Personalised marketing is now such a part of our everyday lives that it needs to be done particularly well to have the kind of impact it once did. Long gone are the days when a letter or email with our name at the top might make us think we were being spoken to as individuals rather than just another line on a bought mailing list. Customers’ data is an asset that all marketers need to use, while being careful to tread the line between ‘personalised’ and ‘creepy’.
Despite a general familiarity with personalised marketing, any associated cynicism can still be circumvented if the customisation is done in a way that taps into what customers like and want. The data that marketers can get should be enough to be able to understand their customers and to segment them. There are a lot of tools out there that do this, so there’s no excuse for sending out the same e-shot to your whole database or the same advert to everyone on Facebook.
“The emergence of the internet and social media means customers are more equipped to discover, compare and evaluate brands at speed,” Ian Stockley, MD of Indicia told MyCustomer.com. “As a result, marketing needs to become more customer-centric to deliver ROI and personalisation is essential to this approach. With so many brands jostling to get their message heard, personalisation helps marketers achieve cut-through with more relevant and timely content that generates a meaningful brand interaction. Consumers choose the brands they want to engage with on their terms and personalisation can help secure this interaction. Not only does personalisation benefit the brand, but it also benefits the consumer too, by meeting their wants and needs.”
One company using personalised marketing to fuel its expansion is luxury holiday firm Secret Escapes. CMO Cian Weeresinghe explains: “We want to offer personal recommendations in real time. We have to think about how and where we present the recommendations to users – whether that’s on Facebook, the website, via email or as a Google advert next time they search.” Anyone who signs up on the site gets personalised email recommendations based on their activity (usually done on a Monday morning when the bitter jolt of being back at work makes people more open to the idea of a nice holiday), helped by a database that knows its stuff about similarities between various holiday destinations and wish lists built by the users themselves.
One excellent example of personalised marketing was at the 2014 Super Bowl, where Coca Cola segmented its controversial American National Anthem half-time video on Facebook, ensuring that people across the country saw the aspect of it that was most relevant to them. That approach has been followed by other brands in the Super Bowls that have followed, with Facebook proudly boasting of ever-more intricate targeting technologies to deliver ever-more personalised adverts to users (for ever-more money from advertisers of course).
That kind of mass personalisation is often just aimed at brand awareness or grabbing the limelight without a specific purchase element to it, in the same way that Coca-Cola wouldn’t have expected everyone who saw its Super Bowl advert to rush out from wherever they were to go and buy one. Equally, Secret Escapes’ high value holidays are rarely impulse buys for all but the richest of its users, but it knows that a well-targeted email or advert can drive users through the funnel to a sale.
One of the skills of getting it right is to keep on top of the latest trends and technologies, and there’s plenty of scope for personalisation being taken to the next level in years to come. Virtual reality and augmented reality are becoming more widely used in marketing, and AR has reached a whole new level of awareness in a matter of weeks thanks to the success of Pokemon Go. With millions around the world using AR to catch ‘em all, it won’t be a stretch for these same people to try out some of the personalised experiences we wrote about recently.
However, not everyone is convinced by the merits of personalised marketing. A survey carried out in April by Amaze One saw only a quarter of the 2,647 respondents saying that they would be happy to receive tailored offers based on past purchases, with age playing a much bigger factor in it than you might expect. While 57% of 18-to-34-year-olds were happy to receive such offers, only 5% of over 35s felt the same way, which suggests that there is still some unease about the way personalised data is collected and utilised. 72% said they were concerned about how it was collected and 69% said they felt they didn’t have control over their data.
Of course, Amazon is the king of personalised marketing, having used our purchases to market to us since way back in 2004. If you’ve ever bought something from Amazon, you’ll know how its site, app, emails and adverts are all affected by what you’ve bought, searched for or looked at, to the extent that browsing one item can see it follow you around the whole internet thanks to remarketing adverts.This can help you make up your mind to buy it, or it can ruin a spouse’s birthday surprise or cause endless embarrassment, depending on the nature of the products viewed!
We live in a world where we share more and more of ourselves on the internet, whether it’s deliberately via social media or less intentionally through the websites that we sign up to or buy products and services from. Whether it’s Amazon telling us about films we might want to buy because of that movie we watched last night or Tesco offering us Clubcard rewards on the products we buy every week, retailers want to make it is as tempting and easy as possible to spend money with them. With clever marketing and the careful avoidance of creepiness, it’s a tactic that offers great rewards, potentially for both consumers and retailer.
Do you find personalised marketing useful or worrying? Have you ever had any particularly good or bad experiences with companies who know too much or too little about you? Let us know in the comments section or via social media, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive more articles straight to your inbox.