Jim Dicso Thu Aug 4, 2016

I’m sure you’ve seen it: gift shops at tourist attractions offering “personalized” souvenirs. If you were “lucky” enough to have as common a name as I do, you’d have no problem finding, say, a key chain with your name on it. But is that key chain really personalized if, on the same hook, there are eight other “Jim” key chains?

These days, I ask marketers to evaluate their personalization strategies with a similar question: are their messages actually personalized, if the only personal aspects of them are the names filled in at the top? It’s table stakes to deliver “personalized” messages to consumers, but just as it’s not enough to call a key chain with your name on it “personalized,” it’s not enough to call fill-in-the-blank marketing “personalized” either. Consumers demand relevancy, with 71 percent stating their preference for ads tailored to their interests and shopping habits. Just because an email says “Hi Jim” does not make it relevant to me. Marketers are realizing this and starting to move in the right direction by adding a recommended product based on the last purchase I made or retargeting me with a product I might have looked at but not purchased.

While it’s great to see advancements in personalization, these steps are still rudimentary. True personalization is one-to-one messaging with contextual relevance. It is delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, and doing so in every interaction. While this may seem like a pipe dream, it’s not. The overwhelming amount of data available about consumers makes this level of personalization possible for marketers who choose to take advantage of it.

While it’s great to see advancements in personalization, these steps are still rudimentary. True personalization is one-to-one messaging with contextual relevance.

Below are two examples of how to revitalize stale marketing practices with one-to-one data-driven personalization strategies:

  1. Instead of taking a “next-best offer” approach to drive an immediate second sale, focus on recommending the “next-best action.” While next-best offers are technically personalized to individuals based on what they just bought or are likely to buy, they don’t engage customers on a one-to-one level. Look at customer behaviors and usage patterns, not just purchase history. For instance, Alice bought a new smartphone from your site last month, downloaded multiple photo editing apps, has taken countless photos and videos in just a few weeks, and is syncing her shots daily to her laptop. Instead of offering a discount on a protective case with a built-in lens adapter for her new device, look at how she is utilizing her phone to recommend educational content that actually provides value. Based on her usage, recommend she enable automatic upload of her photo library to the cloud so she can access photos and videos from all her devices. Reaching consumers right after their purchases with relevant messages that offer valuable resources and information is more effective at creating brand loyalty, which can increase overall customer lifetime value.

  2. Rather than blanket communications with consumers to (hopefully) draw them in with your latest and greatest promotion, reach out to individuals who have indicated they’re ready to engage. For example, if you’re a travel company, you could run a broad campaign showcasing your end-of-summer deals for popular destinations, or you could target people who are actually interested in getting away because they’ve browsed your site for summer destination travel packages, but abandoned without converting. These people have indicated they are looking, so delivering valuable travel tips on the destination they searched for lets you engage with them when it is contextually relevant to them. Even further, including the travel time and daily flight departures to their destination of interest from their closest airport engages prospects on true one-to-one level.

Interested in learning more about one-to-one personalization? Join me and Forrester’s Brendan Witcher for a webinar hosted by Adweek on Tuesday, August 23 where we’ll be discussing why individualization is where the power of personalization lies and how to implement a strategy that delivers both consumer value and business impact utilizing this information.

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