Years ago, when I was new to financial independence, I was browsing on Amazon to purchase a book I wanted (of course).
For reasons I don’t remember, I did not buy it (maybe I must have fallen down or something).
The next day, I was browsing a site for some work, and saw an ad there. The ad was about discounted prices on that book I wanted. Needless to say, this didn’t end there.
For the next few weeks, Amazon kept showing up during my browsing sessions with that book. Of course, I ended up buying it.
That was my first real encounter with personalized marketing. Some might also call it remarketing (retargeting). Well, all of it is correct.
Annoying as it may look like or sound, personalized marketing has taken over the world with experiences and examples to rave about.
And I am going to add one more piece to it with this blog 😁
What is personalized marketing?
Personalized marketing is a type of marketing, and the approach of using customer data to deliver personalized experiences (often recommendations), with an aim to increase brand awareness and sales.
Also known as one-to-one or individualized marketing, this marketing strategy has enabled brands and consumers with better opportunities and experiences.
Examples of personalized marketing
When I first came across this form of marketing, I had limited knowledge and understanding of how these things work.
Not to mention, my naive mind could not comprehend the potential of this. So, let me ease you onto the examples of personalized marketing.
1. Targeted emails
Goes without saying, the emails you and I see in our inbox where our names are mentioned, or product recommendations are shared; are classic examples of personalized marketing.
Now, who wouldn’t want to read emails with their names on them? They are practically letters, or are they? 😉
Next in line for personalized marketing examples are chatbots.
Chatbots on websites and in apps provide a live and interactive experience to the visitors, eventually making their decisions easier and faster.
3. Remarketing ads
The example I shared above, Amazon or any such eCommerce marketplaces leverage this aspect of marketing to the most.
They run ads by retargeting past visitors, reminding them of their choices and preferences, and driving them to make purchases again.
4. Landing pages
Let me quickly explain what landing pages are.
These are web pages where visitors “land” from possibly an advertisement or a post or a piece of information with an aim to understand more about the products or services.
Landing pages are built for conversions, meaning they compel visitors to make an inquiry or fill in a form on that page to explore the offerings better.
Many, many brands customize these landing pages based on queries people search for, or a page they previously visited, or their previous purchases.
This is probably the newest addition to the list.
Visual content is gaining popularity owing to its convenience, easier to pay attention to and minimal efforts as compared to written content.
Lately, brands have been producing customized video contents for their audience to connect with them at a deeper level.
Well, if you ask me, recommendations are an alternate name for personalized marketing.
The product recommendations you see on shopping sites, search engines showing you similar searches – all of it comes under personalized marketing.
7. Personalized messaging
This is essentially the root of this marketing strategy. Each approach or platform you pick has to send out the right message at the right time to the right person with the right personalization.
Promotional messages on WhatsApp, Telegram, Messenger, LinkedIn are examples of personalized marketing.
8. Emotional marketing
I talked about this type of marketing in one of my previous blogs (Read it here).
It is when the marketing approach focuses on triggering emotions and sentiments of fear, anger, love or more, and then converting them into purchase decisions.
Benefits of personalized marketing
As a marketer, and even an entrepreneur, I am often asked this question for various marketing strategies.
What should we do? This or that? If this, for how long and what approach?
For them, here is what I have to say about the advantages of personalized marketing.
1. Your audience receives relevant content
This goes without saying. Because the content you provide is tailored to your audience and their preferences.
This, indirectly, forms a two-way dialog with your audience, rather than one-way, and they get a chance to engage with your brand.
2. Better customer satisfaction and experience
Personalized content leads to better and deeper relationships with your customers. Which gives way to enlightened experiences for them.
And, if the experience exceeds expectations, well, satisfaction is going to be off the charts too.
80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.
3. Audience sees higher value
Certainly, some, even if not all of your audience, will look at the efforts and impact of the personalized approach.
They will see the value behind it, and cherish the fact that you care as a brand.
4. Improved brand loyalty and positioning
Let’s face it. For winning at personalized marketing, you need to win at listening to and understanding your customers.
And if you nail it, I guarantee you are going to have loyal customers for years to come.
Moreover, this approach will improve your brand positioning and put you above other players in the market.
If millennials receive personalized marketing content, their brand loyalty increases by 28% on average.
5. Higher revenue and ROI
Better experiences, happier customers.
And happier customers lead to…… Yes! You got that right. Referrals and word of mouth marketing, which brings in more customers.
You see the cycle? 😄
This improves your revenue generation capabilities and earns higher ROI.
How to build a personalized (one-to-one) marketing strategy?
Now that I have convinced you (hope so) that personalized marketing is for you, let me tell you how to do it.
Step 1: Set your goals
Consider this as a default step for any strategy, any activity, anything you do for your brand.
If you don’t have your goals clear, you are just shooting darts in the dark.
- Should I practice this strategy?
- Are my competitors doing it? If yes, how and what?
- Do I have the energy and resources to invest in this?
- What is my goal? Is it engagement? Or acquisition? Or lead generation?
- What is the timeline?
- What budget do I have to spare?
Each industry responds differently to personalized marketing. So, do your homework well before you take a step.
Step 2: Decide and segment the audience
So, you are going ahead with a personalized marketing strategy? Great.
Now, pay attention to your audience. The types of visitors you get, what kind of products they buy the most or the least, their demographics, age, nationality – anything and everything, segment them and pick one to implement this strategy on.
Before you say that we can do it for everyone, sure, you can. But remember, the more the audience, the more personalization, the more effort you will have to put in.
Are you ready to do that to start with?
Hence, a practical approach to this is to segment your audience, and select one segment to try this strategy out.
Step 3: Listen and understand your customers
Like I told you, personalized marketing only works when you know your audience well. How they search, how they shop, what makes them decide to buy, why don’t they buy – everything.
So, once your audience is chosen, focus on their behavior. Pay close attention to their patterns and preferences. Talk to them, listen to their pain points.
This will give you great insights into their perspectives and state of mind.
Step 4: Monitor and capture their behavior
When I say monitor and capture, I don’t mean to keep an eye on your audience like a hawk. Don’t stalk them, no.
Instead, pay attention to their reactions and behavior, just how you would pay attention to your partner 😀
Capture such details and map a customer journey which later builds their experience with your brand.
Step 5: Anticipate their requirements
Based on the data you have so far, project and anticipate what your audience would be needing.
Where are they facing challenges? How are they solving them?
What is that one want which would convert into need soon? Will they need winter collection clothes? Or summer dresses? If they bought pregnancy products some time ago, maybe they would need baby products soon.
By 2020, just over half (51%) of consumers expected that companies would anticipate their needs and offer relevant suggestions prior to making initial contact.
Just think about your audience, through and through.
Step 6: Pick a personalization moment and approach
In an entire customer journey, there are these moments-that-matter, which ultimately structure the experiences.
These moments are when personalization hits the most (and probably the best). Enlist all these moments for your segmented audience, and decide which moments you want to personalize for them.
And then, the approach you will use for that personalization. Will you go for any of the platforms I mentioned above (examples)? Or can you see another medium to personalize?
Once that is done, you are all set to personalize your brand experiences.
Tools to win at personalized (custom) marketing
Now, with the advent of technology, no marketing strategy or any strategy for that matter can happen without some awesome tools.
They not only drive automation, but simplify these processes that would otherwise take hours and probably days.
Here are some tools that are the key to personalized marketing.
1. Data analysis tools
We have heard that the content is the king. Well, data is no less.
All of the businesses we see today are sitting on heaps of valuable data, assets if you will.
Data analysis tools will help you simplify and make sense of your raw, unadulterated data. In fact, it won’t be too far-fetched to say that they are the base of any personalized marketing strategy.
Apart from Microsoft Excel and Google Spreadsheets, these are the tools to rely on for data analysis:
CRM, or Customer Relationship Management systems help you record customer details and interactions, which enables you to understand them better.
CRM systems act as gateways to better customer satisfaction, tailored experiences and the best of all, access to meaningful data.
We have talked up CRMs and their awesome benefits in a separate article. Mind checking it out?
3. Email marketing software
If not anything else, I absolutely recommend going for targeted emails as a part of your personalized marketing strategy.
They are low-cost, high-value deriving approaches which keep you in your audience’s mind for months.
Here are some email marketing tools you can use:
4. Video recording tool
One more thing I absolutely recommend for personalized marketing is videos. Short, personalized videos can turn out to be more effective and easier than any other piece of content.
You can use applications like:
These tools, especially Loom, have transformed the sphere of video messaging.
If you have not incorporated videos in any part of your brand building strategy, now is the time to do it.
5. Data management system
Before you get confused, data management is not the same as data analysis.
Sure, data analysis can include a few data management aspects and vice versa. But, the more you keep them separate, the better.
Data management tools keep your data clean and organized based on segmentations, demographics and such likes.
Remember SQL we studied in school? We had multiple tables to connect to, and then pull-out information from the database using a string? Yeah, that is the basis of these data management tools.
Some examples of data management systems are:
I am not saying that these tools are a mandate, but your personalized marketing strategy will definitely get better and more effective with them.
The other side of personalized marketing
Since I am someone who likes to be pragmatic when it comes to making decisions and deciding on strategies, it’s only fair that I share the other side of personalized marketing too.
Keeping how beneficial it is aside for a while, let’s talk about the downside of it.
1. Can turn into privacy violation
Because you are dealing with data, and often, personal and sensitive information, it becomes a challenge to draw the line between privacy and necessity.
Not to mention, a part of your audience might find it annoying and creepy that you know their behavior, patterns and preferences.
Compliances like GDPR and personal data protection bills are passed by governments to keep this in check.
2. Hard to find subtlety
With personalized marketing, it is complicated to find and hit the sweet spot of subtlety.
You are playing with fire (read: data). Either it can destroy everything, or it can beautify everything.
Brands practicing this strategy find it the most difficult of the challenges to surpass.
3. Requires more resources
You need people, resources and time to understand your audience and gather information on them. Constant monitoring for days, constant analysis, constant improvements – everything requires more resources.
This, in turn, might increase your overhead expenses.
4. Lack of sync between data and functions
Remember, I talked about moments-that-matter and defining them for personalization?
Well, no matter how well you know your customers and audience, it is of no use if you don’t bring your team up to speed with it.
There has to be a sync, an alignment between the customer data, the customer journey and the contribution of each department to that journey.
Forget achieving that sync, brands are not even able to gauge this gap.
P.S It’s good that TCC is here to help you bring this alignment into your operations.
5. Unable to produce dynamic content
Personalization demands dynamism. You cannot run a one-on-one strategy without producing one-to-one content, at every stage of their journey and interaction.
This requires attention to detail, and a presence of mind that can help you leverage each step.
Often, brands choose not to personalize at each step because of limited resources and bandwidth.
6. You have to be on your toes
Most of the activities in a personalized marketing strategy are unplanned and out of the blue.
You have to be constantly on your toes to find ideas, touch points, messages, and implement them right away. You simply can’t wait for the right time in this.
For those who know, it is not always going to be possible, unless you have a dedicated team for it. Even then, it might take months and years to perfect this strategy.
Personalized marketing is like shaadi ka laddoo. Jo khaaye woh shayad pachtaye, jo naa khaaye woh definitely pachtaye.
You can always put a limit to the extent of personalization you want to do, and test it out on a limited audience.
It is important to be aware of the pros and cons of the approach and make the most of the opportunities available to you.
Over these years, I have seen brands nailing personalized experiences like a pro, and some making me regret engaging with them.
What do you think of personalized marketing? Do you see this strategy in your plans?
Share it in the comments.