How Personalization is Driving Results

Not so long ago, we were pretty thrilled (or creeped out) to see our name in a subject line, even if it was a sloppy all-caps substitution like “Hello JOHN.SMITH, we have an offer for you!” But technology and personalization have come a long way since then, and superficial personalization isn’t going to cut it.

For one thing, your customers aren’t going to care if your subject lines are personalized when they open the email and it’s completely irrelevant to their needs. That looks like personalization, but it’s not actually tailored to your customers on an individual basis.

These days, personalization requires a far more strategic approach. It’s a way for you to put your messaging in context, keep your customers engaged, and alter the experience of each customer depending on their individual profile and preferences.

Why You Need Personalization

In short: because your customers expect it. The best companies in every industry are personalizing their marketing, and customers have gotten used to marketing that fits their needs. They expect the content in their inboxes and on their social media feeds to be reflective of their interests, and they notice when they’re not. Here’s an example: recently, Chipotle sent out an email to their customers announcing that their carne asada option was back and ready to be ordered. But do you think they sent that email to everyone?

Of course not. Chipotle has incentivized their customers to create accounts with them by offering them a loyalty program, so they can narrow their email down to only the customers that have signed up. That means they know how often you’ve ordered in the past and, more importantly, what you ordered. If you’ve never gotten meat on a burrito, chances are you’re not interested in carne asada, so you didn’t get the email.

There are more competitors in virtually every market than there have ever been, and it’s easier than ever for customers to find them. All this competition has elevated expectations among consumers — they know that what they want is out there and they won’t settle for anything less.

If you’re not working to show your customers and potential customers that you have the solution to their particular problems, they won’t give you a second look.

Connection Matters

Remember, your customers aren’t purely rational. Customers make a lot of decisions based on emotion, and those emotions include loyalty and a sense of connection. Showing your customers you remember them, know what they like, and are ready to provide it, will help develop that brand connection.

How to Get Started

Depending on the business you’re in, your competition, your resources, your customers, and your channels, your strategy will vary. That said, there are a few broad-strokes ideas that you can use to get started.

Use Real Names

We mentioned the use of real names in emails earlier in this article, but it’s still the bare minimum you should be doing to make your content feel more personal. If you have the technical means, you can even set up your website to show people’s real names in landing pages or welcome messages.

Segment Your Emails

We’ve taken a more in-depth look at email segmentation elsewhere, but we’ll touch on the basics here. Segmentation is incredibly important — there are very few instances where an email blast should go to every email address in your database.

Take the Chipotle example from before. We’re very confident that Chipotle doesn’t send emails about meat to people that don’t eat meat. The same goes for subscription-based companies. If you’re sending out an email offering a free two-month trial of your Premium service tier, you don’t want that email to go to people who already have Premium service.

The way you set up your segments is up to you. You can segment people by their purchase history, by how often they read your emails, by whether they’re subscribed to your Facebook page, by job title, by demographics, and more. As long as you’re really thinking about who would actually want to see a given email and who wouldn’t, the possibilities are endless.

Create Targeted Landing Pages

People will arrive at your website from all over the web. Creating specific pages based on the way a customer arrives on your website will improve both their experience and the likelihood they engage with your site, since you can spean to their specific experience.

A custom landing page is easy to build — a few paragraphs of text, maybe a form, and a link to download a whitepaper or text field to sign up for your newsletter. That basic format can be copied and pasted as many times as you want, so there’s really no limit to the number of landing pages you can have.

Following this basic structure allows you to personalize landing pages for any given segment of your customer base, much like emails. Change out the photo in the background based on the user’s location or the time of year. Change the copy depending on whether they clicked on an email or a link on Twitter. Change the offer on the page, depending on whether the person reading it is a repeat customer or a first-timer.

More importantly, keep testing.

The exact segmentation that you use will be unique to your company and your customers, so try out new things, then check the analytics to see what’s working and what’s not.

Numbers You Need to Know

The idea sounds great, but does personalization actually work? Or importantly, is it worth the extra effort? Absolutely. And here’s proof.

Sure, it takes more time to create these segments and look for insights, but the results speak for themselves.

Getting Started

Personalization is a double-edged sword. The more you personalize, the more time you’ll have to spend on segmenting and creating content. This means you might reach fewer people than you would have if you just sent out the same message to everyone you could find.

But the point of personalized messaging is not to cast as wide a net as possible, it’s to reach exactly the people who are likely to engage with and purchase from your company. Customers these days are inundated with marketing messages, so your goal should be to cut through the noise and show people that you are uniquely positioned to solve their problems. If you’re ready to start taking personalized marketing to the next level, get in touch with Madison Taylor Marketing today.

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