Throughout the past several years, marketers have been using more sophisticated levels of personalization. What was once novel, like adding customers’ names to email subject lines and showing recently viewed products in display ads, is now considered table stakes. Data and technology have opened the doors for creating truly relevant and meaningful interactions with customers and have given marketers the opportunity to meet and exceed customer expectations.
From McCormick’s FlavorPrint experience to Netflix’s personalized movie suggestions, brands are increasingly providing innovative and tailored experiences for their customers. In fact, according to eMarketer, more than 77 percent of B2C marketing decision makers rank personalization as very or extremely important for their current success and 83 percent say it is important for their long-term success.
Meanwhile, consumers are expecting brands to not only understand their individual buying habits, but also their intents, and to deliver contextually relevant experiences based on this understanding. In a recent Janrain survey, nearly 75 percent of consumers said they get frustrated with websites when ads, promotions, or other brand interactions don’t match their interests. Additionally, eMarketer found that consumers who received personalized experiences from brands showed favorability for those brands, compared to those that did not provide personalized experiences.
At Rise, we help marketers accomplish two key things: allocate budget most effectively and create more relevant experiences for customers. By creating a fully integrated personalized experience, you can be more efficient with spend, and deliver the experiences customers want and expect. Showing customers that you understand them enables you to build long-term trust and loyalty.
With our clients, we’ve seen strong correlations between personalization and shorter sales cycles, higher average order values, and increased propensity for customers to convert and refer to their networks.
So, how does it all work?
Here are four steps to use as a roadmap for integrating personalization into your digital marketing campaigns.
1. Collect and organize your data.
The explosion of data in the information age has been both a blessing and a curse. We have more information on our customers than ever before, but that can also create more confusion than clarity. Your first step should be collecting and organizing the flood of information available to you as a marketer, so that you can begin to make sense of it. Consider every online and offline consumer touchpoint in your data collection – in store, email, direct mail, mobile apps, websites, etc. – to help paint a comprehensive picture of your customers. Being able to create the right infrastructure to organize your data will be key in making it useable and actionable.
The more data you have – assuming you have the right infrastructure to manage it – the more relevant of an experience you can create. To improve these experiences and drive more meaningful interactions, you can append additional third party information to build out customer profiles. Data management platforms can help with this as you create more complete profiles based on what is known about other individuals with similar habits.
2. Understand and define your audiences.
As you develop your audience segments, you can begin to understand not only their identities, but also what they are doing in the moment. This is an opportunity to get the right message to the right person at the right time. I’ll talk a little more about that in the next step.
To fully understand your audiences, you’ll need to move from customer segmentation to customer recognition. This requires an aligned Man + Machine approach. The “machine” side can introduce automated recommendations based on your analytics and reporting, while continually optimizing those recommendations. Yet, while these learning algorithms can help you get extremely granular with personalized recommendations, there is still a necessary human element. Having the right minds in place will allow you to properly define audiences, build the necessary creative components, and implement the right messaging.
3. Activate and personalize dynamic templates within your media channels.
Once you understand your audience, how do you activate against it? You can trigger personalized creative ads that map each individual or audience to a different type of creative. Personalization can occur within specific elements of each ad. From header images and footer links, to the promotional messages displayed, each piece can be customized and activated throughout your digital channels. This level of customization creates a really meaningful experience, one that a customer should feel across all touchpoints, not just through a single disparate channel. The data you collected in step one can fuel dynamic ads across your media channels, leveraging customer insights to create relevant placements.
Also keep in mind that as you continue to learn more about your customers, you’ll quickly recognize they’re not all created equal. Your job as a marketer is to identify and maximize those who are most valuable, while enticing other customer to be more like them. Once you’ve analyzed your data and pinpointed these customer groups, you can build look-alike models to help you find and communicate with new, similar individuals, and grow your audience.
4. Measure and optimize your campaigns.
As with any digital marketing program, you’ll want to measure the impact of your investment and be able to show the value of personalization on your overall marketing efforts. Make sure you’re implementing testing into any of your activation plans; personalization is an investment, so you need to make sure you’re seeing a return. Using a control group (like your branded, generic ads) against a test group (your personalized ads), will show the incremental lift gained and help you determine how to optimize your campaigns.
If you don’t have the resources in-house, think about using an analytics partner to make sure you have the proper implementation to execute a test. If you are outsourcing your testing, make sure you have full transparency into what is being measured and what it is being measured against. Also understand the factors that may influence the success of your campaign, such as ad cost and placement.
As the marketing landscape continues to evolve and the amount of data and information available to marketers grows, it’s increasingly important to make the most of the information available at your fingertips. Keep in mind that if customers willingly share personal details with you, you must be thoughtful in how you use that information and create a value exchange. Rewarding customers with useful content will help earn and keep their trust.
Personalization has the potential to deliver a big return on investment for brands. By understanding your customer segments, tailoring your messaging, and delivering the right message at the right time, you can increase sales and develop loyal brand advocates.
For more information on how you can successfully incorporate personalization into your digital marketing campaigns, contact Rise.