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What Is Personalized Marketing?

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Global Head of Content , Emarsys

Personalized marketing (or one-to-one marketing) can be defined in a number of ways, but at the most basic level, it can be explained as follows:

Personalized marketing is the implementation of a strategy by which companies deliver individualized content to recipients through data collection, analysis, and the use of automation technology.

The goal of personalized marketing is to truly engage customers or prospective customers by communicating with each as an individual.

You’re right, this all sounds impossible. To help break down personalized marketing and provide more clarity around the term, we’ve outlined below the benefits, challenges, frequently asked questions, and Emarsys resources on the topic.

The Benefits of Personalized Marketing

There are numerous advantages of personalized marketing, for both businesses and consumers. When strategies are implemented successfully, the following benefits come into play:

  • Improved Customer Experience: Customers are more comfortable providing personal information to their favorite brands if they get something in return. They fill out forms, download whitepapers, participate in surveys to get discounts, and indicate their favorite purchases or preferences. So, what’s the catch? With all of this customer data being offered, the consumer expects brands to protect any sensitive information and offer more personalized experiences when they come back.
  • Drive Revenue: By identifying and responding to the preferred channel for each customer, companies can increase ROI. With the right automation technology, marketers can identify which channel customers engage with, then automatically follow up across channels as part of an omnichannel approach.
  • Increase Brand Loyalty: When consumers provide information and data, they expect to be treated as unique individuals with specific preferences. Businesses that dedicate time and resources to implement successful personalized marketing strategies will benefit from a competitive advantage in both brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
  • Create Consistency Across Channels: Consumers are interacting with brands across a number of channels, including email, social, mobile, etc., sometimes all in a single day. For this reason, it’s more important than ever for brands to create consistency across various channels. The in-store experience should match the app experience, which should match email messaging. You get the point.

Challenges of Personalized Marketing

Like all marketing strategies, there are challenges that arise when it comes to personalized marketing. Let’s take a look at some of the most common hurdles:

  • Finding the Right Technology: One of the biggest problems with personalized marketing comes from outdated technology that is not fit for the mobile era. A key element of personalization success is data collection and automation, and with this comes the need for an intelligent algorithm. Unfortunately, many marketers struggle to find a smart personalization engine that meets their needs.
  • Time and Resources: While the right software is needed for personalization, companies also need a devoted team. Not all companies are prepared to dedicate the time and resources toward a successful personalized marketing strategy.
  • Creating a Single Customer View: When looking for common threads across channels, marketers are able to establish a better picture of who the customer really is by piecing together their customer data into a single unified customer profile. However, research shows that marketers have trouble linking data to individual customer profiles.
  • Implementing Smart Segmentation: Smart segmentation across channels isn’t just for show, it actually boosts performance. Unfortunately, many marketers still struggle to get past basic segmentation strategies. In fact, 85% of brands agree their segmentation strategy is based on broad segments and simple clustering.

How to Create a Successful Personalized Marketing Strategy

No one said it was easy. When launching a successful personalized marketing strategy, the following should be considered:

  • Compare: To start, if you’re not using any kind of content personalization engine, you should be. If you are already leveraging a personalization platform, make sure to compare your existing solution against any other that claims to offer more value.
  • Capture: Typically, the implementation of this type of solution is fairly easy (requiring only a few lines of code on your webpages). Once code has been added to your website, you can start capturing data, including clicks, time on site, abandoned shopping carts, purchase history, and much more.
  • Analyze: Capturing data, building analytical capabilities, and developing adaptable websites are all beneficial to an organization, but they are most valuable when fully synchronized with each other. After just a few short weeks, your personalization solution should be able to provide relevant content recommendations to customers. This is when you should run an A/B test to validate the performance of your system vs. a control.
  • Act: Data collection and analysis inform your marketing decisions, but you should still let the machine do the heavy lifting. Don’t play with the calculation method more than necessary (for example: new promotions, out of stock products, etc.)

Common Personalized Marketing Questions

There are some common questions that come up around personalized marketing. We’ve outlined some of the ones we hear most often below:

  • Why is personalized marketing important?

With technological improvements, customer expectations are evolving. When customers provide their personal information, they want to be treated an as individual with unique traits. As marketers, we need to provide the information that customers want, in the right place and at the right time.

  • How do I measure personalized marketing efforts?

Similar to any marketing campaign, there are many ways to measure the effectiveness of personalized marketing campaigns. Using intuitive reporting dashboards is especially important when it comes to understanding and targeting your customers. With advanced reporting and insights, you have the ability to measure the performance of your strategy and the direct impact on business.

  • How does personalized marketing impact the customer experience?

Great question! The key here is that personalized campaigns turn browsing customers into buying customers. Customers are continuously seeking great buying experiences, and delivering individualized content to recipients strengthens the relationship between businesses and their consumers.

  • What’s the relationship between personalized marketing and omnichannel marketing?

Basically, personalized marketing strategies support the broader objectives of an omnichannel approach. By understanding the preferred channel for each contact, marketers can automatically follow up across channels as part of a coordinated omnichannel strategy.

The Future of Personalized Marketing

As customer expectations and marketing technology constantly evolve, the shift toward personalized marketing will become more important for brands. Customers expect tailored communication, a better experience, and consistency across channels.

With the right automation technology, you can individualize your content for each customer, with a wide variety of options to choose from.

Personalized Marketing Resources