Taking a personal approach has always been the best way to get your message across. Whether you are communicating with your customers or just chatting to your friends, no matter who the audience, putting your message into terms that is relevant for them will make your message stronger and clearer. It has long been a key factor in highly successful marketing campaigns and direct marketing saw a significant growth in the late twentieth century as a result of this type of communication becoming more and more accessible. The growth of digital has increasingly allowed us to do more and we are now at an exciting stage where the realms of possibility are immense and the questions are more why and when than how. Indeed many surveys of marketeers in recent months have shown that improved personalization is the number 1 goal for them in the coming 12 months, for example a survey by Evergaze in June 2015 found that 91% of marketers use or intend to use personalization within the next year.
Defining True Personalization
So what do we mean by True Personalization ? Well, there are many ways to ensure your message is tailored to the individual and we have been using many of these for decades. Including your name in the salutation ‘Dear Mr Doe’ or ‘Hi John’ is probably the most common. There is also the practice of pulling a fact about your customer from the database and inserting it into the communication such as ‘Because we know you love skiing, we’d like to tell you about this great alpine vacation offer’. These are all great methods but they don’t quite go deep enough to really be tailored.
Segmentation can be used and this certainly helps to ensure your message remains relevant whilst keeping the logistics and costs of fulfilment down. This is not personalisation though. Treating people exactly the same as other people due to a few common factors is never going to fully resonate with everyone.
Take the incisive television commercial from eHarmony in the UK (2015). The commercial references the fact that the two individuals on screen are the same age and both like long walks on the beach and that for some websites that is enough to make them a match. We see that one of the individuals is a young man and the other is a camel. This is a good (and pretty funny) way of bringing to life the fact that segmentation is not the answer if you really want your customers to get a truly personalized service.
There are 2 key methods of personalization that get us to the goal. In simple terms, you can let the individual tell you want they want (User-defined personalisation) or you learn what they want (behavioural personalisation).
You can read a great case study on Personalization here or for more detail grab a copy of my international best-seller, Digital Marketing Strategy.