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The Future of Personalization

The Future of Personalization in Digital Marketing

It was only a few decades ago when the terms “sales and marketing” carried quite the negative connotation—namely, associations to telemarketers, annoying television adverts, random pop-ups or flashy content plastered on every visible media and communications outlet discernible. Consumers rejected or hated the majority of ads and marketing elements that firms used, as they would often be intrusive and shallow—reducing individuals down to a statistic or “lead”.

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Making consumers and potential customers feel important and valued is one of many fundamental ideologies within any business; ironically, however, most traditional marketing methods turn a blind eye to this crucial facet. The very basis of business—people—was quickly being forgone in favor of profits and sales. Eventually, consumers got really tired of companies not listening to them. Repeatedly throwing meaningless ads at individuals who didn’t even care for the product or service, and eventually they tuned out altogether.

Think about it: in the very instantaneous world we function in, shoppers loathe wasting time…and there’s only one thing they despise more—realizing that they aren’t valued as individuals. After all, don’t we all hate the feeling of being some number at the bottom of a sales chain, or being ignored when we express our desires, wants or needs?

Marketing personalization and performing business on a more intimate level with your most valuable asset—your audience—has undeniably evolved to the forefront of any marketing stack. Business owners, high level execs and CEOs pay more and more attention to how their customers respond, when and where they purchase, the medium through which they browse and touchpoints at which brands can subtly interact and boost conversions by creating a more relevant conversation between them and their audience segments.

Huge campaigns with wide nets of cookie-cutter content being cast randomly to earn small numbers of customers certainly wasn’t working anymore. Research revealed that over 63% of polled consumers are highly annoyed with the way brands blast generic messages.

On the flipside, Epsilon reported a survey of 1,000 consumers within the 18-64-year-old age range indicating that 80% said they are more likely to do business with a brand if the experience is personalized, and 90% claiming they found personalized marketing appealing. Over half of them even admitted they would even disclose personal information to these firms, as long as the outcome benefits them!

At this point, the general notion is that old-school marketing tricks are indeed that—old-school, and a thing of the past. As consumers are getting smarter, businesses must do the same to remain several steps ahead. Traditional marketing campaigns failed due to the negligence in regarding user behavior and preference-based online interaction. As a result, it’s no surprise when 94% of businesses now view personalization and a key ingredient to success.

However, implementing personalized marketing is no easy feat—nor an overnight endeavor. One must develop a process by which he/she can attain a complex understanding of their clients, figure out what customers really want, how they can most efficiently provide it to them with the heaviest ROI, and flexibly realign the overall marketing infrastructure accordingly—often in realtime!

Onboarding a more personalized marketing strategy requires immense planning, strategic thinking and oversight, deep analytical insight/oversight, alongside a steadily-maintained brand image. A company should be functional excluding personalization, and have all the other necessary, boring overhead procedures down on lock. Otherwise, it’s a recipe for disaster and could end up burning up valuable resources, time, investment, and market share.

Instapage reported data from a McKinsey research study on personalization, revealing that while personalization can reduce acquisition costs up to 50%, boost revenue by 5-15% and increase marketing spend by 10-30%, incorrectly designed marketing campaigns with irrelevant content can plummet response rates by downwards of 83% in just an average campaign. .ME jokes, “It requires as much attention and planning as a long-term relationship.” Truer words have never been spoken!

Now, we must delve into several important topics in order to fully interpret the scale at which personalized marketing can potentially operate, the individual parameters that one can readjust to bolster profits, and forge a company-customer relationship stronger than before.

Before that can happen though, we must understand what personalized marketing actually is, how to implement it, where to find the kind of data and resources to best outfit your brand’s goals and objectives, and when all of the important steps to the process must take place in order to effectively utilize personalization to its fullest potential. 

WHAT IS MARKETING PERSONALIZATION, HOW DOES IT WORK, AND HOW CAN IT BENEFIT MY COMPANY?

Personalized marketing, or personalization, is the practice of using user data to deliver brand messages targeted to individual prospects by creating major buyer profiles, or segments, for companies to better know their buyers. This method of marketing aids brands in understanding who exactly their buyers are, the ways and outlets they prefer to connect or engage on (social networks, brick-and-mortar, websites, emails) and subsequently how to communicate across to them, and of course—what they think about your product or service.

Personalization marketing specifically focuses more on the personality side of customers, with each marketing persona representing chunks of users within your databases. These databases should contain habits, preferences, typical problems needing resolution, and are developed on a level playing field with the customer. Speak in their jargon, relate to them and you’ll avoid the one-size-fits-all pitfall that ad campaigns have been painfully executing forever. 

The benefits of personalized marketing are vast and rewarding, if done correctly. After realizing the company-specific strategies needed, analyzing available consumer behavior data to make logical deductions, and realigning marketing approaches to best fit the customer rather than the product or profit margin, you’ll see a number of things happen.

Your customer will receive much more relevant content, firstly. Customers don’t necessarily hate advertising, actually—they hate bad advertising. They dislike irrelevant brand messages. Since personalization is just that—personalized—it’s inherently founded off of past behavior and digital footprints that the consumer has already produced. It would only make sense that a customer would be more receptive to things you know that they know they like!

People are always distracted when buying—its never truly a straightforward process, with phone calls, people talking to them, or other errands or tasks coming up sporadically. As such, people tend to forget or may put off purchases from your brand—but that doesnt mean you must lose their business! The smart (yet not overzealous) marketer can draw from user history data to remind customers of their previous online engagements. Data shows that, to a certain threshold, the more you “remarket” a product, the more likely a potential lead will turn into a conversion.

Simply reminding them in an email with what is essentially “Hey, don’t forget, you were looking at this earlier, maybe you’re more ready to buy it now,” can combat creepy ad styles and build a higher level of trust and appreciation with your user base. Getting your customer the information they need, when they need it, can yield powerful results that can drive your brand’s reputation and success with any and every lead. Customers are tired—they just want businesses to listen to them and they’ll work with you!

UNDERSTANDING YOUR AUDIENCE

Previously, companies would rely on antiquated and literal methods of marketing—billboards, cold calls, flyers or posters, and so on. These methods were thrown out at massive pools of people with little to no information on the audiences they targeted, or they likelihood of any of them actually getting interested.

And even when people purchased or hired a product or service, there was no real way to ascertain the thought process the customer went through, other options they make have considered, and the timing within it all. As time passed, analytical information became readily available through the integration of technology with modern marketing concepts. Analytics became increasingly sophisticated and the types and amounts of data on any one person grew vastly.

Now, marketers can wield the power of deep data over thousands—no, millions of individuals, alongside comprehensive breakdowns of their preferences and buying styles to create marketing profiles or buyer segments, use their customers’ own online history to align their company’s functions alongside (and later ahead of) that of their key buyers’ buying process, and use powerful algorithms to eventually make realtime decisions for whether or not to show a relevant piece of content based off explicitly detailed timing and predictive analyses.

By segmenting the massive pool of users they draw from, companies can also foster closer bonds with individual people and enhance their online experiences as well. They do this by drawing from the real data created by these customers as a result of the simplest things—clicking on ad posts, visiting sites and browsing through catalogues, or even physically going somewhere! There’s information to be mined everywhere, and info is ammo for the clever social media marketer.

The key is knowing where to look, the tools necessary to extract that type of complex data, and the ways to interpret and digest this information in a coherent way that can yield powerful logistical direction for you and your brand. All this sounds intense, right? The good news is, it’s not as hard as you may think to implement these tools and techniques within your own business, and we at HVMA are here to give you a solid understanding of how you can wield that very power for yourself soon enough! 

HOW TO FUEL THE PERSONALIZATION ENGINE

We’ve learned so far what personalization means in the modern marketing world and how it provides significance to businesses of any kind in any industry. After all, every businesses focus on one thing at the core—people. Whether you’re selling indirectly as a wholesaler, catering to individuals one-on-one to provide for a specific need or using large scale e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon, at the end of the day, people are your most crucial resource to draw from, and therefore, should be treated as such!

There are three main focuses when approaching personalized marketing and understanding the kind of data needed, consumer behavior and in-depth segmentation, methods to reshaping your own company accordingly and planning for the future.

The first is knowing the customer’s needs. Every customer almost expects companies to know what they want or need instantly—almost before they themselves even know! Typing a google search should spit out an immediate answer formatted exactly as they want. A retail store should absolutely have information on a specific item they need.

Asking yourself “What does the customer really want? How would I act/react in this situation, and what am I looking for?” are the best angles through which the modern digital marketer can think like their buyers. Using surveys, user testing or even promotional campaigns to capture powerful data sets are easy ways to procure this type of information. 

This segues us into the next step—understanding who they are, their history and what they do, and where they perform these actions…what channel? What device? In person, or strictly online? Instapage reflects on one of the major inhibitors to a solid customer-business relationship; siloed communication. This is usually expressed in the form of a customer receiving a time and date coordinated for a demo, yet still receiving an email for a demo sign up…confusing isn’t it?

What about when you download an e-book from an online influencer and tutor, but then…get a Facebook message from his brand goading you into downloading the same e-book. Another bad user experience! A strong personalization strategy encompasses every widely used device in the current market, and the popular online channels within which most users reside—and unknowingly create vast heaps of data!

The third and most reactive stage deals with anticipating future customer needs and acting accordingly. If you have the power of personal details and browsing information on your side, you also wield the power of prediction. Companies don’t just stop at providing a singular service anymore—taking a site like Expedia into account, they provide flights and travel options as a base service type alongside a variety of peripherals. Booking a hotel, travel insurance, tourist spots and the like are all included to maximize value for their product/service!

Think about what add-ons or tiered packages your customer may want. Use data to gain insight on what they prefer, and build accordingly. Send them valuable content that may spark interest or further their own personal goals and fulfill needs—ebooks, blogs, podcasts, and videos can all be useful assets to both customers as resources, and to companies as creative projects whose investment may return favorably. 

THE TOOLS YOU WILL NEED

One of the biggest challenges with personalization is the scale. Of course, scaling can go both ways—on a larger segmented basis, or literally targeting every single buyer! Now, nobody has time to manually create an email for every John and Sarah, or develop ads for each individual prospect online. However, as far as customers know, you should—and can do that. And to maintain that appearance, and it will require the right digital tools.

One major necessary tool in your arsenal would be an analytics platform. Besides—how else will you draw your data? Platforms such as Google Analytics provide companies a self-contained infrastructure within which vast quantities of quality data can be procured.

The important type of data, too—behavioral, which tells you exactly what consumers are up to when they’re online or moving about a store, the touchpoints where they engage and the very pertinent information one can glean from these minute interactions. Think about it—if subtle body language can be so telling about a person, imagine what subconsciously purposeful actions can communicate! 

The second aspect would be a data management platform, which sounds similar to but is different from the analytics platform. This one will hold audience and campaign data from sources directly involved with the ad buying process from your end.

They aren’t just analytical information sets from random online consumer meanderings, but rather directly invoked data from the very campaigns being run. It’s essentially a one-stop shop where marketers can manage user data, develop target segments and ultimately understand their audience better.

This information is more geared to intaking age, household income, browsing habits, purchase behavior, demographic information, location, device or platform being used, and more. Your platform intakes this information, matches it against the segments’ performance and details out future improvements and actions that can be taken.

The third aspect of your marketing technology stack would be the CRM, or customer relationship management software. As you can imagine, the aptly-named software type does just that! Anything learned about prospects from lead capture forms, calls, or other data is logged and updated regularly. When integrated with the rest of the marketing scheme, it allows other tools to feed it information (such as the analytics or data management platforms!) and ultimately generate content at the highest caliber of personalization.

TOP PERSONALIZED MARKETING OUTLETS AND THE PROCESS

 After having understood what personalized marketing is, where to find the kind of information relevant to this method of modern marketing as well as understanding your audience, and finally the tools needed to obtain this user data, we’ve reached the final important aspect to the personalization process—the very outlets and channels through which you will actually market!

One of the largest, most widely used and most effective platforms to-date that marketers utilize to incite conversations with potential customers is email marketing. This form of communication provides a powerful gateway to help progress customers to the next stage of the sales funnel! Email marketing platforms such as MailChimp are staples of most marketing plans, as it reigns as the number one most profitable platform for businesses.

Considering how easily emails can be obtained or offered by prospects, as they are the method by which most people prefer to be contacted, getting people to open your emails really just comes down to personalizing it! Implementing concepts such as dynamic content into email can fulfill consumers’ aptitude towards emails that appear made for them, or customized (personalized!) in their favor.

Creating behavioral triggers, such as shooting them an email after a download or backlink is activated, or even a warm birthday email with a simple message and provided value can persuade customers to trust and appreciate brands who treat them like the humans they are, over the money in their pocket.

Another major avenue for marketers to push personalized content through lies within the keystone to any great marketing stack—and the fourth piece to the 3-tier platform system mentioned earlier. This tool is pretty straightforward, and plays right off of the email marketing campaigns we just discussed—targeted landing pages! After reeling a customer in through properly designed email campaigns, a user may develop an interest in your brand or product and click the email.

Here is where one of the most crucial stages lies—taking personalization one step further and creating targeted landing pages for your company’s offerings, with customized branding elements, linguistics and diction tailored to the consumer, and messages that are coherent and relevant to each user based on their location, preferences or needs. This can often be enhanced with dynamic content, which uses the aforementioned persona-based buyer segments stenciled from historical user data.

Remember—when creating a relevant targeted landing page system, every campaigns ad and post-click page must match up aesthetically and comprehensively. Headlines, visual elements, logos, colors must all unify the overall message and pipeline through which a customer can make sense of the value provided. This subsequently allows marketers to perform robustly quick glances into viewer engagement, and present your brand in a trustworthy manner in the face of various audience typecasts.

Then of course, social media marketing imbued with deep personalized elements remains a staple in any modern marketing solution set. Today, context and relevance are top priorities in a marketing approach, and consumers just love to browse, research and ponder their wishlists on social channels! Leaving comments, liking posts, saving images, messaging brand pages about product availability or any similar action taken are abundant methods by which users leave digital footprints and valuable data nuggets.

These activities directly reflect upon the customer’s pathway towards fulfilling a necessity or obtaining a solution. As a result, companies must stay on top of speedy response rates, replying to inquiries and managing comment sections, tracking social media activity, engagements and interactions and tweaking the great machine of sponsored ads that Facebook offers.

Combining user data with native application widgets, such as Facebook’s event pages, Twitter’s trending bar or Instagram’s slider feature, enables brands to harvest useful information that can be fed into powerful retargeting utilities such as Facebook Pixel. Companies can take their cream-of-the-crop customer segments and reinvest the data to draw out more consumers just like them! This helps hone a deeper, more pleasurable connection between your brand and the customers who love staying loyal to you. 

MOVING FORWARD INTO THE FUTURE

Personalized marketing has deepened and expanded beyond the reaches of the digital landscape and permeated companies’ understanding and prioritization of customers as much as customers’ appreciation towards those brands that listen to them. Today, modern marketers cannot afford wide angle, low-yield approaches towards user bases that reject traditional marketing styles. Instead, embracing this wave of customer-first oriented  business can help establish stronger relationships between the supply side and demand side.

Focusing on timeliness, a deep-seated comprehension of users and their behaviors/needs, recycling this data and developing germane marketing campaigns that actually know where they’re headed is the future. If you want to keep users happy and on your side, show them you care about their time and personal choices by designing marketing plans templated off of individual behavior patterns. Send personalized marketing emails at the right timeframes, learn what works and what users are receptive to.

After collecting data and restructuring your marketing process accordingly, automate them with AI algorithms that can parse through and make sense of immersive heaps of data. This can boost open rates by 30% and click-through rates by over 40%, as marketing firm Experian found in their own email marketing endeavors.

 Through engaging your company with a more modern, customer-first approach, brands may breed stronger loyalty and draw more conversions as your customer acquisitions processes become more robust and efficient.

By removing obstacles and dried up channels in your marketing pipeline, your sales funnel and marketing team can garner cleaner information that provide clearer insights into customersbehaviors, decisions, personal tastes or dislikes, and build a relationship with them encompassing the two most valuable aspects of such a bond—trust and relevance. The way to do that? Work off of whats right in front of you!

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