What is Personalized Marketing & How Can You Excel at It? [Examples]

Last updated on by Tyson Quick in Marketing Personalization

Personalization has changed marketing from the bottom up, improving the customer experience, and, in turn, making businesses more profitable. Yet, many companies continue to fail at implementation. The overzealous ones appear creepy. The lazy ones settle for adding a first name to email subject lines. Some are so confused they don’t even try. Today, we clear up some questions surrounding personalization, and what it takes to get right.

What is marketing personalization?

Marketing personalization, also known as personalized marketing or one-to-one marketing, is the practice of using data to deliver brand messages targeted to an individual prospect. This method differs from traditional marketing, which mostly relied on casting a wide net to earn a small number of customers. With billboards, cold calls, mailings, and more, traditional marketing emphasized quantity of messages over their relevance. Later, analytics became more sophisticated and data on individual prospects grew. Today, marketers take advantage of both to deliver prospects the most relevant message at the ideal time.

Why personalized marketing?

If you’re a traditional marketing mind, you may wonder why businesses are out with the old and in with the new. In plain terms, it started with consumers, who, after years of bombardment with irrelevant marketing messages, began tuning out.

They hung up on the telemarketer, they flipped the channel as meaningless ads permeated their lives: in cars, offices, even homes. Soon, they couldn’t escape the feeling that businesses didn’t really want to help solve their problems. Businesses wanted to make money, even if it meant interrupting a family dinner or the Super Bowl. That perception lingers today. Research shows that 63% of consumers are highly annoyed with the way brands continue to blast generic advertising messages repeatedly.

What customers want, instead, is marketing personalization. According to an Epsilon survey of 1,000 consumers aged 18-64:

More than half of consumers even say they’re willing to hand over their personal information, so long as you use it to benefit them. So, how do you use it to benefit them?

Marketing personalization strategies

It’s not easy to determine the benefits your customers are seeking at any moment. The reason, primarily, is that those specific benefits vary from situation to situation, business to business. However, there are three common strategies that every brand can build of off of to ensure they create a strong personalized marketing plan:

Your personalization strategy should span every device and channel, and your CRM should reflect anything you’ve learned about your prospect along the way. Avoid scenarios like those above, and instead, aim to know exactly what your prospects have done, the kind of messaging they’ve responded to, the type of content they like, their communication preferences, and more.

If you know they read a lot of your content on social media marketing, send them more content about social media marketing. Send them blog posts, podcasts, ebooks, and tip sheets. If they’ve already bought your product, make them aware of newer versions, bug fixes, use cases that help them take advantage of its full potential. Successful personalization in the funnel is like playing chess. You have to think several moves ahead.

Benefits of personalized marketing

The preceding are strategies, and when you start perfecting them, tweaking them with more data, your customers start to see the following benefits, which apply to all businesses:

On a broad scale, this could be blog posts optimized for popular keyword search terms throughout each stage of the marketing funnel. On a more granular level, it may look like a chat module that allows your business to respond to customer issues immediately. The sooner you make yourself available, the better, research has found. According to a study on lead response time, the chance of converting a lead is 100x greater if contacted within five minutes. The more data you gather, and the deeper you dig, the more you’ll discover what your leads are looking for when they make contact. And once you’ve done that, you can serve them what they need the moment they need it.

The tools for personalization

The biggest challenge of personalization is scaling it. Obviously, you can’t manually create an email for every customer. You can’t manually create an ad for every prospect. But, you have to maintain that appearance, and that requires the right tools. For starters, here’s what you’ll need:

That user data could be, for example, age, household income, browsing habits, purchasing behavior, demographics, location, device, and more. Then, the DMP can analyze the performance of those segments and assist in the optimization of future campaigns.

Unlike regular web pages, landing pages are designed to drive prospect action — to get them to sign up, download, buy, etc. They accomplish this with a 1:1 conversion ratio, message match, a lead capture form, and several other persuasive elements. And because every landing page needs to match the ad it comes from to maximize personalization, scaling landing page creation with manual coding dries up far too many resources. Landing page platforms like Instapage help you create and manage these pages in a fraction of the time and cost it would to take otherwise.

Consumers say they’re more likely to respond well to an email if it looks like it’s made for them. Dynamic content can accomplish this, as can segmenting, or sending emails based on behavioral triggers, say, after an ebook is downloaded or your pricing page is viewed. And it doesn’t even have to be that complicated. Using simple data like name and birthday, you can send a gimmick-free birthday email to prospects on your mailing list. It sounds simple and maybe even useless without a CTA, but more and more, customers appreciate brands who treat them like the people they are over the money they have.

Using a tag management software like Google Tag Manager allows you to add, delete, update all your tags from one place. It also means your page load times won’t get bogged down by tag after tag, as the code for GTM need only be added to the back-end of web pages once.

Personalized marketing examples

“Personalization” gets used a lot in blog posts, reports — too much, maybe. It’s become a buzzword with muddled meaning. Some hear it and think name in subject line. Others think it more to do with algorithms so powerful they identify expecting mothers from buying behavior. Really, the best personalization lands somewhere between the two. Here are some great examples to use for inspiration:

Video

Video may seem like a medium that’s hard to personalize, but with some effort, it’s possible. Take, for example, this video created for HubSpot Academy Sales Professor, Kyle Jepsen:

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“This particular brand could have just superimposed each recipient’s name onto the whiteboard in this video and kept the same script for each one,” said Amanda Zantal Wiener in a company blog post. “But it didn’t stop there — Cole, the gentleman speaking in the video, not only addressed Kyle by his first name but also referred to his specific colleagues and the conversations he had with them.”

Digital advertising

When creating any form of internet advertising, personalization is paramount. Internet users respond to relevance and trust. Anything outside of that won’t earn conversions.

To establish relevance and trust through personalization, every campaign’s ad and landing page must match. That means headline, imagery, logos, and brand colors. Together, these reinforce your brand identity and assure visitors that they’re in the right place while delivering what was promised in the advertisement.

Here’s a great example of message match from Search Engine Land:

Email

Today, businesses can work marketing magic with email. Messages via this channel are non-invasive, they’re easily consumable, and they’re also highly customizable. Using dynamic content, email subscribers can receive offers uniquely tailored to their demographics, psychographics, firmographics and behavior. Here’s a great example of dynamic content from Sephora, which has this particular campaign set to deliver one email if the recipient has spent more than $200, and another if they don’t:

Social media

While it was once one-way photo and text-blasting to followers, social media has become highly personalized. Likely, you’re familiar with Facebook’s “trending” bar, which is tailored to the behavior of prospects. Its Facebook Pixel is also one of the most powerful retargeting tools in marketing. Implanting it on the back-end of a web page allows marketers to target people on Facebook who didn’t convert.

Other examples of increasing personalization are Snapchat’s geofilters and games, Twitter accounts dedicated to individualized customer support, and recently, Instagram’s newest emoji slider feature, which allows account holders to poll their followers. In that poll (pictured below), the emoji can be slid from left to right to indicate how strongly a user agrees or disagrees. That information can then be used for more personalized content in the future. Here’s an example of an Instagram poll by Junon Jewelry:

Start implementing your own personalized marketing

McKinsey research shows personalization reduces acquisition costs as much as 50%, lifts revenues by 5-15%, and increases the efficiency of marketing spend by 10-30%. On the flipside:

Start personalizing the customer experience with Instapage, the most robust post-click optimization platform available.