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If you’ve ever gotten a new pet, then you’ve likely experienced personalized marketing firsthand. From the moment that new dog, cat, or hamster enters your home, somehow, the algorithm has you pegged. 

Suddenly, your social media feeds are flooded with ads for ergonomic water bowls, fluffy beds, and gourmet kibbles for your four-legged friend. You discover that puppy bow ties are a whole, thriving industry. Amazon knows you need a cat tower in every room of the house (and offers targeted discounts to make sure you get them). 

And it’s not just the pet-specific brands that are going to pick up on your new interest. You can also expect to see vacuums specifically marketed to pick up pesky pet hair while clothing brands start pushing their “Crazy Cat Mom” line of t-shirts.

This is just one example of a personalized marketing ecosystem. 

And it intersects with thousands of other data points that help marketers tailor their marketing to you, specifically. Thanks to AI and big data, these data sets continue to grow, fuelling the evolution of personalization in marketing. Personalization is how Netflix knows which show you’ll binge-watch next. It’s how Amazon knows which products you’re most likely to impulse buy. 

After all, what we think of as “personalized marketing” often barely scratches the surface. Personalization is about way more than slapping someone’s first name in the subject line of an email. It’s an essential part of your entire marketing approach—visuals, messaging, and where you’re choosing to connect with your customers. 

Personalized marketing trends

Ready for some snack-sized stats? Here’s the rundown: 

  • 88% of surveyed sales, marketing, and enablement professionals agree that buyers nowadays expect more relevant and personalized content than they did a mere five years ago. (Seismic/Forrester)
  • 72% of consumers in 2019 said they only engage with marketing messages that are customized to their specific interests. (SmarterHQ)
  • 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience. (Epsilon)
  • 34% of consumers would be motivated to promote their favorite brand online with content relevant to their interests. (Salesforce)
  • Personalized email campaigns receive 29% higher email open rates and 41% higher click-through rates than ordinary emails. (Experian)
  • 63% of marketers say data-driven personalization is the most challenging tactic to execute. (SmarterHQ)

Put another way, 8 out of 10 consumers are more likely to support your brand if you show them how your product or service fits into their lifestyle. 

And we can expect that number to increase as Gen Z comes of age. “For teens and Millennials, personalization is not a fad, it’s a way of life. It’s about self-expression, individual storytelling, and staying connected with friends,” said Stuart Kronauge, senior vice president, sparkling brands, Coca-Cola North America.

 

Advancements in marketing tech have driven the shift towards more personalized, targeted advertising. Today, we’re able to integrate machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data to create 1-on-1 promotional experiences like never before. 

Long story short, today’s consumers don’t just expect personalization. They value it. And modern brands who don’t deliver are going to fall behind. 

Still, only 1 in 5 organizations effectively uses personalized marketing.

If the data shows that personalized content is so important, why are organizations so bad at it? Well, there are a few different pain points that marketing teams need to navigate. 

It takes time

It’s faster to create one ad for one audience than to create five ads for five audience segments. If you’re a one-person marketing department or a small team that’s already stretched thin, personalization could feel like you’re just creating more work for yourself. 

Or, if you’re a large organization with national or international reach, you could have hundreds of audience segments. Do you really need to tailor your messaging to each one? 

According to Seismic’s survey, yes. 85% of survey respondents claimed that they’d be more likely to dismiss a potential seller or company if they didn’t receive personalized content during the first interaction.

It takes data

Thanks to advances in technology, we’re able to collect more customer data than ever. Theoretically, this can translate into hyper-targeted marketing. 

The problem? Often, this data comes from multiple, disconnected sources. As a result, it can be challenging to translate the data into actionable marketing messages. 

“According to The Clear Path to Personalization report by Forbes Insights and Arm Treasure Data, 48% of marketers cite data quality as a leading roadblock to effective personalization.” — Forbes Agency Council

It’s constantly changing

Even when you have the time to sit down with your data sets and refine your targeted messaging, the work isn’t done. You’ll need to continually revisit your audience segments and data to make sure you’re still hitting the mark. As Forbes notes, “Practical personalization takes ongoing effort and continuous refinement.” 

It needs to toe the line between custom and creepy

We’ve all had that moment when personalization goes too far. That stomach sinking, hair-raising, how do they know this about me? feeling. And it’s no coincidence that, with widespread personalization, privacy has become more of a concern

Making personalization work for you

These are all serious and valid obstacles to implementing personalized marketing into your brand’s strategy. But taking a blanket approach to your outreach is the fastest way to frustrate the audiences you’re trying to engage. So, how do you balance your resources and your personalization strategy? 

Start small

Maybe you don’t have the time to create custom messages for all of your audience segments across every channel. But there are still plenty of small ways to implement personalized marketing into your strategy. One of the easiest ways to start is through personalized email marketing campaigns. 

Personalizing your email campaigns increases your open and click-through rates and can have a measurable impact on your ROI and revenue. And studies have shown that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than those without. Finally, a study by Rich Relevance found that revenue is 5.7 times higher in emails that employ personalization.

Personalized email campaigns in action

Your email campaigns need to be timely, relevant, and human. For example, imagine you’re an organic meat company. With your different audience segments, you have plenty of opportunities to send out personalized content throughout the year. For example: 

  • January — Audience segment: fitness enthusiasts, Keto diet, Paleo; how grass-fed beef supports your New Year’s fitness resolutions.
  • February — Audience segment: couples in their early 30s interested in cooking; learn how to make the perfect porterhouse to surprise your sweetie this Valentine’s Day!
  • July — Audience segment: suburban homeowners interested in grilling; 4th of July steak sale

These examples are just a rudimentary outline of the possibilities. But they demonstrate the potential for your marketing team to increase the relevance of an email just by sending it to the right audience at the right time. And crafting one personalized email each month is a lot more doable for small marketing teams than an overarching, multichannel approach. 

Get creative with your data

These days, there are plenty of tools to collect information about consumer behavior. But many—Google Analytics, Heap Analytics, and Crazy Egg—have a steep learning curve, require ongoing analysis, or cost too much to be a practical solution for small businesses. 

And, while hyper-personalization is where 1-on-1 marketing is trending, there’s still plenty you can do without knowing that your customers are single 32-year-old men from New York City who play the guitar left-handed. 

Creative data uses in action

Consider, for example, what you can do just with your customers’ zip codes. In 2014, when Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium analyzed their customer data, they learned which zip codes their most frequent visitors called home. Then, they created tailored discount codes to reach more people from those areas. The result? A 13% increase in memberships. And that was just in the first quarter. 

This is just one example of getting the most out of the data you likely already have on hand. 

Use personalization to predict future needs

personalized marketing for dog ownersLet’s go back to the new pet scenario. Intelligent marketers (or the programs they use) know that adopting a dog isn’t the end of your

buyer journey. In many ways, it’s just the beginning. And if your brand is paying attention, you have the power to predict what’s coming next.

In the first few weeks, that new dog owner will need toys, food, treats, and bedding. In the first few months, they’ll need a new veterinarian and information about licensing. And for the rest of their pet’s life, they’ll need advice on training and caring for their pet. If your brand can predict and proactively answer those needs, you can get your content in front of the right audience when they’re still in the consideration stage.

Pet ownership isn’t the only place we see brands predicting a customer’s future needs. 

Think about the last time you bought a plane ticket. Did the airline follow up by offering you travel insurance, exclusive hotel deals, and a car rental package? Did they suggest certain upgrades or add-ons to make your trip more comfortable? Most likely, they tailored these deals based on your personal data. 

Personalized recommendations in action

We see this all of the time with platforms that have predictive algorithms. 

Netflix knows which shows you’re most likely to binge after finishing the Schitt’s Creek series finale. Amazon knows that you’re going to need a life jacket and helmet to go with that kayak you just bought. Even music apps like Spotify and Amazon Music put together personalized playlists based on your listening history—predicting which song you need to listen to next. 

Your marketing team doesn’t need to have the latest algorithms at their fingertips. They just need to put themselves in your customers’ shoes and understand what comes next. 

Get the most out of your personalized marketing 

Results are in: personalization is a marketing trend that won’t go away anytime soon. In fact, most experts predict that it’s time to double down with hyper-personalization. By providing relevant, timely, and useful information, personalized marketing creates a 1-on-1 relationship with each customer. This, in turn, leads to more brand loyalty and trust. 

Not sure where to get started? MarTech Outlook recently recognized Savy as a top 10 Personalized Marketing Solutions Provider. We can help you supe up your analytics, dig down into your audience segments, and craft personalized messages that meet your customers where they’re at. Get in touch to get started