Why is research so important when it comes to personalization?
I have good news and bad news regarding personalized marketing messages. Letʼs start with the bad news: you have to thoroughly know your audience first, which can cost a lot of time and money. You have to know what they are looking for and when; how they like to communicate and through which mediums; and whether or not they even trust you. The good news, however, is that you already needed to know these things for long-term marketing success. The challenge now is making all this information work together in a way that makes your audience feel special,
instead of worried about privacy.
Personalization in 2014 is an extension of the 2013 marketing trend “big data.” Access to lots of integrated data is imperative to being able to most effectively deliver personalized messages. And yet, according to Allen Bonde and the Digital Clarity Group, many marketers continue to struggle with big data (i.e., what data they have, what they can do with it, how to change the data being collected, confidence in the data collected, analyzing the data, and/or acting on the data).
Big data paints a better picture of your current and prospective customers. This better picture allows for personalization. Focusing on messaging to women ages 25 to 45 is not personal. These women are waiting for brands that “get them” and understand how they are unique. A new mom has a very different perspective and needs than an empty nester. But all new moms are not equal either. They have different incomes, ethnic backgrounds, world perspectives, and desires to hear from marketers. Understanding the nuances and crafting personalized messages will delight customers and entice engagement and/or purchase. These messages will take more time to pinpoint and craft, but the return should be greater.
Imagine this, my airlineʼs frequent flyer program (and thus, the airline I use most) already knows where I fly to most often, the length of my average stay, what time of year I fly, and how far in advance I buy my tickets. This is a lot of great information. What if the program sent me a note that it is time to plan for my next trip and that my ticket will be cheaper to buy today compared to a week from now? Or what if they send me a discount code to buy my next trip ticket with them? It would be easy keep me as a customer by making my life easier. Imagine what they could do with seat preference.
Want more good news? Your audience can, and often wants to, help you deliver a personalized message. Consider Netflix and how different family members can set up individual profiles under a single account, or how Facebook mobile allows users to hide ads. Both brands allow their audience to define their personalized message and reduce frustration. Going back to the airline frequent flyer program example, what if they asked ahead of time what I would like to eat or drink during the flight? My flight could be nicer and the jobs of flight attendants easier if they already knew what to carry down the aisle. Even better, what if I never ask for a drink because I always bring a bottle of water with me and then, after refusing so many beverages, I get an airport voucher for the day I travel to pick up a bottle on them? I just helped them personalize my experience and strengthen my loyalty.
Ultimately, your audience wants to know you are thinking about them and a generalized message is no longer good enough. Dig deeper into how they think and feel and allow them to help you to find success with personalization.
Reference: Allen Bonde, 2013. “Thinking Small: Bringing the Power of Big Data to the Masses.” Digital Clarity Group.