All forms of effective digital marketing have one thing in common: Personalization.
For example, one of the first things any good copywriter learns is write as if each reader is the only person the message is intended for. People don’t want to feel like they’re one of thousands of “ladies and gentlemen” in an audience ... they want to feel a connection.
One of the most powerful ways to do that is through personalized marketing.
Personalized marketing draws data from the user’s profile and uses it to customize a message so it’s as close to individual as can be. By using personalization at each customer touchpoint, it’s possible to build trust and rapport even before speaking to a prospect.
Personalized Marketing Goes Beyond the Mailing List
At this point, those with some marketing experience are probably raising this objection: “We use personalized marketing all the time – but we don’t really know anything about our prospects until they’ve at least signed up for our mailing list.”
It’s true that getting people on your list opens the floodgates of what you can learn about them.
However, personalized marketing is so powerful and versatile that it can be used even before you have traditional opportunities to capture data about prospects. Just by accessing your website, prospects offer huge quantities of information.
For example, you can use personalization to drive customized communication based on ...
The User’s Location and Language
No matter where they are in the world, all users provide location and language information as soon as they enter your site. Sure, language preferences can be changed from inside any browser, and location can be spoofed – with much greater difficulty – but, for all intents and purposes of the marketing numbers game, you can trust this data to be accurate.
For some marketers, this can be pivotal to providing a valuable and informative Web experience.
Imagine a business that provides tours of historic Amsterdam. Tourists visiting the city may come from Germany, France, England, or the United States. In each case, they can be presented with information in their own language.
Look at another scenario: If someone whose browser is set to display Japanese logs in from France or Belgium, we can assume they are visiting nearby and are thinking about booking a tour. Personalization can provide them with the right incentives right away.
Of course, that’s not all. If a certain type of tour is very popular with Germans, for example, the information about that particular offer can be displayed prominently when the visitor arrives. This doesn’t beat a custom landing page, but it will help direct different groups to the right info.
The User’s Device Type and Browser
These days, if you’re not customizing your experience for each device type, you’re falling behind the competition. We live in a mobile-first world, and there’s no greater evidence of this than Google’s recent changes prioritizing mobile in its Web crawling and ranking algorithms.
It’s not the most exciting use of personalization, but definitely the most basic: Make sure your whole site renders beautifully on desktops, laptops, cell phones, and tablets. In particular, be sure that your shopping cart or other e-commerce functionality works as expected for mobile users.
The Referring Link
Users can get to your site through social media links, pay-per-click ads, organic search, or even direct links sent to them in email and instant messages. No matter how they arrive, you make it more likely that they will share your content when you make it easier for them. For example, a Facebook user is more likely to click that convenient “share to Facebook” link.
Previous Activities on Your Site or Other Web Properties
Shopping cart abandonment is a menace for all kinds of online brands. Now, with clever use of your tracking pixel and analytics, you can remind users about activities they were involved in during their last visit to your site. That might be just the thing to get them to finish that purchase!
Turning Prospects into Customers Through Personalized Marketing
Now, your prospects are roaming freely throughout your website. With luck, they’re moving through your funnel as they access more detailed, specific content. But there’s no telling how long you’ll be able to hold their attention. Once again, personalization makes the difference.
If you’ve been following a strong content strategy, each one of your blogs focuses on a specific pain point. Your visitors might experience all, some, or just a few of these pains. But, when they read one blog post instead of another, it gives you another clue about their needs.
With this in mind, every post – every one! – should have a personalized call to action.
That doesn’t mean each individual post needs to be associated with an offer, of course. That would be virtually impossible. However, each pain point deserves an offer of its own that appears prominently throughout the post.
Let’s imagine the example of a job placement agency:
- Some prospects will be looking for immediate help after being fired;
- Others will be interested in retraining to improve their professional skills;
- Still others will be satisfied with work, but feeling the bite of workplace stress.
Each of these people might benefit from the information on the agency’s blog, but they’re only likely to buy certain kinds of services. When looking at content related to their pain point, they should prominently see the offer that’s most relevant to them.
Building Customer Value and Creating Lifetime Fans
To continuously refine and personalize your message, you need to gather deeper information about your users over time – a process called progressive profiling.
As a basic rule, you should aim to entice your users to fill out forms with more penetrating and specific questions as they engage further with your brand. The more you know about a user’s needs, preferences, and past behaviors, the more powerful personalized marketing becomes.
Early in the buyer journey, start with the most critical questions you need to know – but be careful, as asking more than a handful of tight, innocent-seeming questions can easily turn a prospect off. Over time, develop tailored forms that offer more detailed questions.
Now, with warm leads or recent customers on your list, it’s time to think email automation.
In fact, email automation provides the template for much of what personalized marketing is now growing into. For years, brands have been sending emails based on customers’ preferences and interests – but now, those messages can be more granular than ever before.
Think of these customization points that advanced email automation can offer:
- Did the subscriber read your most recent message? Did they click the link?
- What has the subscriber purchased recently? Any abandoned shopping carts?
- What content has the reader looked at on your website in the last month?
- What items have they bought in the past? For how much? With what discounts?
Email automation is an exciting way to simulate a one-to-one relationship with prospects. When it comes to lively, enlightening brand communication, however, email automation is a midpoint in the process. With creativity and the right technology, personalized marketing can be used in every customer touchpoint – making each buyer journey more unique than ever.