These days, personalization is the name of the marketing game. Instead of casting a wide net, personalized marketing uses customer data to deliver a more one-to-one message targeted to an individual customer or prospect. Doing so improves the customer experience, which in turn makes you more money.
Analytics, customer data, and market research are key to personalization in marketing – but is it possible without being spammy or worse, creepy? We think so.
The dirty little secret behind customer personas is – most marketers just make it up. Mapping out representations of your ideal customer helps you develop better products, create more relevant content, and spend your time focusing on qualified leads. But unless they’re based on actual customer data and market research, customer personas are nothing more than fictional characters.
Gather enough data so that you can create a customer profile based on a range of factors. Start with age, gender, income, location, interests, and pain points. Then move on to shopping habits like frequency, what incentives they respond to, and what information they need to make a decision. You can gather detailed and accurate customer data through market research like focus groups, polls, or surveys.
That being said, gather your data with care. We can understand your excitement about collecting information about your customers that you can use to improve sales and service. But just like in the dating world, moving too fast with your data collection will scare some people away.
Be patient and get to know your customers over time. Instead of sending them a 25-question form right off the bat, ask one or two questions here and there. The longer survey may be overwhelming and cause people to quit halfway through. You can collect the data from shorter surveys in a central place and build a profile over time.
Personalization in email marketing goes way beyond “Dear *|FNAME|*”.Tools like Mailchimp and others let you target individual customers (automatically) based on which links they click or which products they view. If you know a customer is browsing for cooking spices on your e-commerce site, you can send them recipes, recommendations for similar products, or heck, how about a coupon code?
The more personalized your marketing emails, the greater their revenue-driving power (up to 18x higher, says HuffPo). Bonus points if you know your audience well enough to choose the perfect pop culture references to include your emails—in gif form, of course.
When you know your audience’s habits and behaviors, you can predict their future needs. And make helpful suggestions based on those needs. Your customer has just booked a hotel room? Perhaps they want to enjoy the breakfast buffet or onsite spa services. Can you help them find a rental car or book a local tour? Or for business customers, you might send a guide to coworking spaces in the area.
This technique works at multiple stages of the buyer’s journey, too. Besides add-ons or upgrades, you can provide valuable content based on anticipated customer needs. Send them more of the type of content they consume most from you, or provide a helpful how-to for the product they just purchased.
Research shows personalization reduces the cost of customer acquisition by as much as half, while at the same time raising customer lifetime value. Start gathering data today that can lead you to happier customers and more ROI for your marketing dollar.