Data is a hot topic in marketing right now and with good reason. Never before has there been such a plentiful supply of rich data, and never before has there been such an array of technology to crunch the numbers and give us insights into the lives of consumers.
But therein lies the challenge for the marketer. While the data is undoubtedly important—at the end of the day we are still reaching out to real people and not data points. As marketers, it can be easy to become so immersed in data analysis that we forget the aim is to have a conversation with a real person.
Rather than data being an end in itself, the snippets of information garnered from consumer behavior need to be used to deliver personalized content that is specifically designed to meet the consumer’s needs. More than that though, marketers must be adaptable in their approach, building the capability to adapt their message based on user response. In short the data needs to inform a personalized and adaptable strategy, focused on consumer behavior.
Insights into emotion
This is obviously no easy task in an environment where the linear customer journey towards a sale has morphed into a fluid and ever-shifting process—one that is largely under the control of the consumer.
Data clearly has a critical role to play in delivering the right message, to the right target, on the right device, and at the right time. But in the creative marketing environment, it needs to do more than identify targets and deliver content. This is something that I think Spotify CMO Seth Farbman summed up very succinctly in an interview with Creativity Online:
“There has been some debate about whether big data is muting creativity in marketing but we have turned that on its head. For us, data inspires and gives an insight into the emotion that people are expressing.”
Take a look at how some brands, both large and small, are getting it right through different channels to help you focus on doing the same.
Lets stay with Spotify to kick things off.
OK, so billboards don’t spring to mind straight away when you think about personalization. But Spotify put a new twist on personalization with their “Thanks 2016, it’s been weird” campaign. The ads plucked quirky facts from Spotify user data to design some amusing and eye-catching displays.
- “Dear person who played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day, what did you do?”
- “Dear person who made a playlist called: ‘One Night Stand With Jeb Bush Like He’s a Bond Girl in a European Casino.’ We have so many questions.”
- “Dear person in the Theater District who listened to the Hamilton Soundtrack 5,376 times this year, can you get us tickets?”
- For the UK market “Dear 3,749 people who streamed ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It’ the day of the Brexit vote, hang in there.”
Not personalization in the traditional sense but definitely creative, eye-catching, and memorable use of data.
Email marketing, which continues to endure as an effective means to start a conversation, is a ripe medium for personalization as these examples demonstrate.
- Hubspot increased click-through rates and generated more clicks by personalizing messages not just with the recipient’s name, but also with detailed account rep information.
- BustedTee achieved a 17 percent increase in email response, an 11 percent higher click through rate, and a 7.6 percent increase in site engagement by segmenting email send times according to time zones.
- Spartan Races saw increases in traffic, new users, and conversions from targeting emails based on the recipient’s location.
- Denamico achieved a 43 percent increase in open rates and 89 percent in click through rates by personalizing email newsletters with segmented CTAs based on the template shown below.
Image source: Denamico
Adding the Personal Touch to Video
Video, an indispensable method of communication for most marketers, is also an area where technology is allowing a greater degree of personalization. Video content can now be populated with the recipient’s name, company name etc. pulled automatically from an automated marketing platform.
Take a look at these excellent examples highlighted by Vidyard to see the impact such a degree of personalization can have.
I also like this example form Lenovo, which “celebrates all that IT workers do for us”, while demonstrating how individual videos can be customized with prospect and customer details.
If you would like to take a deeper dive into video marketing, Shelly Kramer wrote a post covering the topic recently on The Marketing Scope titled Six Steps for the Perfect Video Campaign.
Personalization can also be applied at a more basic level by applying simple segmentation techniques. Paper Style for instance identified that targeting specific content towards different groups produced a significant lift in open rates, clicks, and revenues. Simply by separating brides from friends of brides, and putting them on different email nurturing tracks, the company was able to achieve impressive results when compared to previous blanket type campaigns.
Meanwhile DoggyLoot are delivering tailored content based not just on user behavior, but also on the size of the dog, with a simple additional question to subscribers.
Image source: DoggyLoot
The principle of course doesn’t just apply to weddings and dogs. Simple segmentation based on a range of options and demographics can result in a much more personalized and tailored approach to the delivery of marketing content.
We’re all familiar by now with recommendations. After all Amazon, Spotify, and Netflix have been offering them in one form or another for some time now.
Many other companies are now however offering recommendations to enhance their marketing personalization.
- Naked Wines allows the user to rate every wine and then get personalized recommendations based on other members reviews.
- Charity crowd funding website Global Giving developed a Netflix type recommendation engine, prompting people to donate to projects based on previous charitable affiliations.
- In fashion Net-A-Porter recommend not only similar products, but also complimentary items to increase cross-selling opportunities.
- Accounting platform DeepSky provides a free tool, which produces a personalized recommendation for how much a business should be budgeting for accounting services.
Personal, Adaptable – and Human
These examples are just a few of the many ways brands are getting it right with personalization. I hope they have given you some ideas that will help you along the same path.
The one thing they all have in common is that they provide varying degrees of personalization, adaptability, and flexibility to help their brand stand out in a crowded marketplace. Keep in mind however, whatever data you leverage and whichever technology you deploy, you are marketing to real people and your content must reflect that. This is something that’s summed up neatly at DMN News, reflecting on an interview with executive creative director at Olson 1to1, Jim Specht.
The main takeaway on content? It should “feel like it’s coming from a human,” Specht said. There’s a risk that leveraging AI can result in messages that are “very cold, distant, and severe.” Algorithms are great, but you have to know when to use them to enhance the customer experience.
(Creating custom content is something I wrote about recently: How Custom Content Can Boost Your Demand Gen Efforts)
What has your experience been of personalized marketing, either as a generator of content or as a recipient of a personalized message? I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.