What is Personalised Marketing and Why It Matters

Consumers are flooded with content. Fighting for their attention in the constant din is becoming costlier and more difficult.

Browsing your news feed and seeing irrelevant ads, offers, and promotions is frustrating.

Personalised marketing tailors messages to consumers based on unique characteristics. The strategy finds ads that are relevant to individuals instead of sending one message to anyone who’ll listen.

Personalised marketing, also known as marketing personalisation shows different content depending on how they interact with your business.

Content that can be personalised includes:

  • Emails
  • Website copy
  • Social media posts
  • eBooks
  • Webinars
  • Surveys, Polls, and Quizzes

These are some of the most popular examples.

Note that setting up personalisation campaigns is a delicate task.

Marketers need to offer tailor-made content without being creepy. Remember the infamous story of a father in Minnesota who wanted to know why his daughter received promotional material for baby products?

Well, it turned out that she was pregnant! And the retailer knew this before the daughter herself!

The retailer used legally collected consumer data to make an accurate prediction. Some marketers still wonder if it’s great marketing or an invasion of privacy.

I think it’s creepy and unacceptable.

According to the Harvard Business Review, while consumers want to keep their privacy, they also like a personalised marketing experience.

In a recent study, nearly 80% of consumers claimed that companies knew too much about them. However, 90% of those surveyed were also willing to hand over “behavioural data” for a more personalised experience.

While there aren’t any concrete numbers, the average person sees around 5,000 marketing messages daily.

As a result, user engagement is going down, making it increasingly difficult for marketers to vie for attention. 

Since our attention spans are saturated, marketers only have 8 seconds to grab the user’s attention.

We have reached the point where marketing personalisation is a requirement. With machine learning and marketing automation working together, even small businesses can deliver personalised experiences.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Personalised Marketing

What Makes Personalised Marketing So Powerful?

Personalised Marketing Guidelines

Control

Explanation

Some Final Ground Rules

Getting Started with Marketing Personalisation

Research Your Audience

Is Personalisation For You?

Image Personalisation

Email Personalisation

Email Personalisation Tactics

E-Commerce

Personalised Suggestions

Recently Viewed

Location-Based Personalisation

Cart Abandonment

Website

Customise Web Services

Social Media Personalisation

Personalise Social Media Content for Local Audience

Personalised Retargeting Ads

Personalised Messaging

One-on-One Interaction

Personalised Social Media Quizzes

Wrapping Up

Benefits of Personalised Marketing

Personalised marketing will be one of the key drivers of growth in the years to come. New advances in data science and analytics allow marketers to create more natural buying experiences.

According to the most recent statistics:

According to a study from the University of Texas, personalisation gives us control over what we see. This way we avoid information overload.

Companies that implement personalisation will:

  • Generate more leads: people will engage with personalised content, which increases your chances of converting them.
  • Improve brand loyalty: make your audience feel special with personalised engagement. This translates into brand loyalty.
  • Optimise Facebook ads: relevant messages garner positive feedback. As a result, your Facebook relevance score will improve and the cost of ads will decrease.
  • Increase brand awareness: Once users establish a bond with your business, it’s more likely that they will tell their inner circle about you.

One final point before we continue. Personalisation is an absolute must for retailers:

Image Source: socialbakers

As you can see, personalisation has a large impact on shoppers’ buying decisions – it helps turn prospects into customers.

So, it’s not a question of “nice-to-have”, but rather “must-have.”

What Makes Personalised Marketing So Powerful?

Marketing personalisation is how marketers grab our attention. They upstage the competition.

But only when done properly. You get your audience to stop and focus on your content as if they’re trying to figure out if a picture is photoshopped.

Psychologists describe this tactic as pattern interruption because it disrupts well-established behaviour.

You don’t want your audience to simply browse your website – you want them glued to your content.

Personalised marketing is much more than ‘happy birthday’ messages or emails addressing you by name. Even though that’s a part of it. The digital landscape has matured. Personalisation creates brand-new experiences for users based on their previous interactions with your business.

Personalised Marketing Guidelines

Personalised ads provide a customer-centric experience for your audience. This is what makes them compelling.

People don’t act rationally when it comes to privacy. We may divulge personal details to strangers while keeping secrets from people close to us.

Still, there are proven (and acceptable) ways to make people feel comfortable with sharing personal information.

However, we first need to set some guidelines. Only after can we look at how personalisation boosts your marketing.

Consumers are worried about giving up control over their data.

There are two crucial things you should do allay their concerns:

  • Give people control over their data
  • Explain why you need their information

A revealing study comes from MIT which can help you think about personalisation.

Control

They ran Facebook ads for a charity that targeted users with a “Help girls in East Africa change their lives through education” call-to-action.

Half of the users saw personalised ads including something they shared on Facebook. For example, if a user liked Oprah Winfrey on Facebook, the ad would read, “as a fan of Oprah, you know that strong women are important.”

During the study, Facebook changed its privacy policy giving users more control over their data. For instance, users could keep their connections private.

What’s interesting is that the personalised ads performed poorly before the policy change.

In fact, people were more likely to click on generic ads. However, after the changes, users started clicking on the personalised ads.

The takeaway here is that people may not be against giving up personal data in specific instances. The concern is that they can’t decide who else gets to use it.

As a result, marketers need to give their audience meaningful control over their data. When consumers knowingly give their data and can see how it’s used, personalised marketing is effective.

Do not keep them in the dark about how you’re using their data.

Explanation

Another insightful experiment comes from the University of Illinois. They used users’ physical location to run ads.

The ads performed poorly.

Then they explained in the ad copy that location was needed because the service was only available in some places.

As expected, this boosted ad performance.

This means that providing a reasonable explanation can put people at ease. If you find it hard to provide a reasonable explanation for collecting users’ data, then rethink your marketing strategy.

Therefore, be upfront with your audience and tell them why you need their data. Do not conceal anything from them. While you may get away with it in the short term, it’s not a viable option.

People are becoming more tech-savvy, and regulators are pushing companies to be honest about their data collection procedures.

It’s only a matter of time before consumers discover the shady practices companies are using. And once the damage is done, it’s difficult to repair that relationship.

Some Final Ground Rules

For starters, avoid sensitive information when setting up a personalisation strategy. This refers to people’s race, sexual orientation, health, etc.

Facebook prevents advertisers from targeting users based on attributes like race or medical history. Google has also adopted this policy.

So, companies need other ways to find their audience. One possible solution is to advertise on websites and platforms which their audience visits.

Don’t forget about old-fashioned data collection. This means using surveys to learn more about the preferences of your audience. We will take a closer look at surveys and polls later.

Getting Started with Marketing Personalisation

Personalisation begins with collecting data. Marketers believe in the power of personalisation, but 60% struggle to use it properly.

Before you can start with personalised marketing, you need to know your audience. So, let’s go over some of the ways that you can gather relevant information.

Research Your Audience

Marketers need to have a clear picture of their audience. This is true for any campaign. However, it’s especially true for personalised marketing.

Before you can start with any type of personalisation, you need to know your audience. Building a customer avatar will help you deliver personalised marketing experiences.

Researching your target audience in great detail will give you the insight to make relevant personalised services.

Luckily, social media is a treasure trove of actionable information about your audience. You can easily glean the following:

  • Ages
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Favourite websites and apps
  • Preferred devices of your audience

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. As you continue to pursue your social media strategy, you’ll discover new details.

Twitter

Start your research by heading to Twitter Analytics and opening the Audiences tab. Here you’ll see information on current followers and your target audience:

Image Source: Social Media Examiner

When you look at your (real) followers, you’ll see the following information:

  • Their broad interests (things like travelling, cooking, cats, etc)
  • Occupations
  • Relationship status
  • Devices they use to browse the app

Of course, you can always go into more detail and make audience avatars using larger audiences bases. Go to the Audiences tab and choose All Twitter Users from the drop-down menu. Then select Persona: All Twitter in the search bar.

The filtering options in the Filter Audience Group pop-up menu are extensive. You can choose:

  • Demographics: you can target your audience based on traits like gender and household income.
  • Lifestyle: interests.
  • Personas: you can pick various categories of personas, including Generation X, Millennials, Seniors, Parents, and College grads among others.
  • Consumer Behaviour: choose among various buying styles such as premium brands buyer, weight-conscious and so on.
  • Mobile Device: filter your audience based on whether they use Android or iOS.

Twitter is a good place to start and get useful information on your audience. However, you won’t get all the necessary information to launch a personalised marketing experience properly.

You’ll have to branch out and use other tools.

Facebook Audience Insights

Another useful free tool that will help you with research is Facebook Audience Insights. To get started, open Ads Manager, select All Tools and click on Audience Insights:

Image Source: Social Media Examiner

Then you’ll be prompted to choose an audience. Pick Everyone on Facebook:

Image Source: Social Media Examiner

Make sure to use Facebook Audience Insights only after you have a general understanding of your audience. For instance, you know where they live, their ages, and gender. This is why you should start with Twitter.

Facebook will help you go beyond the basic information.

Let’s say that we want to research people who meet the following criteria:

  • Between 30 – 50 years old
  • Live in the United States
  • All genders
  • Interested in Business and Industry

Then we can target those people in Audience Insights:

Image Source: Social Media Examiner

Facebook will offer more detailed information about your audience. You can find out what Facebook pages your audience likes, what devices they use, job roles, industries in which they work and much more.

Use this information to build a highly-relevant customer avatar.

Image Source: Social Media Examiner

Social media has a lot of the information we need to provide personalised content.

Site Analytics

Look at your site analytics to learn more about your website visitors. You’ll discover what keywords they used to find you, what pages they visited and how long they stayed on your website. You can also see what devices they used to reach your site.

Is Personalisation For You?

You can read many articles promising unbelievable returns from personalisation tactics. And while personalising emails or calls-to-action is useful, doing so just because you can is a mistake.

There are instances when a universal experience will do.

Ask yourself whether you can implement it and what impact will it have to your bottom line?

Before you start using personalised marketing, make sure that you can follow through. The CEO of Conductrics, Matt Gershoff summarises it nicely:

“While targeting can be incredibly valuable, many in the industry haven’t fully grasped that targeting ALWAYS leads to greater organisational complexity and that greater complexity means greater costs.”

Make sure that you have the employees and the budget.

So, choose personalisation only if you can oversee the experiences properly.

Image Personalisation

The best way to cause a pattern disruption is through images. We process visual information instantaneously – in less than 13 milliseconds. This is why Images are more important than text.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that personalised images can meaningfully improve conversions.

Image personalisation comes in handy during LinkedIn outreach.

Image Source: HYPERISE

Personalization at scale with Hyperise. Hyperise offers powerful and eye-catching personalisation solutions.

You can include personalised images with prospects’ names to force them to take another look.

Adding personalised images into LinkedIn outreach will boost your effectiveness.

Email Personalisation

The power behind personalised email campaigns is clear. Subscribers receive relevant content instead of generic messaging that misses the mark.

Personalised emails nurture relationships. But, just like with any relationship, you have to keep things exciting.

Personalisation offers countless options to keep your audience delighted and engaged.

  • Personalised emails enjoy increased open and click-through rates. For example, your email is 26% more likely to be opened if it has a personalised subject line
  • According to Accenture, over 90% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that send personalised emails
  • Higher levels of engagement boost sender reputation. People are less likely to unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam. This improves your email deliverability and reputation.
  • Personalised email campaigns will increase revenue by 5% – 15%. However, this is only the average. The clothing retail JustFab saw a 103% increase in revenue!

There are many ways to personalise your email campaigns. Let’s look at the most powerful email personalisation tactics.

Email Personalisation Tactics

If you have a subscriber’s first name, or where they work, you can use that to personalise the copy.

Dropbox does a great job by using this data to send relevant content:

Image Source: Campaign Monitor

However, the text isn’t the only part of an email that you can personalise. Emails with images with tailor-made images increase click-through rates.

For example, Campaign Monitor made images personalised to the subscriber’s location:

Image Source: Campaign Monitor

Each subscriber was shown a relevant image. The email campaign increased their click-through rate by 29%.

E-Commerce

Personalisation is tailor-made for e-commerce. It does a great job of replicating a real-life shopping experience.

Think about it this way. The salespeople know your name, what you like the most, what you need, and the item you got your heart set on. 

In the real world, only premium shoppers enjoy such an exclusive experience. E-Commerce personalisation is a marketing strategy that offers specific shopping experiences to various types of visitors.

Image Source: Instapage

However, with e-commerce personalisation, all of your shoppers can have this special experience.

As a result, your customers will go to your online store for their shopping needs. A recent study by Accenture proves this point.

According to the study, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop from brands that remember them and offer relevant offers.

Several strong e-commerce personalisation strategies will increase your revenue.

Personalised Suggestions

Have visitors to your e-commerce store fill out a quick quiz or poll. Provide them also with guides to help them make better shopping choices.

You can make relevant suggestions to each customer based on their quiz results.

What you’re doing is giving each visitor a personal assistant to help them with their shopping.

Topshop uses this effective personalisation tactic.

Image Source: Sleeknote

Once users provide information about their style, size, budget, Topshop presents them with a personalised wardrobe. Shoppers can browse through a selection of clothes that match their style and budget.

They have their very own store.

Your wardrobe is frequently updated with new items.

ASOS takes this tactic to the next level by recommending items based on users’ previous browsing and shopping history.

Image Source: Sleeknote

This personalisation tactic helps users to explore fashion and develop their style. Shoppers are more likely to buy a recommended article of clothing than a generic list.

Letting your audience pick their style is a great way to personalise. Here’s how Swarovski gets users to find their style:

Image Source: Optinmonster

Shoppers pick a style and then further customise the option to see their recommendations:

Image Source: Optinmonster

This tactic can also be used for non-fashion industries. Use quizzes to learn about your audience’s favourite products or services. Based on their preferences, offer them personalised recommendations.

Recently Viewed

Visitors will often browse through a catalogue without wanting to buy anything. However, if they visited a product page, they’re likely interested in the item.

Including a “Recently Viewed” section on your website for returning visitors is a clever way of reminding them of their interest.

This way the shopping experience is streamlined and you increase the chances of a sale.

Zalando uses this tactic:

Image Source: Sleeknote

Notice the catch “pick up where you left off” call-to-action. It gently nudges potential customers to make a purchase.

This tactic can go one step further. Retailers can recommend new brands to explore based on the visitor’s browsing history.

Image Source: Sleeknote

Shoppers can find new products, which means more revenue for you.

Location-Based Personalisation

E-Commerce businesses know the locations of their customers. This helpful data can improve the visitors’ shopping experience.

You can make product pages more relevant if you customise them based on location.

For example, an online store that sells shoes can adjust their size charts and currency based on a visitor’s location.

When American shoppers visit Allbirds, shoes are priced in dollars and the size information is American:

Image Source: Sleeknote

But, UK shoppers see the British Pound and size information:

Image Source: Sleeknote

This tactic spares shoppers from making conversions if they’re located outside of your country.

Location-based personalisation is a powerful tactic if you have customers from many countries. Retailers can make relevant offers. For example, customers in America will receive offers for t-shirts in the summer season while suggesting jackets to Australians.

Topman adjusts prices for visitors who indicate that they are students:

Image Source: Big Commerce

Cart Abandonment

The never-ending torment of all e-commerce businesses: cart abandonment. The average cart abandonment rate across all industries is nearly 70%. 

The abandonment rate for mobile users is even worse – it stands at 85.6%!

Marketers have used abandoned cart emails to entice shoppers to complete their purchases. These emails can recover around 10% of lost revenue.

You can now use personalisation to further improve the effectiveness of abandoned cart emails.

The first and most obvious way is to personalise the subject line. Email is at its heart a one-to-one channel. So, preserving a certain level of intimacy is important. This is where personalisation can help.

After all, emails with personalised subject lines perform better than those without – 47.67% compared to 41.8%.

The subject lines in the abandoned cart emails should remind the receipt that they left something behind.

For example: Get your favourite t-shirts before they’re gone!

Remember to keep subject lines short and sweet.

So, instead of writing this:

[Jodie], we noticed that you were shopping on our website but you didn’t complete the checkout process!

Try this:

[Jodie], you forgot something important!

Remember to keep the most compelling parts of the subject line toward the beginning.

Website

Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach, we can change website content based on who accesses it. Therefore, a personalised website offers a unique experience using the visitor’s traits.

The idea is to provide an online equivalent of a restaurant where the waiters know your name and your favourite meal. We are going for that warm and welcoming feeling.

This is called website personalisation. One of the most important benefits of web personalisation is increased time on site. If you’re looking to reduce your bounce rate and give people a reason to stay, then web personalisation is the way to go.

The most common example is switching the language and content based on the user’s location.

It only makes sense that your website visitors want personalised calls-to-action.

Hubspot tested personalised calls-to-action. What they found was that they perform 202% better than basic ones. Basic CTAs remain the same for every visitor.

Multivariate CTAs are at least two different CTAs that are tested against each other to an evenly split audience.

Image Source: HubSpot

On the other hand, smart CTAs are designed for individuals. They change depending on a user’s:

  • Physical location
  • Browser language
  • Previous interactions with the business
  • Interests

These are only some of the ways that CTAs can be tailored to a visitor.

Customise Web Services

There is another way websites can provide a personalised experience. This tactic is popular with health-based websites but can be applied to other niches.

Everyday Health has a customisable meal planner tool that helps visitors achieve their weight goals. Once visitors include the following information:

  • Gender
  • Current weight
  • Target weight
  • Height
  • Activity level
  • Meal Plan: Weight loss or diabetes-friendly
  • Calorie intake

They are taken to a dashboard where they have their meals planned out:

Image Source: The Healthy

This customisable tool creates a healthy eating plan that makes the person feel satisfied and energised.

Social Media Personalisation

One of my favourite uses of social media personalisation comes from Cadbury. The brand wanted to increase awareness in Australia. So, they used Facebook data to make personalised videos.

Don’t worry, they only targeted people who gave their consent and signed up.

Cadbury created a Flavour Match App, which assigned a flavour to each person using their Facebook data.

Using Personalised Video as a Service (PVaaS) tool, Cadbury built a personalised video for each participant.

Each participant received a powerful and emotional personalised video with their Facebook pictures:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrxOOK-U4Uw&feature=emb_title
Video Source: Youtube

The engagement went through the roof – a 65% click-through rate! Also, 33% of viewers converted by filling a promotional form.

Personalised social media campaigns offer many benefits:

  • Improved conversion rates
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Better lead generation results and Facebook ad costs

As the Cadbury ad shows, personalisation can put the customer in the centre of attention. They are the protagonist of a story.

Now, that’s powerful marketing!

Video marketing is remarkably effective.

But personalised video marketing will be the standard very soon.

Use personalised videos to promote your services or products. Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit made a creative personalised video to get people to sign up to the event.

They included the person’s name on a registration list next to Will Smith’s name:

Image Source: Social Media Examiner

A pretty cool way to get people to sign up!

Use personalised videos to thank your audience.

Personalise Social Media Content for Local Audience

Target followers from different countries, states, or cities with relevant content. To do this properly, you need to:

  • Make content in multiple languages
  • Create social media pages for each country (if applicable)
  • Discuss local issues in your content, including trends, interests, weather, events. This will resonate with your audience. For example, an event organiser might recommend the best restaurants to visit in the host city.

Here are some of the best social media personalisation tactics.

Personalised Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads are shown to users who have taken a specific action, like visiting a landing page. They work well on social media.

They are also very effective at increasing sales.

I like how SEMrush uses retargeting ads. Once you sign up to their free account, users will see this ad:

Image Source: Social Media Examiner

It promotes a relevant offer to users who show an interest in their service by signing up.

To learn how to run remarketing ads read this comprehensive guide.

Personalised Messaging

Consumers expect to have real conversations with brands. This is where chatbots enter the picture. Many chatbots are limited in their functionality – personalisation stops at mentioning the first name of the customer.

Luckily, there are ways to make chatbots more personal. You can program chatbots to ask questions and then set up future communications based on the responses.

Fitness Verve comes up with personalised post-injury workout plans.

Image Source: Zoho Social

A conversation that feels real is much more memorable than a clunky exchange.

One-on-One Interaction

If you have the resources, you can provide an authentic personalised interaction. Consumers want to have meaningful conversations with brands. They want to be recognised as distinct individuals rather than faceless consumers.

Social listening tools will help streamline your one-on-one interactions with consumers. They are a must-have for providing personalised social media experiences. Most tools come packed with many filtering options and comprehensive analytics.

Use social listening tools to respond instantly to people’s queries and comments. You can also include personal information about people, which will enhance your interactions.

For example, Mention is a free tool you can use to track your brand mentions all over the world.

Personalised Social Media Quizzes

Popularised by the likes of Buzzfeed, quizzes are a fun way to collect relevant information.

Quizzes are also engaging and shareable.

According to Buzzsumo, a quiz gets shared up to 1,900 times on average.

You can repurpose your existing content to create quizzes. After all, you build quizzes using the knowledge you already have.

For example, if you have a checklist that you use as a lead magnet, then you can turn it into a quiz.

You can turn your checklist “10 Ways to Optimise your LinkedIn Marketing” into “How Good is Your LinkedIn Marketing?”

The information you gather from quizzes will help you provide highly relevant personalised experiences.

The energy producer, Eneco used a single quiz to collect 1000 leads in 6 weeks. They company retargeted website visitors with their quiz.

Image Source: Social Pilot

They used Facebook Ads to promote their “Calculaadtor” quiz that shows users how much it’d cost to buy a home charger for their electric car. Participants received a ton of useful content, while Eneco received an insight into their audience.

As a result, they were able to send relevant emails and information to their leads using the results they got from the quiz.

Wrapping Up

The goal of personalisation is to provide a unique and relevant experience for each user. You need to keep track of your users’ actions. E-commerce businesses in particular need to be mindful of this.

For example, if I bought an item on a website, then don’t recommend it to me when I return. Instead, offer something related to the item I’ve already purchased.

Finally, once you’ve implemented personalisation, keep an eye on whether it’s improving your visitors’ experience.