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Personalized Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

Holly Pels
Holly Pels , Digital Content Manager , Emarsys

Personalized marketing can be a make or break experience for customers when it comes to your brand standing out from the competition. And with 75% of consumers now expecting personalized communication from brands, it’s also no longer an optional strategy for brands who want to find success in 2018 and beyond.

New to personalized marketing or looking for additional insight for a personalized campaign? In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about creating personalized marketing campaigns.

We’ll address:

What Is Personalized Marketing?

Personalization has become one of the number-one demands from consumers over the past two years. Bland, one-size-fits-all communication no longer cuts it in the eye of your customers. You must turn to personalized marketing to succeed in 2018 and beyond. So what exactly is personalized marketing?

Personalized marketing is the implementation of a strategy that deploys individualized content to contacts through the collection of data, data analysis, and the use of automation technology. The goal of personalized marketing is to drive engagement among your customers or prospective customers by treating them (and communicating with them) like an individual.

Consumers want to be treated like humans. They want brands to know them, know what they like, their preferences, and communicate with them in a way that sets them apart from the masses. Personalized marketing allows companies to do just that.

Why Is Personalized Marketing So Important?

Though it may simply seem like a nice thing to have, personalized marketing has become a must-have for marketers who want to keep customers coming back. With 81% of consumers wanting brands to know them better (and know when and when not to approach them), understanding your customers and marketing to them as individuals has never been more important.

When brands turn to personalized marketing, they’re not only giving consumers what they want, but they’re also setting their business up for success. Using targeted, individualized marketing offers the following benefits:

Understanding Your Visitors Better 

At the core of personalization is data collection. By collecting and analyzing consumer data, you begin to get a picture of who your customers are and what they like. This gives you the opportunity to better understand each visitor and tailor communications directly to them.

Improved Customer Experience

More than half of consumers will give personal information as long as they know a brand will use it to personalize their experience in responsible ways. Consumers want to feel like a brand knows them and they will perceive personalized offers as part of an improved overall experience.

Drive Revenue

78% of U.S. Internet users said personally relevant content from brands increases their purchase intent. Customers that see personalized offers are more likely to purchase from you, meaning personalized marketing can drive higher revenue for your brand.

Increase Brand Loyalty

Adding personalization to the customer lifecycle creates a frictionless experience for them. From initial browsing to post-purchase, personalization improves the experience for customers and makes them want to purchase from you in the future. After all, you understand them as buyers and treat them like individuals – not merely members of a larger segment.

Create Consistency Across Channels

Personalized marketing means better control over the messages sent to each contact across each channel. This is important because consumers want to see consistency across channels, and when you are tailoring messages specifically to individuals, this becomes a seamless part of the strategy.

Three Essential Elements of Personalization 

When planning to incorporate personalization into your strategy, it’s important to understand the following three core elements and how they can be applied to your marketing efforts.

1. Capture

Data collection is the first step you must take before you can begin any type of personalization. Without customer data, you will have nothing to learn from and deliver more personalized offers. Outside of purchases, you can collect customer data by offering a welcome coupon in exchange for an email submission or letting your SMS subscribers be the first to know about exclusive deals. Whatever way you collect data from your customers, it’s important to continue to get to know them better with every interaction.

2. Analyze

Analyzing data is essential to planning a personalized strategy. You must understand the behaviors of your customers before you can send them offers that will resonate with them on a personal level. For marketers, this is a complicated task. With endless channels and data points, it can seem impossible to glean insights from the massive amounts of information that exist about every customer. It’s important to have technology that helps analyze the data and offer you a clear picture of each of your customers.

3. Act

Once you have data collected and analyzed, it’s time to start using it to deliver personalized content to your contacts. Personalization should move beyond “Hi [First Name],” and offer truly personalized recommendations based on past behavior. Those can be in the form of product recommendations or individualized incentives. Using AI-enabled technology can also help you populate these recommendations within the email you are creating, making personalization an easy add to any interaction.

Tips for Creating a Successful Personalized Marketing Campaign 

At this point, you may be excited at the thought of driving truly personalized interactions with your customers, but you also may be wondering how exactly to get started. Here are some ways to leverage personalization as part of a new or existing campaign.

Upgrade Your Technology

As stated above, having the right technology in place is a crucial part of executing this strategy successfully. While many point solutions will help add personalized touches to single specific pieces of your strategy, not every marketing techonogy solution can execute a true one-to-one personalized strategy.

Human-driven personalization doesn’t scale because there are too many solutions and too much data for one marketer to collect, analyze, and execute on. Take a hard look at the solution you have in place and ask yourself if it allows you to execute truly personalized interactions. If not, it’s time to look into a new solution.

Impact the Entire Customer Lifecycle

It may be tempting to focus your personalization efforts on just one aspect of the customer journey, but incorporating personalization throughout the lifecycle of your customers increases your chances of conversion. The more tailored and personalized the experiences, the more inclined customers are to buy.

Consider mapping out your customer lifecycle strategy. What actions and behaviors warrant an email or an SMS message? Identify which messages can have the greatest impact and add a layer of personalization to them first. Do you have a high abandon cart rate? Try sending a personalized email a few hours after a contact abandons a cart, you’ll be amazed at the results.

Personalized Product Recommendations

One way you can immediately impact your current strategies is by adding personalized product recommendations. Whether email, SMS, or on the web, showing products that are tailored to individuals is a great way to offer a relatively easy touch of personalization. As long as you’re collecting browse and purchase behavior for your contacts, you should be able to populate products similar to those they’ve already indicated they like.

Individualized Incentive Recommendations

Incentives are a great way to entice a customer to purchase, but what if you could give personalized incentives based on an individual. After all, not everyone will get excited about a 10% off coupon; some buyers are more interested in getting free shipping. Adding an individualized incentive to promotions not only makes the customer happy, but it can also save you from offering blanketed offers that can hurt your bottom line.

Related Article: Infographic: Leveraging Customer Data for Personalized Interactions

Applying Personalization on Your Website 

When thinking about personalization, it’s important that your strategy extend across channels to ensure maximum success — one of the most important channels being your website. Your website is most often the first impression your visitors will have of your brand and continues to be a driving factor for purchases and capturing attention long after that introduction. Using historical data to personalize experiences creates a way to nurture and engage customers from your website.

Here’s how to create a website personalization strategy that will improve customer experiences.

Location, Location, Location

Location data continues to grow in importance for marketers. Even Google has updated its algorithm to accommodate location-based data in searches. Where a person is has become a key indicator of who she is.

For marketers, it’s important to make sure you take a person’s location into account when they visit your website. This can come in the form of tailoring content and incentives to the time zone or the geographical location of the visitor. You can also drive cross-channel initiatives by pulling up the closest store to them and displaying it directly on the homepage in case they want to try something on in-store.

Browse Behavior Personalization

What better way to capture a customer’s attention than by reminding them of the products they’ve already been browsing – and other similar items they might also like? Personalization using browse behavior can bring a customer back to a product or content that they were interested in but didn’t purchase.

When customers visit and browse your website, that is data gold that can be used to entice them to purchase in the future. Personalize their next visit by adding a widget to your homepage that will pull in products last seen. This way as soon as contacts return, they are greeted with an individualized message.

Predictive Recommendations

Product recommendations are a common strategy across many channels. Whether in transactional emails or in-app browsing, recommendation engines are a tried and true practice across many e-commerce brands.

Use browse and purchase behavior to feed the recommendation engine on different product pages. As a customer browses through products, the engine gets smarter and can start to predict “You may also like” suggestions that warrant clicks and conversions.

Related Article: 3 Powerful Website Personalization Examples That Will Instantly Boost Conversions

5 Real-World Examples of Personalized Marketing Campaigns

Personalization continues to gain steam among brands. In fact, you probably have several examples of successful personalized campaigns sitting in your inbox right now. Just in case you need a few more, here are a few examples of particularly well-executed personalized marketing campaigns.

1. Abandoned Shopping Cart Emails 

Abandoned cart emails are trigged after a user leaves a product in their cart for an extended period of time. These triggered emails can offer a frictionless experience for completing the purchase. Plus they are also a great way to offer additional products that a contact may be interested in.

After a cart is abandoned, consider sending the email within 3 hours. Studies show that when these emails are sent in that timeframe, they get an average 40% open rate and a 20% click-through rate, increasing their chances of conversion.

2. Continue Your Search

As mentioned above, web personalization is becoming increasingly important, and “Continue your search” campaigns are a great example of a personalized web experience.

When searching for something on a site, a user may abandon the search and return a few days later. Whether they are looking for a specific product, piece of content, or travel accommodations, websites can offer a “continue your search” or “pick up where you left off” option. Brands that do this are more successful at prompting contacts to jump back in and make a frictionless purchase.

3. Product Recommendations

Most e-commerce sites offer recommended products in the form of pre-selected products. But these product recommendations are one-size-fits-all and generally unappealing.

But by using the data from individual customers’ shopping behavior, you can recommend personalized product picks that speak directly to them. Whether they are products they’ve viewed in the past or recommendations based on their purchase history, recommendations tailored to the individual are more prone to drive clicks and, in the end, purchases.

4. Personalized Incentives

The benefits of personalized incentives are two-fold. Not only are you giving a customer exactly what she needs to convert, but you’re preventing a mass send of a revenue-curbing 20% off coupon to all of your contacts. Incentives, whether free shipping or a coupon, are an effective method of bringing conversions and driving revenue into your business by keeping you within your margins.

5. Location-based Emails

Location data is becoming more and more important to marketers. Consumers now expect brands to understand not only who they are, but where they are. As a marketer, you can use this to your advantage.

Personalize your marketing communications with location-based data. Send out events that are “near” your contacts or offer them travel deals from their location. Both of these examples offer a way to show contacts that you only want to send them information that is pertinent to them and improves their overall experience with your brand.

Personalized Marketing Trends to Watch for

Year after year, consumers become more savvy and their expectations continue to rise. And as a marketer, you continue to pivot your strategy to meet the high demands. With 65% of consumers saying they are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t personalize communication with them, it’s as important as ever to get serious about a personalized marketing strategy.

As personalization has grown in popularity, so have the trends that go along with it and they show no signs of stopping in 2018 and beyond. Here are 3 personalized marketing trends you can expect to see grow in the next year.

1. AI Marketing

Artificial intelligence marketing is one of the most anticipated digital marketing innovations in history. And it will continue to gain steam among marketers in the coming years.

AI-enabled personalization will set brands apart from their competitors by enabling truly personalized one-to-one communication. By allowing the machine to analyze the massive amounts of data from all of your marketing channels, you can return your focus to planning the strategy and personalized content that will win your customers’ loyalty.

2. Omnichannel Personalization

Creating a seamless, omnichannel experience across your brand is a top priority. But what about making sure each channel offers some form of personalization?

As the expectations for personalization increase, brands will must map personalization through their customer journey across all channels. Brands that master this strategy will continue to increase customer retention and loyalty across channels.

3. Web Personalization

Brands will continue to ramp up their personalization efforts on their websites. From embedded personalized content to chat bots, personalization on websites will become a leading way for brands to convert customers.

Preparing for the Future of Personalization 

The pace of change within digital marketing is faster than ever before. As marketers, you must find a way to keep up with the increasing demands of consumers and stay ahead of the coming changes. Here are 3 ways to set your brand up for success in the future.

Invest in Data-Driven Technology

It’s no longer an option to include personalization in your marketing communications. You must provide tailored, individualized content to your contacts or risk losing them to the competition. For many marketers, this means ditching your existing technology for a solution that is data-driven and forward-thinking.

Be Mindful of Your Data

With more data comes more responsibility. With the addition of the EU’s GDPR and other data regulations around the world, marketers must be more mindful than ever of how they are using and storing customer data. Make sure you are getting consent from your contacts to market to them in the future. Consider implementing double opt-ins as a way to safeguard your brand. After all, you’ll be more successful in the future with contacts who want to hear from you than with those who don’t.

Commit to Omnichannel Excellence

Perfecting your omnichannel marketing strategy will only solidify your future success. Well planned strategies create a seamless experience for each customer across channels. They provide a solid foundation that marketers should continuously strive to master. Perfecting omnichannel will make the implementation of personalization and other trends coming in the future seamless.

Final Thoughts

As technology continues to evolve, so will consumers and their expectations. Personalized experiences will be on the forefront of those evolving expectations.

Without implementing personalized marketing into your strategy, your marketing efforts will fall flat with current and prospective customers. You can send communications to your contacts, but if they don’t engage with your messages, they won’t purchase from you and you’ll lose out on valuable revenue.

Personalized marketing allows you to drive engagement and purchases by treating your contacts like individuals with one-to-one personalized communications.

Learn how Emarsys can help drive your marketing campaigns, and visit our personalization page to learn more!