Being a marketer who wants to grow sales consistently is a little like trying to put a Mafia kingpin behind bars. You know he’s out there. A bunch of people have theories about how to find him. The pain lies in actually doing it.
This constant battle of wits makes marketers open to any and every idea that remotely suggests the possibility of a bump in numbers, even though most are a complete waste of time. This is not one of them. This is an idea that has been screaming to be taken seriously for years, yet very few brands have taken heed. Mind you, the ones that have, have benefited enormously. So what is it after all?
It’s good old personalization.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, consumers are quite willing to part with personal information in exchange for a user experience that is more personal, meaningful and eventually productive. Accenture found that 73 percent of consumers explicitly prefer businesses that personalize their shopping experiences.
Marketers seem to realize this too. In a study of more than 1,500 marketers worldwide, Teradata found that 90 percent of them believed that the future of marketing lay in going beyond segmentation to personalization, down to an individual level. Trouble is, they don’t seem to be doing very much about it. Data was considered the most under-utilized asset by 46 percent of marketers according to this same survey in 2013. The following year, a whopping 87 percent of marketers admit to not putting user data to good use.
Some effective ways of personalizing your marketing as you head into 2016 include:
1. Personalized email campaigns.
I’m not referring to personalized subject lines here. Those have been done to death. Instead, I’m talking about building email marketing programs that are customized to the individual level. Send out targeted, timely emails that refer to specific actions the user performed on your site or in your store, then suggest the next steps you want them to take. Did they just make their first purchase? Send them a “Welcome to the family” email. Items forgotten in their shopping carts? Send abandoned cart reminder emails.
Data shows that personalized emails offer transaction rates that are six times higher than mass emails. Time to get personal!
2. A welcoming website.
Your website is the face of your business on the Internet. When you don’t acknowledge a returning customer online, it’s akin to ignoring a returning customer who walks into your store. Who’d want to do that?
From a personal greeting that uses the consumer’s name to custom content based on their past browsing behavior, profile information or referring sites, the possibilities are endless.
Personalization makes an emotional connect at a deeper level than mass targeting. Which is why the gaming industry makes more money than Hollywood. And I’m not necessarily talking about GTA on my PlayStation 4. Take Bowling Paradise 3, for example. This fun game allows users to personalize their own “virtual alleys” to exotic locales like underwater, outer space, or even a desert setting. The ecommerce equivalent of that would be last viewed items, complementary items, trending items, etc.
3. Get face-to-face on social media.
Most people consider social media as a one-size-fits-all platform. This could not be farther from the truth. The power that social media offers businesses is the opportunity to reach out to users as people, not faceless businesses, to build bonds and develop loyalties.
Twitter has always offered brands the choice of sending direct messages to individual fans. This feature was recently made more robust by removing the 140 character limit from direct messages. This means you can reach out one-on-one with customers without worrying about limited space. Facebook too now allows Pages to send personal messages, albeit in a more roundabout fashion.
4. Get inside users’ pockets with mobile.
Mobile has been the playground for all marketing that’s “new,” “innovative” or “cutting edge” over the last few years. This means businesses have scrambled to catch up on the mobile front. From responsive web design to dedicated mobile apps to mobile advertising to native content made for mobile, there’s a bunch of things that have worked on mobile.
Considering how personal the medium is, the lack of personalization so far is rather surprising. There’s so much data a mobile device offers you that can be mined for relevant, personal marketing messages. Use the consumer’s location data to send them geo-targeted offers. The device type can help in filtering out low value users from potentially higher value ones. Further, iBeacons deployed inside stores can spur user action on a near instant basis.
The probable use cases for personalization don’t end here. From pre-identifying customers when they call into your customer care numbers to sending out ecommerce shipments with little personalized notes inside, you have the option of going as high or low tech as your budgets permit. What is absolutely impermissible though, it not applying the gold mine of customer information that you have access to for growing your business.