Small business personalization was invented by people like the butcher of an earlier time who knew the cuts of meat preferred by his regular customers. The landscape has changed. Marketers have infinitely more customer information to work with than who prefers sirloin.

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Small businesses seem to still have a leg up when it comes to personalization. They’re innately nimble, immediately and directly responsive, familiar with a niche customer base. It’s an instance when big businesses need to keep up with the little guy or be left behind. Neither the customer at the butcher shop nor the loyal ecommerce buyer will tolerate an impersonalized experience.

Whether small and nimble or large with increasing scale, all businesses are challenged by the anonymous customer. Ninety eight percent of website visitors are anonymous, yet they crave a personalized experience with your brand.

Do as the butcher did when a new customer walked into the shop. Greet the newcomer, pay close attention and, if you squint a little, that anonymous visitor will quickly resemble someone you’ve met. Study the signals she’s sending your way. A picture will emerge.  

At the very least, you can serve up something loosely relevant based on geolocation. She’s from the Midwest where it will be pouring all week? Offer an umbrella! Adobe integrates the Demandbase platform into Adobe Target to tackle these lookups and deliver the right content to the right consumers. This platform deciphers and decodes upwards of 20 percent more anonymous visitors than before, an invaluable asset for small businesses.

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Will they convert? Sometimes. Will they feel that pang of connectivity? Absolutely. Start there—that pang is pretty powerful. Continue following her through your site, picking up on those explicit and implicit signals. The more you know, the more relevant you can be. The more you advance that relationship by delivering greater personalization and strong relevance, the more you’ll build the loyalty that garners more expressed preferences and observational metrics.

Don't get overwhelmed, just think smaller. We’ve established she’s a new visitor. Serve up a first-time offer that will be relevant, no matter her profile. A 20 percent discount certainly isn’t the crème de la crème of personalization, but it’s a solid jumping off point. From there you can engage, collecting the relevant data at conversion. Every business, big or small, can tackle this sort of promotion.

At this stage your job is to learn what your new customer likes, what she doesn’t and what gets her attention. Think of your experience when you get an offer that’s spot-on. You look, consider, share and maybe convert. She will, too. With each response, or lack thereof, you learn more about your new customer.

Your new customer is likely coming to you from different platforms and devices.Think desktop at work, smart phone on the train, tablet after dinner. It’s tough but critical that you recognize her every time. Then you will see her from every angle with clarity and precision as she navigates her day. Cultivate, cull and catalog. Data is great if you can use it, otherwise it doesn’t matter.

For the butcher, the challenge wasn’t the customer who wanted the same cut of meat every week. Likewise, today’s marketer isn’t hard-pressed to speak to a loyalist. The challenge is becoming acquainted with the unknown visitors who comprise the vast majority of site traffic. They’re anonymous but not completely unfamiliar or indecipherable. Establish the basics, then fill in the blanks. An ever sharper image of your customer will emerge. That’s when the real relevance can happen.

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