When marketing to customers, it’s important to respond to their specific interests and needs. But, when your target audience is thousands of people or more, that approach can only take you so far. Your content by definition must be fairly generic. You’ll hit the mark with some people, but completely miss it with others.
Personalized marketing is the process of interacting with customers and prospects with a granular understanding of who they are and what they need. This highly specific form of marketing is made possible with modern data analytics, which can incorporate a customer’s past purchases, location, age, occupation, and other factors to create campaigns personalized precisely to them.
With this form of marketing, you’re much more likely to entice customers to make a purchase. It’s different from what you might be used to, so here we explain why it’s worth it, and offer specific steps you can take to make personalized marketing work for your business.
Benefits of Personalized Marketing
Personalized marketing can help build your business in several important ways.
- Increased consistency across channels. Customer demands are evolving and one of the things they want now is the ability to pick up on one channel (such as your website) where they left off on another (such as your physical store). Such fluidity enables them to find you exactly where and when they need you.
- Improved customer experience. Based on this consistency in messaging, along with targeted product recommendations and superb customer care, customers will maintain a positive impression of your brand.
- Increased loyalty. That positive impression will prompt them to return again and again, possibly for life. They will also tell others about you and may even become brand advocates — those who publicly sing your praises without any prompting from you.
- Decreased sales cycle. When you make it easy for customers to shop, help them find what they need, treat them with care, and gain their trust, it takes less time to make sales, meaning you can focus less on the arduous task of convincing them to engage with you and more time on enhancing the customer experience.
- Increased revenue. Loyal customers spend more each time they make a purchase and shop more frequently. They also send more new customers your way. All these factors add up to an increase in revenue.
The Importance of Data
The key to unlocking these benefits is data because it informs the content you’ll use in personalized marketing campaigns. Data can come from many sources, including your CRM, email marketing tools, or other channels within and outside of your company.
Data analysis is a complex topic that is beyond the scope of this post. But it’s important to remember that the quality of your data will heavily impact the quality of the analysis. Consult with your company’s IT specialist, or hire a consultant to ensure you’re getting this part of the process right.
Segment Your Customers
Armed with granular data, you can segment your customers into very small groups that are likely to respond to certain messages, based on similar interests and preferences. Personalized marketing emails, for example, receive considerably higher open and click-through rates than those that don’t contain segmented content.
Consider, for instance, an email sent to all customers with the subject line, “Sweaters on sale!” versus a more personalized one with the subject line, “On sale! Light sweaters in your favorite earth tones!” By sending the second message instead of the first, you’ve instantly increased the interest factor for those who have already purchased similar items. By incorporating weather data from specific zip codes, you could even customize for real-time conditions, such as, “Looking for the perfect jacket for today’s clouds and rain?”
One way to create permanent segments is to develop personas, which are composite characters based on subsets of customers. For example, you could create Gina, a 40-something professional who loves cats and crafting or James, a 30-something dad of three who loves fishing. As a retailer, you would create vastly different campaigns for customers who fit the Gina persona and the James one. B2B companies can do the same thing with specific types of businesses they want to sell to.
Save Time With Automation
Once you have used analytics software to sort out your target groups, you can use another powerful modern technology, automation, to help you send the right messages to the right people. But what does this operation look like? It could be anyone or more of the following strategies:
- Email. You can set up a marketing platform to start an email stream when someone signs up to receive your newsletter. The first one will be general, pointing to various sections of your website, for example. The next will depend on what each customer does. Selecting a specific link will put them on track to receive a new, more targeted stream, which will offer still more link options, and so on.
The following video explains more about personalized email marketing:
- Product recommendations. Within your website, you can create a feature to generate product recommendations based on browsing and buying history. You can also provide a “did you forget” function that features regular purchases that aren’t in the current basket, or items typically bought with items in the current basket. Amazon is a good example of a company that successfully implements both of these functions.
- Blog topics. You can automatically arrange your blog posts by topic according to your personas or other groups. For example, a commerce site for foodies might want to categorize its blog according to dinner parties, weeknight dinners, cocktail hours, and other categories customers are likely to return to, based on past purchases and other information.
- Discount codes. A discount code delivered at just the right time can be exactly what prompts a customer to buy. You can set an automated process to determine typical times between purchases and other habits, and base the delivery of discount codes on those factors.
Make Personalized Marketing Work for Your Business
There’s no magic formula to make personalized marketing work for every business. You’ll need to experiment to find what works for your customers, and may even get complaints at first about privacy concerns. But continuing to make your marketing more personal will ultimately help you gain more sales and a reputation as a company that offers customers a frictionless experience.