How To Make Personalized Marketing Work

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.


…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.

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