Personalization in marketing has become a buzzword among brands. But what does personalization mean? And why is it important?
Personalized emails, for example, are not just about sending different messages to different people. They're also about tailoring content based on where your customers are in their journey with you. As a result, personalized emails help improve both engagement and conversion rates.
Personalization is the future of marketing because it's the key to building deeper relationships with customers while giving them more value than they expect from brands today—all at scale!
In this guide, we'll look at how personalization can drive better results for your business by helping you connect with your customers where they're most receptive to receiving information from you (and where competitors aren't). We'll also outline how marketers can implement this strategy into their campaigns today.
What is personalization?
Personalization is a strategy to deliver specific, individualized consumer experiences based on behavioral, demographic, and geographical data. This data is then used to craft tailored marketing content, such as personalized emails, product recommendations, and special offers that meet individual consumer preferences.
While personalization is often applied to marketing campaigns, it can also be used in sales and customer service when addressing different kinds of individuals within their respective segments. For example, you can provide different messaging depending on whether someone has purchased from you before or not.
Why is personalization in marketing now so important?
The marketing landscape has shifted. The meteoric rise of social media platforms and the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have upended the marketer’s playbook.
When COVID-19 first shook the world, digital transformation accelerated overnight, bolstering social and online shopping trends. Suddenly, bricks and mortar businesses scrambled to establish a digital presence and maintain a seamless online customer service experience. This sent customer expectations soaring regarding what companies could offer them digitally.
The COVID crisis confirmed what we already knew about the changing marketing landscape: brands must communicate in precise and personalized ways, targeting specific audiences based on their current circumstances, preferences, and needs.
Our customers now tire of robotic, generic, and overly automated marketing strategies. Instead, they expect to feel valued and served almost instantly - or they will go elsewhere. This requires a human approach that combines empathy, connection, and conversation.
Put simply, personalized marketing acknowledges that every interaction a brand has with its customers is a conversation that involves one human buying from another.
How personalized marketing differs from traditional marketing
Gone are the days of blast email marketing and blanket PPC campaigns. Traditional marketing prioritized quantity over relevance. It relied on casting a wide net to catch the attention of a comparatively small pool of interested customers.
But traditional marketing strategies no longer have the impact they used to. Now that we have abundant choices, consumers don’t let intrusive or irrelevant marketing tactics interrupt their days. If it doesn’t immediately capture their interest, they don’t entertain it.
Consumers care less about brand loyalty and more about receiving a positive experience and good value for money. According to market research firm Forrester, 77% of consumers had chosen, recommended, or paid for a brand offering personalized experiences.
Personalization has proven itself as an essential part of successful businesses over time; here are a couple of high-profile examples:
The more skillful a business is at applying data to increase consumer knowledge and connection, the greater the ROI. Research shows that companies that excel at personalization generate 40 percent more revenue from those activities than average players.
The benefits of using personalized marketing
Personalization drives repeat engagement and loyalty
Imagine you've just opened your inbox. Which email is most likely to grab your attention?
Option A: The email that addresses you as a "dear customer" and bombards you with irrelevant offers, deals, and new products.
Option B: The email that uses your first name and presents you with a series of product recommendations and offers based on your recent buying history.
You would unanimously choose Option B because of the personal attention. We want to be treated as individuals with specific needs and preferences. There's a sweet spot between impersonal indifference and overbearing blanket marketing tactics: a people-centered, personalized approach.
Over three-quarters of consumers (76 percent) said that receiving personalized communications was a critical factor in influencing their brand consideration, and 78 percent said such content made them more likely to repurchase.
Repeat interactions and returning customers generate more data, which brands can use to design more relevant and personalized experiences. The result is strong, long-term customer loyalty.
Personalization creates an experience
We’re exposed to more information than ever before. We can look up anything with our smartphones and don’t have to take anything at face value. Coupled with the pandemic’s impact on our social lives, this has given rise to the experience economy.
Increasingly, consumers are valuing personalized experiences over material things. We want to squeeze the juice out of life and explore everything it offers.
Personalization taps into this desire to experience life rather than go through the motions. Ultimately, personalization is about presence; it offers a memorable and tailored customer experience rather than a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to marketing.
Much like being assisted at a luxury department store, personalization goes the extra mile to make consumers feel seen, valued, and appreciated. It sticks in their minds as a positive experience and makes them more inclined to return as customers.
Examples of personalization:
Personalization targets more specific audiences
Personalized, human-to-human marketing requires knowing your audience inside-out. This is where segmentation comes into play - splitting your audience into sub-groups based on their preferences and shared behavior.
For example, one segment of your email list could be new customers. Another segment could be people who have abandoned their carts. An additional segment could be customers who have made a specific number of purchases within a particular category in the last few months.
Each segment requires different messaging and offers. Rather than a generic product plug, each email should encourage relevant, specific, and purpose-driven interaction, depending on the recipients.
91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.
Personalization creates better customer relationships
Consumers expect brands to have precisely what they want - and the bar keeps rising. Nowadays, they expect the buying journey to be frictionless, proactive, relevant, and connected. At every touchpoint throughout the funnel, their preferences should be addressed, and their future needs anticipated.
The more data is gathered, the more brands can tailor their messaging to individual consumers. This creates better customer relationships, as consumers know they can expect relevant content and valuable suggestions throughout the funnel. Information is shared in the right place, at the right time, and under the right circumstances.
Strong customer relationships are no longer a satisfying byproduct of effective marketing - they're essential. The pandemic reinforced the importance of bonds built on trust, authenticity, connection, and mutual understanding.
This new world of online interactions is no longer a contest of who can shout the loudest or display the most charm. The most impactful marketing relies on modern consumers' sentiments, values, and needs - and crafts solutions to meet those needs and foster trust and loyalty.
How to create outstanding personal experiences for customers
To deliver business growth through personalization, brands must offer consistent value, use every channel, and focus on providing engagement. There are five fundamental approaches available to marketers to implement personalization in a way that is right for your organization.
Combine personalization and automation
For a long time, marketing was about buying mass reach - disseminating information far and wide, so the target audience would see it.
Nowadays, identifying ideal clients is less about email blasting and blanket media approaches and more about data analytics and personalization. As companies gather customers’ data with explicit consent, they expect anticipatory, personalized experiences throughout the buying funnel.
But modern marketing has created a paradox. We want speed, convenience, and automation, but we also wish for personalization, value, and a human-to-human connection.
The two preferences needn’t be mutually exclusive. Instead, you can offer your customers and clients the best of both worlds so they benefit from the seamlessness of automation and the human touch of personalization.
Ultimately, automation helps to generate leads, gather consensual data, and start conversations. Once you know more about your audience, true personalization can begin.
Companies can use this data and intelligence to deliver timely, relevant, and specific interactions to build strong customer connections.
Just because we’re more reliant on technology doesn’t mean we don’t need two-way communication channels anymore. Once a marketing campaign is up and running, it’s essential to have someone present to respond to messages, comments, and questions - in a conversational way.
Social media is purpose-built for casual, friendly human-to-human interactions. Answer questions, share content, and go live to interact with your audience in real-time.
Not only will this build your brand identity, but it’s also a valuable way to learn more about your audience. This casual and conversational approach humanizes your brand and provides a simple, direct communication line - from one human to another.
Outside of business hours, chatbots can deliver personalization at scale by tracking inquiries, identifying customer intent, and enabling conversation at any point in the customer journey.
Be honest and transparent
We all sift through so much information and content daily, meaning we can spot inauthenticity from a mile off. Being open and honest with your audience is the only way to build a solid relationship based on trust.
Data protection regulations and GDPR compliance mean that companies have to work harder to collect consensual, privacy-aware data from customers. 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to enable a personalized experience. In return, businesses must also be transparent about collecting and using the data.
There’s an important balance to strike. Too much automation can feel robotic and impersonal, while too much personalization can feel invasive and creepy. The most successful marketers understand that transparency and respect garner customer loyalty and trust.
Make it a more intimate experience
Create an authentic experience for your customers, and they'll remember you. In fact, the more personal a customer's experience is with your brand or business, the more likely they are to come back. Creating memorable experiences is good for business in many ways:
Do something different
While some of these points might sound like common sense, the truth is that many companies offer an experience exactly like everyone else's—and not in a good way.
You're always competing with other companies for customers' attention, so why would you want them to think they could get what you offer from anyone else? You need to stand out by creating something unique and compelling.
To create something truly unique and memorable, don't limit yourself to traditional ideas and services when planning your customer marketing strategy. Maybe you have an idea for an event that people will love but have never seen done before. Or maybe there's another way for people to interact with your brand (like with your email signatures).
Whatever it may be, don't underestimate how much impact doing something different can have on the overall perception of your business. When done well, you'll quickly become known as an innovator rather than just another company trying too hard!
Use business emails to offer personalized experiences
At Exclaimer, personalization is at our heart. Our specialist email signature solutions offer prime real estate to place personalized messaging, promotions, and more to drive ROI and garner stronger customer relationships.
We can now utilize our e-mail signatures for Connor S., Solution Consultants ICT LTDwhich was something we were unable to do before due to how long it would take to update our signatures. Exclaimer is paying for itself between the free and the time it saves our IT department, I don't think we will ever go back.
Whether it's right or wrong, personalization is essential to get right. Personalization is a powerful tool that can help you connect with your audience in new ways. It is about making the customer happy and making them feel known and cared for by your brand. Businesses can also use personalization to create relationships with customers and turn them into loyal supporters of the company.
For marketers today, using every possible channel, including email signatures, in the right way for your stage of company growth is vital for giving yourself a competitive advantage in today's digital world. It also means you can control your media spend, achieve better results, and delight your now-engaged customer base.
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