What is Personalization and How to Use It in Marketing

Everywhere you look, brands are embracing personalization. From the ads that pop up on your newsfeed to the barista at the local coffee shop who greets you by name, customers are growing increasingly accustomed to personalized experiences. While personalization isn't a new concept, recent advances in technology have transformed how and where it can be used.

Whether your audience is interacting with your brand through social media, on its website, or by email, they expect a personalized experience that makes them feel valued and prioritized. In one study, 74% of users reported feelings of frustration when website content was not personalized. Another concluded that personalized email marketing has the potential to generate an average ROI of 122%.

Personalization is vital if you want to increase customer engagement and conversions. But first, you must understand what personalization is and how it can help you improve your business.


What is Personalization?

Personalization is the process of using data to target and retarget leads with a brand message that speaks directly to specific customers’ interests, demographics, and buying behavior. Your customers should feel like the brand message was made just for them, so personalized marketing may sometimes be called one-to-one or individual marketing.

Companies like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube use personalization tactically. Based on what you search, what you purchase, what you watch, and what other consumers with similar histories have bought or watched, these companies will suggest other products, shows, and videos for you to explore.

However, personalization isn't just for digital channels and customer engagement is only one benefit of personalization. Customers are more likely to revisit their favorite hotels, cafes, or salons as well. They’ll show loyalty to brands that make them feel special.

Integrating personalization into your overall marketing efforts will allow you to connect with leads throughout their buyer journey, resulting in improved conversions, decreased bounce rates, and increased lead generation.


Why You Need to Personalize Your Marketing 

Personalization is the difference between your customers feeling like you are speaking directly to them versus feeling like just a number. Whether you're looking to personalize one component of your strategy or transform your entire marketing plan, your business can benefit from a personalized approach in many ways:

  • Better connection with customers: The average person will see around 1,700 advertisements each month. Your message must cut through the noise — not by being louder, but by being more relevant. For instance, with personalized emails that incorporate your leads’ names and other tailored additions, you can see 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates.
  • Increased revenue: Personalized shopping experiences encourage consumers to become repeat buyers, and brands that create personalized experiences see a spike in transactional rates, buyer retention, and revenue per transaction. It also shows up in their bottom line: personalized marketing can boost revenue by up to 15%. And on the contrary, a lack of personalization can damage your brand: 63% of consumers are highly annoyed when brands rely on old-fashioned, generic ad messaging.
  • Improved buyer targeting: When do your customers like to be contacted? How much contact do they want? Eighty-one percent of consumers prefer when brands understand when and how to approach them and keep a respectful distance, so getting to know your audience is a key part of personalization.
  • Stronger brand reputation

People buy from brands that provide them with a customer experience that makes them feel good. Your customers are human beings, and while some sale transactions may be logical in nature, such as a business investment, or need-based such as groceries, many are driven by feelings. Showing that you understand your customers' emotions will make them want to do business with you. Take a brand like the pet company Chewy — they track orders and react to their customers’ buying behaviors with tailored communication efforts. If they discover that a customer stops ordering because of their pet’s death, they will reach out personally to offer condolences. This kind of personal experience makes a lasting impression and will endear a brand to its customers long-term.

  • Enhanced lead generation

When you solve your target audience's problems, it builds trust and makes your customers more willing to provide feedback and information. Although a significant proportion (43%) of consumers say they aren’t willing to provide personal data, 63% say they might be willing to do so if they truly value the product or service being offered. In addition, 63% of millennials, 58% of Gen Xers, and 46% of Baby Boomers reported that as long as their information was used responsibly, they were willing to share it with brands and companies for personalized offers or discounts.

  • More effective customer retargeting

The reality is customers won't buy from you right away. It can take multiple interactions before leads are willing to make a purchase. However, personalization allows you to begin nurturing a relationship, making consumers excited about doing business with you. Sixty-two percent of consumers say that personalized content makes them more likely to look for more information or content about a brand. The more positive experiences your leads have, the closer they move to become a loyal customer.

Personalization is essential to your marketing plan’s success. But even if you have access to customer data and the right tools, you may still be wondering where to begin.


How to Get Started with Personalization

The first step in personalization is to collect data using an analytics platform. This data usually contains consumer ages, household income, demographics, geographical location, devices used, purchasing behavior, browsing habits, and more. You can later optimize the data for future campaigns and utilize market segmentation to target specific subgroups within your audience. A marketing automation tool is a great choice for this piece of the puzzle.

You’ll then need to use customer relationship management software, otherwise known as a CRM. This platform will become the hub for all the customer information gathered from sales calls, third-party data providers, and lead capture forms in one place. Once connected to your other marketing tools, your CRM will automatically update prospect information, so your marketing team always has access to accurate data in real time.

Keep in mind that consumers want to give consent and be informed of when you're tracking their data. It's important to disclose that you monitor user data and offer your consumers the chance to opt-out or give information at will to build trust and transparency between your brand and your consumers. Allowing your customers to create profiles or accounts is one way to do this.

Once you've identified your customer and data management software and instituted privacy guidelines, it's time to put your skills into practice.


Personalization in Practice

Personalized marketing isn't just a marketing theory. It's a proven practice that you can integrate into your current strategy. When you make it a habit to include personalization throughout your marketing funnel, customers are engaged through every step of their decision-making process. Personalization will make it feel like they have a trusted friend who's available to answer their questions and meet their evolving needs.

Your website, email campaigns, and content marketing are three great places to start practicing personalization.

Personalizing Your Website

When personalizing your website, focus on aligning its elements with your target demographic to meet their needs. For example, you can use a visitor’s IP address to create a tailored header or greeting. And consider placing a personalized call-to-action on your site that encourages leads to click through to another page, sign up for an emailing list, or check out your shop. You can also highlight relevant products or service features and recommend solutions to common concerns the customer might have, and even create a blog with targeted content that engages your leads based on their interests, demographics, and behavioral data.

Email Marketing

Generic emails are a thing of the past. To your leads, an impersonal email is no different than spam. It provides little value, and it may even be flagged as junk mail.

Personalizing emails can boost ROI, result in improved engagement, and help to create relevant content. Proven strategies include segmenting your mailing list, utilizing targeted messaging, tracking behavior, retargeting abandoned cart shoppers, and allowing your consumers to tailor their email preferences. You can also use pop culture references in your marketing campaigns that customers will find funny or send friendly birthday emails and coupons to build stronger, more personal relationships with your consumer base.

Content Marketing

Use personalized content to solve your audience’s problems and address your customers’ pain points. Evaluate key data points like website visits, clicked ads, purchase history, and other information against predetermined variables. These can include age, frequency of visitation, referral URLs, gender, location or region, and more. Then use that data to segment your audience based and suggest content to those segments based on what they’re likely to find valuable. You can even provide content to individual customers based on detailed profiles or where they are in your marketing funnel.


Unlock the Benefits of Personalization with Marketing Automation

As your customer and sales management loads grow, it will become harder for your team members to manually track and enter data. To gather, analyze, and apply your consumer information, you'll need to pair your personalization efforts with marketing automation to engage with your customers across channels consistently and efficiently.

With Marketo Engage, you can not only identify and segment your most promising leads by interests and behavior but also tailor your lead nurturing process. From initial contact to point-of-sale, Marketo lets you adjust your messaging for each prospect based on consumer insights and level of engagement.

Marketo Engage’s real-time personalization, audience targeting, and content optimization features will position your business to create impactful campaigns that encourage buyers to take action, without demanding more from your team. Sign up for the Marketo Engage interactive tour to learn how it can help you start personalizing your marketing today.

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