” while 20 other people are yelling same things for whole range of fast food restaurants. If they disregard your potential psychiatric problems, maybe some passerby will approach and point you in the right way.

On the other hand, you can approach a guy with Burger King bag in his hand and ask him nicely to point you to the right place.

Aha! A clue, Sherlock!
Aha! A clue, Sherlock!

One of my principles is to try to distill signal from noise. There is just too much of it in this world, without each one of us adding more.

I will write here about the 3+ ways that can help you find that guy with a bag, and what to say to him, over the internet. Advantages are clear: higher conversion rates, upper hand over your competitors, and future-proofing your marketing strategies.

0. Market segmentation is elementary

Since that few marketers actually segment their customers I feel like I need to write the definition here:

Market segmentation is the process of dividing a broad consumer or business market, normally consisting of existing and potential customers, into sub-groups of consumers based on some type of shared characteristics.

Sure, if you’re doing Facebook/Instagram/Adwords, chances are that you are somewhat segmenting your potential customers. However, most of the readers of this article are still sending same generic Welcome email, serving same ads, and trying to reach customers through the same channels everyone else is using. In this day and age, that’s not enough.

You need that Burger King bag. Stop, listen and watch. You have better chances of finding it like that than randomly approaching everyone and asking them whether they have it. And you won’t lose your energy going after those people that think you are crazy for screaming intangible things on the train station.

1.Personalize your landing page
Where did someone come from and what does that tell us

You know your referrers. If a user comes to your website from StackOverflow, would you try to sell them your Advanced Marketing course? Chances are that it’s much better for them (and you), to show them that new tool you’ve built just for software developers.

But, if you’ve created aforementioned Advanced Marketing course for freelancers — designers, content writers, and software developers alike, it’s a good idea to offer them that one. However, if your typical software developer sees “This course has helped 5000 content writers write better copies”, chances are he’ll click away. He’ll leave, without knowing the fact that substantial percent of students are actually software developers, learning how to advertise and actually monetize their side-projects.

This is extremely actionable insight since using this approach forces you to have data-driven rethinking of your current offers. And if you have the data, you also have the ability to A/B test, measure your impact and give your staff more time to generate quality focused messages.

2. Personalize your offer 
Explore, enrich, improve, repeat

If you’re creating a unique experience for potential customers that come to your landing pages and following segmentation principles — congratulations, you are already doing better than your competitors!

Okay, so you know your customers come from focused Adwords ads and you respect the principle that each of your ad links has an equal landing page — in other words you don’t offer something completely different to users that click on your website. But there is still a lot room for improvement.

You need to know and analyze your customers’ behavior on your website, and “feel” the right moment when you make an offer. If you find yourself on a parking lot, strolling between cars and casually looking around at SUVs, does the salesman 5 seconds after you step into the lot scream at you “I HAVE THIS GREAT E-BOOK ABOUT HISTORY OF BMW, GIVE ME YOUR CONTACT DETAILS SO I CAN SEND IT”?

A better way to say thisOf course not. Even if you are genuinely interested in history of BMW, you wouldn’t give 2 seconds to that guy, let alone your home address. They wait for the right time to offer you something, they ease you into it, and when you are in the right state of mind, when you want to know about what he’s offering. So, why is this established practice on the internet?

You must wait for the your users’ right state of mind to make an offer. Quality before quantity.

If a user is binge-reading your articles, chances are that they love your content, and there is higher probability of converting if you frame it the right way. If they are only reading the ones about improving sales performance, you shouldn’t offer them a croissant. Context is of the essence here, and every company has its particular implementation.

In short, idea is to find out what your users are doing and act accordingly. Create unique experiences, enrich them through the (anonymous) data you’re collecting, improve it through testing and responses, repeat for profit.

Don’t forget or be afraid to ask your users!

Users can and will give you an invaluable insight if you just ask them. Strategy here is to offer them a dropdown menu instead of asking them for text input – it’s ready for segmentation because data is more consistent, and it’s easier for users. However, if you enrich users’ data from other sources, even though you can make it more personal, there is a high chance of creeping them out.

This is extremely important point because it can make or break your personalization strategy. Benefits are clear:

  1. you get to know and understand your users better, which leads to better service;
  2. you get quality and truthful data, not something you’ve guessed. Bad presumption early on can lead to completely different outcomes;
  3. they feel like they are getting to know you better and that builds trust in your brand;
  4. most importantly, it should help you evade the problems tied to creeping out your users. That leads us to the final point…

3. Don’t overdo it

Seriously, don’t.

2018 has so far proven to be a year of a personalized marketing boom. Many agencies in personalized advertising are popping up, and businesses want to improve their marketing strategies. Many of those agencies are eager and ready to test new things, try it out and see what works, and maybe they will be too eager.

Harvard Business Review had published an article about how the “too personal” ads are counterproductive. If users don’t know or don’t like how you got their information, they will be creeped out, and those campaigns can backfire.

Not only that, you must comply with new regulations regarding user privacy such as GDPR, Facebook updates to Terms of Service, Google stricter policies, and more. This is a thin line to cross, and you’d want to be as far from that line as possible.

Many companies are bound to get burned here. You want your company to last, not lose your customers’ trust, and not pay huge fines. But, many have also already gotten over 500% increased conversions using just some of the techniques mentioned here. The opportunities are huge, and with proper steps, you will reap the benefits.

I run a Consultancy business that can help you implement these things, and a lot more. If you’re interested, go to targetmaketing.co and find out more.

P.S. Since I’m writing this as a test and I don’t know whether people are actually interested in this topic, I would appreciate feedback immensely. I already have a couple of ideas for future articles in this series, so, If you’re interested or have idea of your own, please let me know.