Guest post by Stefan Debois.
Marketing is evolving rapidly, and the use of big data is increasingly important. Customers and prospects have higher expectations than ever before for relevance and personalization, and marketers need to be prepared to meet those needs.
According to a study from Infosys, 86% of respondents say personalization has at least some impact on their purchasing behavior. One quarter stated that personalization has a significant impact. That’s why it’s imperative to gather and analyze data to understand buyer needs and wants, and personalize messages.
While the idea of creating personalized content might sound overwhelming, today’s web design and marketing automation tools make it easier to offer your audience at least some amount of tailor-made content, increasing your return on investment (ROI). Here’s a list of common do’s and don’ts.
Make smart use of tagging for personalizing your messages
Personalizing email messages creates impact in several ways. One is to increase attention value of a message. Another is to create a better match between the content and reader—to make your content more personal. A third is to improve the match between a (product) offer and a subscriber.
You can make your marketing more sophisticated by using behavioral signals (a person has visited your website, clicked on or bought an item, and so on). You can use tags to identify these signals and improve email targeting in combination with dynamic content and automation.
For example, if one segment of your audience has attended a webinar you hosted, you can personalize their newsletter update with an excerpt from that webinar. Or you could offer them a discount on one of the products or services that were mentioned during the webinar.
Update your personalization process regularly
Personalized marketing is a process of continuous development and evaluation. What leads to a successful conversion today might not work tomorrow. Personalization is a journey or continual refinement.
For example, data may reveal that your messaging comes across as annoying or irrelevant. Understanding this, you might decide to take a more human-centered approach.
Personalization is primarily about building trusted customer relationships. If you are somewhat sure about what could be relevant for a specific customer, you can definitely give the messaging a try.
An even more important step in your process is analyzing the results. This will give you a better understanding on what your customers expect and how to refine your personalization going forward.
The “see what’s next” trick
You may know this trick from Netflix. Just when you think you’ve already binge-watched every series on Netflix, they show you “see what’s next” suggestions to make sure you have still more options for binge-watching.
It’s smart to do the same with your blog posts. If you’ve written great content, your audience may be hungry for more of your posts. Show them “you may also like” posts. Personalize your content and recommendations based on the reader’s interests. For example, if they are reading a blog post on copywriting, they might as well be interested in one of your posts about content marketing strategy.
Consider engaging content
According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, 53% of marketers make use of interactive content and 59% of those use it to increase engagement from their customers. The most popular types of interactive content are assessments (54%), calculators (52%), contests (50%), and quizzes (48%).
Beyond engagement, lead generation is a key purpose for interactive content. You could include a questionnaire asking some specific questions, and calculating the exact benefit for their situation in terms of number of hours time saved, amount of ,money saved, additional sales, etc.. It can also include some personalized (qualitative) recommendations. For example, Eneco collected 1000+ leads in 6 weeks via an interactive questionnaire.
Generate a target group strategy
Again, every target group has different needs. Divide your customers into segments based on gender, income, interests, pain points and so on; or for B2B prospects, segment by company size, product interest, vertical industry, or job role.
Translate the needs and challenges into a roadmap for every stage in the customer lifecycle. Focus on each segment differently and personalize your content in order to show the most relevant information. This will create an experience that keeps customers and prospects coming back for more of your content.
Don’t be too creepy in your personalization
A recent study from customer experience (CX) intelligence leader InMoment found that 75% of more than 2,000 customer respondents find most forms of personalization creepy. In addition, 40% of more than 1,000 brand marketers admit to being creepy with their personalized content.
There’s a difference between appropriate and creepy ads. For example, you’ve just chatted online about the vacation to Ibiza you are planning this summer. You go to a random website and suddenly a hotel ad pops up for…Ibiza.
It would be more appropriate to show a discount flight ticket ad after the person visited an airline website.
Make sure to not be too personal when it comes to ads, and wait for the appropriate moment. Most people don’t mind being served ads that are meaningful or interesting, as long as they don’t cross the line into creepy.
Don’t personalize just one piece of the puzzle
One way to raise the personalization bar is to personalize the customer’s experience as a whole. When a customer visits your website, show them content tailored to their interests and needs. In other words, different target groups see different content, offers or sales messages.
To make this feasible, create an ROI model that provides a clear vision of the potential personalization process. It might, in addition, serve as guidance to reduce the amount of effort you put into this process.
Don’t personalize just because you can
The whole purpose of personalization is to make the customer feel cared about and special—like they are not just another random website visitor or email address. This means you’ll have to follow up on your commitment. Be interested in what your customer wants, provide value, and address their needs.
Don’t settle too quickly
Marketing means constant innovation, renewing your methods, and trying other strategies once you know what piques a buyer’s interest. Building more trust with your customers will result in more revenue in the long run. So don’t be pleased too quickly with what you’ve accomplished. Keep looking for opportunities to grow and improve your current strategy.
Stefan Debois is the founder and CEO of Survey Anyplace, an online software tool to create engaging surveys, quizzes and assessments. Besides kitesurfing, Stefan is passionate about the use of technology to build professional relationships with people, at scale. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.