Is personalized marketing here to stay?

Living in a time where instant gratification is no longer just a desire but a growing expectation, marketers must reassess their approach. With endless competition and a constant battle for consumer attention, there is a greater push towards providing meaningful content that resonates with your audience. To do so, companies have turned to personalized marketing.

In fact, studies have shown that 90% of US consumers find marketing content personalization very or at least somewhat appealing. From the business perspective, according to McKinsey Digital, “personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent, lift revenues by 5 to 15 percent, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10 to 30 percent.” This proves that not only is personalized marketing beneficial for consumers but it’s an effective strategy for companies to utilize as well.

Consequently, one could argue that personalization is essential to keep up with today’s competitive climate. To gain further insight into the impact of personalized marketing, I asked five experienced marketers to share their thoughts.

Knowing Your Customer

Tamara Pluviose, Sr. Manager at Virgin Voyages who specializes in eCommerce and Experience Optimization, stated:

87% of customers say it’s important to buy from a brand that “understands the real me.” It’s no surprise that year after year in almost every survey, both from the marketer’s and the customer’s perspective, cites being able to provide relevant content is a crucial differentiator for companies today. That’s why the ability to personalize your marketing to your target audiences can significantly impact not only engagement but ultimately sales and revenue. However, the key to personalization is understanding who your audience is and recognizing them when they interact with your brand.”

From a research perspective, according to Susana Sosa Aiken, Audience Measurement & Consumer Analytics Manager at HBO Latin America,

“Personalized marketing is crucial to include in any marketing campaign nowadays. Based on my previous experience, what is even more important is how we use the information we have about a consumer (whether if its trends or behavior from your analytics) to make it relevant and timely to that consumer. For the use of personalized marketing to work, we as marketers have to make sure we have clear objectives, goals, and strategies [in] place; otherwise our campaigns could miss the mark.”

As Pluviose and Aiken expertly mentioned, to be effective with your marketing efforts you must truly understand who your audience is. To do so, marketers need to invest the time and allocate the necessary resources to learn more than just the demographics of their customers. To create a realistic buyer persona, companies should also understand what their interests are, their motivations, the channels they use, how and when they interact with their brand, and what point of the customer journey they’re currently in.

Understanding The Customer Journey

To further reiterate the importance of understanding the customer journey, Michael Pace, Owner of Connected Jewelry, LLC believes that,

“Personalized marketing really starts to have an impact on ROI when you can use it to influence customer decisions which are well down the purchase funnel. For example, by tracking which pages of your site the customer visits and where exactly they abandon the journey, you can tailor-make communication to send them which reminds them to hop back into your purchase funnel. The closer the customer gets to the purchase, the more effective this strategy is.”

As mentioned by Pace, this is a critical point for businesses to consider. Their ability to utilize behavioral data to influence customer decisions is very powerful. That can be the difference between an abandoned cart and a loyal customer.

Power of Authenticity

Furthermore, as highlighted by Joe Szalkiewicz, Strategic Digital Marketing Expert and President of Yellow Line Digital, “Personalized marketing, done well, affirms the dignity of the individual. When an organization takes the time to provide a compelling personalization, it demonstrates that it is thinking beyond its own story and working to incorporate that individual into a shared story. This is powerful when it’s authentic.”

Szalkiewicz makes a compelling point by emphasizing the importance of authenticity. To be effective at personalized marketing we must come from a place of empathy. We need to fully immerse ourselves in the customer journey of each of our customers so we can understand how to provide the most relevant and useful content to them. By being genuine with our intentions we can then provide a level of service, engagement, and convenience that is unparalleled.

Utilizing Automation and Artificial Intelligence

While the benefits of personalization are evident from the consumer and business perspective, successful execution can be a challenge. Personalizing your marketing efforts on a mass scale can be a daunting task. Fortunately, with the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, it has become more feasible to implement. According to International Speaker, Author, and Award-Winning Marketing Faculty at Florida International University, Wendy Guess, Ph.D., stated that

“As marketing…moves toward more automation and AI, it is important to recognize the application of more personalized messaging. This style of personaliz[ed] interaction goes far beyond the outbound or inbound type of communication. It falls into the realm I call predictive communications. Utilizing the metrics-based insights acquired from automation allows for real-time communication adjustments to the marketing messages and customers to receive relevant messages as they become pertinent.  Predictive communication then supports customers anticipatory questions so organizations know when and what to communicate to gain maximum loyalty.”

Dr. Guess provides a unique perspective by highlighting the recent trend towards predictive communications and the role it plays with personalized messaging. As it relates to marketing, in addition to providing our customers with content that meets their current needs, there is a growing interest in personalizing content to meet their future needs as well. While this requires a thoughtful understanding of the customer journey, this can be an impactful way to anticipate your customers’ needs, exceed expectations, and increase customer loyalty.

Final Thoughts

Gone are the days where one-size-fits-all works for the masses. To stand out from the competition, companies need to look beyond their own story and connect with their customers on an individual level. According to Smart Insights, 72% of consumers say they now only engage with marketing messages that are personalized and tailored to their interests. For that reason, companies must set the appropriate goals and strategies to ensure that they prioritize personalization in their marketing efforts if they aspire to keep up with the increasing demand for personalization that we are seeing from today’s consumers. Careful consideration should also be placed on truly understanding the customer journey. By knowing who your customers are and where they are in their journey, businesses have an opportunity to encourage engagement, influence their decisions, and provide quality recommendations that can lead to increased sales. It’s a winning strategy on both sides.

Furthermore, through the use of analytics, automation, and artificial intelligence, companies can surpass their consumer’s expectations and deliver an experience that inherently generates brand loyalty and can result in long-term business success. While there are some challenges with implementing personalized marketing on a broad scale along with ongoing concerns about data privacy, personalized marketing has shown incredible promise so far. With the speed at which technology continues to evolve, it seems like personalized marketing won’t be going anywhere, at least for now.  

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