Every year, it seems that marketers are talking about this year as the “year of personalization.”
But, like anything digital, the meaning and usage of personalization are perpetually changing.
Personalization used to be as simple as inserting the prospective buyer’s name into a line of text. Maybe you’ve noticed, but this strategy usually doesn’t work.
At this point, most brands use personalization placeholders in their email. Back before the internet made us skeptical, users would open emails with subject lines they thought they were personally addressed to them.
Brands continue to clutter user inboxes with personalization, and users are getting worn out. Using someone’s first name used to make them more likely to connect with it, but not when every single email in their inbox uses this tactic.
That’s why in 2019, many brands are stepping away from that style of personalization (HIPB2B included). What alternative forms can personalization take?
As personalization gets more complex, marketers will need to learn how to connect every touchpoint back to the lead’s email address.
This means if someone engages with you on Twitter, you can unify that data with the same person who opened your last marketing email.
To get started with this, first, you must use a tool like cookies to store data about every visitor to your website, even before you have a name or email address for them. How?
Use website analytics to find out information about your visitors. Consider which channel referred each visitor (organic search, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Backfill even more information, like what device they are using, their location, and any other identifiers.
From there, see what this anonymous visitor liked. See what pages they visited, how long they were there, etc. Start building this information so once they take an identifying action, you will immediately be able to link it to the rest of their user profile.
In 2019, users expect some degree of personalization even if they never provide their information. Keep that in mind as you collect data on those who have not yet revealed their identities to you.
Once they respond to an identifying CTA, like filling out a form, connect their profile to past behavior so you can give them a hyper-personalized experience. (But beware of too much personalization too soon, which can come off creepy.)
As mentioned above, quality personalization now starts in the database. Instead of sending out the classic “email blast,” learn to segment your audiences based on the data you already have about them.
If you’ve built your database right, you should have a massive amount of data from which to segment and distribute content.
Look at your offering and your customers before you start determining your audience segments. Look at the factors that all your customers have in common. Maybe most of your leads are from a specific city or serve a specific industry. Block off anyone in your audience who fits this profile and serve them relevant content.
If you find a lot of people in your database aren’t converting and don’t share relevant segmentation patterns with most of your customers, maybe it’s time to reexamine your content strategy. You might be inadvertently targeting the wrong audience. That’s a waste of time and resources.
Machine learning sounds intimidating, but it isn’t that bad. And it’s certainly the future of personalization.
To get started, you select a series of base algorithms, which are simple ones based on obvious, crowd-oriented factors. Some examples of this are trending, recently posted, etc.
From there, you add a series of filters, to determine who gets what. This can be based on factors like company size, location, etc.
From there, machine learning takes over. Depending on the type of software you are using, machine learning can track mouse movements, content preferences, and more as it learns what your audience likes vs. what they don’t.
Machine learning is going to be a hot trend in personalization in the coming decade. You should get on board now.
Another way to personalize content is to allow your audience to personalize their own experience. This is done through interactive content.
Interactive content is the choose-your-own-adventure of the marketing world. And as more and more tools emerge for marketers to embed interactive content both on their websites and across distribution channels, it will be common for most marketing to have an interactive element.
As marketing technology advances, personalization will get smarter and smarter. Make sure your business doesn’t get left behind in this year by keeping up with the latest trends in personalization.