With audiences experiencing more noise than ever before, brands are turning to hyper-personalized messages to connect with consumers at an individual level. At the same time, the use of technology continues to increase alongside the immense amount of data needed to stay on pace with consumers. Brands that aren't able to adjust to the changing needs of consumers will ultimately sink into digital white noise. What’s the solution? Integrating personalization into your marketing strategy using a data-driven approach.
Personalized marketing, or one-to-one marketing, caters to the unique wants and needs of your audience as individuals rather than as a group. Quite the opposite of mass marketing, which emphasizes quantity over relevance, personalized marketing is the practice of delivering unique experiences by identifying what consumers respond to on an individual level. By gaining an in-depth understanding of these individuals through constant data collection and analysis, brands can gather insights and ask themselves “what will we do differently with this information?”.
While personalizing a customer journey for each individual might seem daunting for most marketers (as illustrated in more detail by the table to the right from eMarketer.com), companies that have adopted this approach have seen enormous growth in revenue and brand reputation.
Within the ecommerce realm, brands have the advantage of being able to capture a user’s data at multiple points along the customer's journey and turn that data into actionable insights. Before going to the drawing board to personalize your marketing strategy, take some inspiration from the brand-defining examples below:
In an age of ecommerce where consumers spend more time online, want immediate responses and have short attention spans, product recommendations are crucial to increasing revenue. Based on the customer’s shopping history, brands can recommend products that the customer is likely to purchase.
Several years ago, people discovered that Target assigned a ‘pregnancy prediction score’ to their shoppers based on their purchase history. They would then use this data to send timely coupons based on which trimester the expecting mother was in at the time. Conceptually, Target would be able to increase revenue by introducing shoppers to products they might not have known about and offering an incentive to purchase.
Video and music streaming platforms such as Netflix and Spotify also provide great examples. Netflix understood the importance of offering a curated list of recommended films and offered a $1 million prize for the best algorithm to predict user ratings for movies. Although they didn’t end up using the winner’s algorithm because of resource constraints, you can still see “Recommended For You” titles when you’re scrolling through the platform.
While it would be almost impossible to generate a unique email for every customer manually, the use of a customer relationship management system (CRM) will allow you to feed information into your email service provider (ESP) to create dynamic emails. Personalizing emails is more than merely using merge tags that replace “[FNAME]” with some information pulled from a column in a spreadsheet - it's about delivering content based on the user’s demographics, psychographics, buying behaviors and more.
Some examples of this kind of personalization include sending special discounts on a customer’s birthday, recommended products based on previous purchases (sound familiar?), reminders to restock a product that is likely to run out and content similar to content the customer previously viewed.
Brands must include the option to unsubscribe to stay compliant with email marketing regulations, but rather than offering an “unsubscribe from all emails” option, brands should provide an option to unsubscribe from specific types of emails such as Promotional, Daily, Weekly, Newsletters, etc. This customization of email preferences means you are more likely to maintain a touchpoint with the customer rather than losing them altogether.
For more email tips, check out: Email Marketing Best Practices
The “Share a Coke” campaign is one of the best examples of personalized packaging considering the global scale of Coca-Cola. This multinational, annual summer campaign stocks bottles that replace the standard packaging with the phrase “Share a Coke with...” followed by 250 of the most common millennial first names along with some other terms such as “BFF,” “Bestie” and “Wingman.” This campaign first launched in Australia in 2011 and was brought to the US in 2014, generating the brand’s first increase in sales in over a decade. As each year passes, Coca-Cola continues to innovate on this campaign to keep customers interested.
Nike’s NikeID service allows customers to personalize and design their own shoes. Different colorways, materials and logos can be interchanged and customized to include initials or numbers so that the user can feel like those shoes were specifically designed for them. This is likely to have increased direct traffic to Nike’s website since customers would have to order through Nike rather than a retailer’s site such as Footlocker or Nordstrom. While Nike hasn’t released any sales figures specifically for the NikeID service, it’s likely to have contributed to the company’s revenue growth.
Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action." In order to provide valuable, relevant, and consistent data to an audience, it only makes sense to treat your audience as individuals rather than a whole. By using engagement data, brands can ensure their content marketing efforts continually deliver content that educates, inspires or entertains their audience.
Hubspot is an excellent example of a brand that creates different formats of content for all the stages of the customer’s journey. They continuously use data to pump out blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers and webinars that they already know their site visitors care about. Additionally, they have a learning hub, Inbound.org, that promotes their certification program. They supplement promoting this program by creating videos optimized for Facebook and LinkedIn to drive their social followers to the site. This well-rounded approach targets different formats at different stages in their customer journey to keep the users coming back “and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
For more tips on content, check out: Content Marketing 101
Rather than thinking about your different customer segments as a group, it pays off to focus your efforts on how to reach individuals creatively as outlined by the examples above. Whether it’s delivering products, websites, content or experiences, take a look at all of the different touchpoints within your customer’s journey and prioritize which of these can be personalized in a meaningful way using a data-driven approach.
Let us know some of your favorite personalized marketing strategies that you’ve come across that aren’t listed above! Tweet us: @gohawke
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David is Hawke Media's Director of Influencer Marketing, leading a team of experts building influencer and social media strategies for clients.