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4 tips for creating a personalized marketing strategy

Companies must deliver relevant content and personalize their marketing strategies if they want to see an increase in revenue and brand loyalty.

Many customers want the businesses they interact with to deliver personalized experiences, so it is important for marketing leaders to have a strategy.

Personalized marketing enables companies to deliver individualized content to end users through data collection, analysis and the use of automated technologies. Data collection is key to personalization because the more a company knows about its prospects and customers, the better it can personalize their experiences.

If a customer frequently interacts with a brand, they most likely expect relevant advertisements based on their preferences. Eighty percent of customers are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences and 90% of consumers find personalized marketing appealing.

Benefits of personalization

There are numerous benefits to incorporating personalized marketing strategies into a marketing plan, including:

  • Improved customer experience. Marketing messaging that addresses individual requirements means the company is speaking directly to end users. Customers feel more comfortable with a brand when it meets their individual needs. Companies need to know how their products, services or information it shares to educate the consumer can meet their customer's needs.
  • Increased revenue. Personalized marketing experiences can boost revenue by up to 15%. Consumers are more likely to buy from a company they feel meets their unique needs in making a purchase decision.
  • Increased brand loyalty. As companies collect more data about a person, they can deliver more personalized experiences. Consumers don't want businesses to treat them the same as every other customer, so when companies provide personalized marketing, they gain a competitive advantage in both brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
  • Consistent messaging across channels. Personalized marketing creates consistency across the variety of channels that customers can use to engage with a brand and reinforces the messaging and experience someone has with a company. This supports brand loyalty, but also drives new revenue from new purchases.
  • Improved emotional connection with customers. Buying habits are often emotional, and consumers are looking for the motivations to make their purchasing decisions. When a customer knows or feels that a company is speaking directly to them and addressing their needs, businesses can easily take advantage of that emotion and assist in a purchase. Marketers must look at how to personalize marketing efforts to speak to the target audience as if it were a one-to-one conversation.

While the concept of creating personalized marketing for target audiences is sound, how to personalize marketing is not always the easiest venture to adopt and not every company knows where to begin. Prior to rolling out a personalized marketing campaign, companies should find the right technology, allocate time and resources and know what data is important.

Here are four steps to deliver a personalized marketing strategy to prospects and customers.

1. Establish business goals

To determine the successes or shortcomings of personalized marketing efforts, organizations need to establish and align goals with the overall business objectives. Companies must define what challenges and opportunities exist and how to address them with personalization campaigns. This could manifest itself through increasing revenue, boosting brand awareness, driving engagement or driving repeat purchases. Goals vary across industries, businesses or audiences, but once the organization sets general objectives, it can tie them to KPIs and use them to measure success.

Common business goals that companies can use to drive personalization tactics can include:

  • growing new customer acquisition by 20%;
  • decreasing sales cycle by one month;
  • reducing customer churn by 10%; and
  • reducing cart abandonment rates by 15%.

These goals should be measurable for the purposes of reporting, but also determine which projects and tactics the company should roll out to achieve these goals.

2. Use customer data

Outside of establishing business goals, the real starting point for how to personalize marketing begins with customer data. Data-driven personalization continues to grow in effectiveness for marketing departments. Data enables teams to know enough about someone to deliver the right content at the right time. Historically, companies hoped email blasts or general messages would resonate with their audiences, but today, content strategies and marketing campaigns are much more specific and timely. Sending a marketing email with an offer to someone that the company knows engaged with other similar content is more effective than an email trying to introduce a new topic to that person.

Using both implicit data -- information that prospects do not provide intentionally, such as customer actions and behavior -- and Explicit data -- information that prospective customers provide intentionally through a survey or registration form -- gives a company information on who prospective customers are, where they are from, what their interests are and what content or campaigns in which they engage. By collecting this data, marketing and sales teams can better respond to the needs of that person and deliver relevant messaging.

Companies must define what challenges and opportunities exist and how to address them with personalization campaigns.

Companies can collect this data through website forms for content downloads or purchase history records. Gathering information about content or products someone is interested in, and using certain questions to collect relevant data in these forms, enables marketing departments to segment users into their personalized categories. Marketing teams can use this explicit data from web forms to match against the target customer profile, and enable the company's tracking technologies to associate other website browsing behaviors to that particular user. The user's browsing patterns also provide implicit data by showing products or services they may be interested in based on the pages they visit or the content in which they engage.

One important aspect of data is to ensure data cleanliness. Companies should do data cleanup exercises a handful of times each year. The success of personalized marketing tactics will only be as good as the accurateness of the data marketers have access to. Removing bad data -- such as duplicate names and numbers, or spam and dormant contacts -- from systems and regularly checking that data meets an organization's parameters for quality data will improve the end user's experience.

3. Have the right technology

The marketing technology landscape can be difficult to navigate with so many options, including generalized all-in-one products and individual tools for specific applications. To deploy a personalized marketing strategy, there are some technologies that are must-haves, such as web content management systems (WCMSes) and CRM tools, while others will enable organizations to scale online personalization efforts, such as marketing automation platforms and account-based marketing technology.

Many of the following tools enable marketing teams to input rules and logic that ensure that the company uses clean data to deliver a personalized experience. Today, a personalized message goes beyond using someone's first name in an email. Businesses must use the right technology to deliver relevant messages to the user.

Here is an overview of some of the most common tools that businesses can use to create personalized experiences and scale their targeted marketing efforts.

Must-haves for a personalization strategy

WCMSes
Today's advanced WCMSes are evolving as the need for personalization influences the capabilities of their software. These tools enable marketers to organize and tag their content, and follow a user's journey -- in conjunction with either third-party or built-in tracking functionality, such as using browser cookies. A WCMS that offers dynamic content capabilities enables web administrators to change content that displays on a page based on an individual user's browsing patterns or past interactions on the website. Showing related content or products based on previous website visits and purchases creates a unique experience for each visitor.

CRM tools
If a company doesn't use a marketing automation tool to manage lead and contact records, it is useful to have a CRM system. This technology acts as the database of record for all contacts that engage with a brand. Marketing and sales teams can use this information to track purchase history or other data from user conversations or actions. When companies integrate their CRM system, WCMS and marketing automation platform, the systems can speak to one another, providing more accurate and actionable data when it comes to triggering automation events, segmenting customers or displaying content to the users.

Nice-to-haves for a personalization strategy

Marketing automation platforms
Marketing automation platforms can track user behavior on a website and serve up content like a WCMS, but they also collect data via lead generation forms and enable marketers to create customer profiles and segment marketing lists based on that data. Many of the top marketing automation platforms -- such as Marketo and Omnisend -- also enable email marketing, social publishing and digital advertising. Marketing automation tools can use specific actions or inputs from a user to segment users based on rules that the marketing team makes. These actions and segments can trigger tasks, such as sending an email or displaying a pop-up ad, and encourage a user further into their journey.

For example, a marketer could set up a personalization rule in marketing automation platform that addresses all users that have the title "VP of marketing" based on session cookies. When those users visit the website from a social media post or an email click-through, the marketing automation platform would tell the page to display a message that is relevant to VPs of marketing. Whatever information the software knows about the user, a marketing team can set rules to display a unique message to specific users, beyond just their name.

Account-based marketing technology
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy to hyperfocus on a particular person or company and deliver personalized marketing experiences, both online and offline. ABM software delivers hyperpersonalized messaging to users wherever they are on the web. Offline ABM strategies can also be translated into a personalized online experience. Personalized URLs in handwritten letters and event marketing are examples of offline to online experiences.

4. Stay current

Personalized marketing efforts require constant monitoring of their performance and optimization based on the data that marketers collect and experiences expected against business goals. When marketers don't use AI, they define the parameters of which prospects and customers receive a personalized marketing experience. Revisiting those rules or adding to them enables these personalized campaigns to stay current. Marketers will introduce new content and new offers in their messaging and may also bring in new technologies to support these efforts.

Marketing teams should also make sure to review analytics. The performance of the personalized marketing tactics will show what is working and what isn't. Armed with that data, marketing teams can make adjustments to their campaigns to ensure they meet the primary objectives.

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