Consumers crave personalization. The good news is that most marketers have (or are developing) a strategy to personalize campaigns and experiences. And that's a very good thing. Monetate found that 79% of senior marketers worldwide who reported exceeding revenue goals had a documented personalization strategy in place, compared to only 8% of those who missed their revenue goals.

However, as anyone who has experienced a personalization fail can tell you, delivering a personalized experience is easier said than done. According to a University of Texas study, two factors drive consumer's desire for personalized experiences: control and information overload. If someone feels unique and special, they feel more in control. And if consumers have an experience that is clearly optimized for their tastes and preferences, they feel that their time is not being wasted with unnecessary or unwanted information. This alleviates information overload. So, with these two motivations in mind, here are four tips to optimize your approach to personalization.

Get it Right or Regret It

More than a third of consumers (and more than half of those under 50) prefer personalized messages. Unfortunately, between 40 and 50% of consumers don't think that the personalized messages they are receiving are good enough, much less great. And the risk associated with poor personalization is high. More than 40% of US consumers have dumped a company because of "poor personalization and lack of trust."

The quality aspect is complex. As Netflix and Amazon can attest, providing accurate recommendations is a powerful sales tool. It is also extremely difficult to pull off. As with all marketing, you must start with a deep understanding of your customer--their motivations, their concerns, and the journey they will take with your products or services. Transactional personalization is a great place to start (discount offers, abandoned shopping cart follow ups, helpful chatbots). However, marketers should also consider more advanced tactics such as mapping content to the sales lifecycle and dynamically modifying mobile apps and webpages to align with the customer's past behavior, interests, and probable (or desired) next steps.

As for that ever-important trust aspect, remember that customers want control over their data. This means that marketers must ensure transparency and access. They must also ensure that data is secure. This requires both the technological and cultural foundation to give consumers a clear picture of what is happening behind the scenes and then, of course, creating experiences that deliver value.

Psychology and Analytics

Many believe that hyper-relevance is the next wave of growth in personalized marketing.  To achieve this, marketers will have to invest in predictive analytics. The key here is making wise investments in tools that allow for real-time data insights, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and CRM integration. Marketers also need web content management tools that allow them to leverage dynamic content generation. This applies not only to personalized email, which is popular with marketers and consumers, but also to tactics such as customized landing and homepages.

However, there is a psychological and, frankly, more human approach that must work in tandem with smart technology. Marketers should continue to rely on relationship building and feedback based upon consumer experiences. For content marketing in particular, behavior-based data is useful to develop appropriate content that taps into insights and emotions. Account-based marketing platforms can help individualize the delivery of this content. For smaller businesses, however, having a bank of content that supports specific types of customers in common situations and contexts offers a valuable touchpoint for sales and marketing teams.

Mobilize your Insights

If you are in a position to create a mobile app for your company or brand, the insights you can gain from consumers is astounding. Customers who download apps are asking to have a relationship with your brand, so you can't take it lightly. When customers open your app, they will expect an optimized and efficient experience. Within an ethical framework, marketers can design apps to collect a wide range of data points about consumers that will improve the customer experience (not just allow for more targeted advertising).

For example, certain behaviors (such as a check in or a purchase) can trigger follow up content that users will actually find useful. In some cases, consumers are willing to answer questions about themselves to improve their app experience. And, of course, data can be collected over time to further enhance the experience within the app. However, while the temptation may be there to track every move customers make while their mobile is on, transparency, utility, and security will help build trust and a long-term customer relationship.

Don't be Creepy

More than a third of consumers use digital assistants--and nearly 90% of those said they are satisfied with the experience. However, 40% said it can feel "slightly creepy" when technology starts to correctly read and anticipate their needs. And anyone who has shopped online knows that there nothing worse than being stalked by irrelevant or outdated ads.

The challenge (and opportunity) is to collect data in a transparent way that makes the value proposition to the consumer clear. It is also incredibly powerful to provide consumers with ways to provide feedback in real time (i.e. "already purchased" or "this ad is not relevant to me"). When marketing comes on like a stalker, the relationship is doomed from the start.

The reality is, like all good marketing, personalization starts and ends with the customer. You need to know them well and decide if you can deliver value to them by personalizing their experience. You will also need give some serious consideration about whether the energy and costs associated with personalization are worthwhile, given the size of your business and your goals. Then it's time to test and track, both what works and the cost.

Ultimately, though, there are a wide range of personalization tactics that are worth considering as part of your marketing strategy. And given the barrage of marketing, advertising, and other information consumers are bombarded with today, there's serious upside to leveraging personalization to cut through the noise and deliver real value to your customers.

Published on: Aug 21, 2018