By Maria Harrison, President, Bullseye Strategy
“Personalization” may be the biggest marketing buzzword of 2018, but there’s a fine line between providing your customers with highly-relevant marketing and over-stepping.
Save being “creepy” for spider webs and haunted houses and give your customers a little breathing room. Follow these tips to create marketing that tells your customers you understand their needs – but you’re not stalking their every move.
Challenges of Personalized Marketing in the Digital Space
Tailoring messages is the “great pumpkin”mystery of marketing: consumers practically demand relevant, timely product information, while simultaneously clicking the “x” when a pop-up box appears during online shopping. Is it possible to conquer this great divide? Yes, it is.
But that doesn’t mean implementing a personalized marketing communications program is simple. It involves studying analytics and trends, testing keywords, establishing goals, and then matching data results with corresponding target audiences.
On the surface, it looks easy, but underneath there is a lot of work.
How do companies – small, medium, and large – overcome these barriers to win the conversion battle? They join forces with a marketing partner that generates results, not restraining orders.
Meeting Customers at the Data Threshold
First Data, a long-time participant in the data-gathering industry, produced a study in July 2018 citing consumer trust in retailers. The numbers are bleak. Only 8% of respondents said they trust stores with their data. In-person shoppers favor cash over credit to avoid potential fraud.
Another study from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) conducted by The Harris Poll delivered grim results as well: “Of the 7,579 internet users surveyed in the US and Western Europe, nearly 80% said that wherever possible, they try to limit the amount of personal information they share with companies.”
What’s interesting is that subscription and convenience shopping – accessory box delivery, Netflix, Amazon, etc. – are still thriving in the face of buyer beware statistics. Volumes of data direct these seller’s products. The questionnaire for beauty subscriptions is lengthy; customers freely admit whether their skin is “crepey” or “oily.”
What information wouldn’t we share if it meant finally finding the right shade of lipstick?
No one bats an eyelash when encountered by those “buyers who looked at this also bought ___” ads anymore. And if you’re a TV binge-watcher, you’re more likely to be annoyed when a new series that doesn’t fit your interests is targeted to you than by the fact that the majority of the time, Netflix can eerily predict exactly which show you want to watch next.
Why don’t consumers consider this lane of the personalization market creepy? These sellers meet consumers at their data threshold without crossing into stalker territory.
What is Personalized Marketing for “Real People?”
Successful personalized marketing campaigns are not exclusive to giant corporations with limitless budgets or beauty box start-ups. The use of powerful computer software and an experienced marketing agency can yield positive, tangible investment returns.
To quote RR Donnelley’s The Personalization Plunge: “Personalized marketing means one-to-one marketing in the truest sense: one brand speaking directly to one customer.”
Here are the fundamentals:
- Segment your audience. Who are they, where are they, and how can your product/service make their lives better? This is where demographics and analytics come in handy. Segmentation is also where the “creepy” side of personalized marketing comes into play. Yes, knowing the basics help match products to consumers, but don’t go overboard. Stay top of mind and out of the junk bin.
- Understand where they are in the buyer journey. Personalization also corresponds with good timing. Buyers who are in the research stage of a purchase will not respond well to a BUY NOW message sent from a website landing page. Create website content that answers questions, gives financial incentives, or says thank you based on historical data.
- Establish trust. By asking for relevant information, not a full medical history, data collectors can acquire what they need without coming across as invasive. A good read is RRD’s Your Mass Marketing Campaigns Aren’t Enough: 5 Ways for Marketers to Take Personalization in Retail to the Next Level, particularly this insight: “…questions about product preferences or notifications preferences if/when items go on sale are more valuable to understand your customers’ wants and needs.”
- Utilize multiple marketing channels. Spread the content around to enhance the personalization experience. Take the segmentation/buyer journey data and apply it to personalized email marketing as well as social, website, even print campaigns. But also double-down on dynamic content; look at ways to include video in each channel, especially when explaining product benefits or technical functions. “…with video, digital business strategy professionals have a powerful tool they can use to provide a great customer experience (CX).” – Nick Barber, Ian Jacobs with Stephen Powers, Sarah Dawson, Personalized Video Creates Better Customer Service Experiences