The Dos and Don'ts of Personalised Marketing

Personalisation is the new name of the game. From concert ticket sites to public transit apps, individualised ads are ubiquitous. More than a nice touch, they’re an essential component of a successful marketing strategy. Those that incorporate individual experiences are primed to reap the rewards, but running personalised content and doing so advantageously are two different things.

Personalised marketing is difficult to get right. We need both ideas and messaging that strike the fine balance between acknowledgement and intrusion. There’s also need to respect user privacy. As consumers grow increasingly aware of their data usage and governments enact stricter measures, marketers continue to face this uphill battle. We must simultaneously navigate new measures while continuing to deliver customised experiences that consumers have come to expect.

We’re exploring personalised marketing; it’s value, the do’s and don’ts, and most importantly, the steps you can take to ensure your ads don’t get blocked by an increasingly savvy audience.

The Value of Personalised Marketing

Experience has shown there’s real value shown in personalised communications. Research from US global consulting firm McKinsey & Company suggests that companies who adopt personalisation at scale drive up to 40% more revenue. They aren’t the only ones seeing the benefits. The team over at Bizibl have also shared the impact of personalised communications in marketing.

Personalised Marketing Impacts
Value of Personalisation from Bizibl

With such an uplift in results, businesses cannot afford to ignore the power of personalisation. However, not all approaches are the same. Each business needs to grapple with what personalisation means and how to deploy it wisely. With that in mind, let’s walk through the dos and don’ts of individualised marketing.

The Do’s of Personalisation

Starting with the basics, here are some of the must haves for a successful individualised marketing.

  1. Get your data house in order – To properly personalise your marketing, you first need to know something about your customer base.

    Personalisation starts with data collection. Is your site built to track users’ journeys through pages? Are you taking note of which products or courses they have viewed through digital interactions? Are you collecting their basic contact information and user preferences at the initial points of contact. All of this information should be stored and easily customisable to help build customer segments.

    Note that you should aim to keep one data (and privacy compliant) file per customer. This is helpful for mapping the user journey to inform future segments. It’s also especially useful for customer service teams looking to pick up where the last interaction left off.

  2. Ask customers for their feedback. Equally tied to data collection is solicited feedback. You can’t possibly know everything about someone’s choices, but you can ask in moments that are appropriate. Moments such as subscribing to a newsletter, or when they’ve reached out for more information. Ask what brought them here and what else they’d like to know? Apply these learnings to inform your messaging and the timing of communications.

  3. Speak to the phase of a user’s journey. This is a big one and as important when selling a laptop as it is a university degree. Incorporate messaging that is tailored to their phase of the funnel, to encourage movement through it.

    This is tougher to do in early exploration, forcing broader messaging, but there are some strategies you can employ. For prospecting efforts, you can build personaes off your existing customers, applying insights on why previous customers came to you in the first place. For newer customers, it can be as simple as welcoming them to your site for the first time. You can also address commonly asked questions or simply tell them high level information about your brand.

    We gain more capabilities as users move through to a consideration phase. For those who have abandoned items to their cart, send them a simple reminder. Encourage one time customers to engage more with items similar to those they’ve already purchased.

    Moving past the original purchase, there’s real potential to build a long lasting relationship. Think about how you’re building confidence in their decision. Are you rewarding their repeated purchases or interactions? Have you won loyalty by resolving past issues? How are you converting users into future advocates of your brand?

    Each of these phases is a new opportunity to personalise your marketing, by building unique customer segments. Tailor both your messaging and your targeting based off these groupings to create that personal experience

  4. Make your interactions special. Personalisation isn’t just about slapping the customer’s name in an email headline and calling it a day. It’s about providing a seemingly unique experience. Think about how you are rewarding your repeat customers, or thanking someone for choosing to learn more. These rewards can come in the form of discounts, coupons, or additional information. In other words, make their day in a unique way..

The Don’ts of Personalisation

While personalised marketing can be a boon, getting it wrong can be damaging. The mistakes might be easier to make than you think. Let’s start with a simple example.

Last Easter I received an email from my local gym. It read “Easter activities for the Crawford family;” A simple title which seems innocent enough. The problem however, is that I don’t have children, nor am I married. A genuine message of inclusion from this service provider had the opposite effect, leaving me feeling ostracised. This, all because they decided to include my name within the title. It’s something I’ve thought about in each subsequent email from them. The worst part? This could have been completely avoided based off the information that this gym already knows about me.

This example highlights some of the simple no-no’s of personalisation:

  1. Don’t speak to demographic information, speak to consumer’s habits. Based off my age and residential location, it’s easy make assumptions about my familial status. However, this company already knows that my account is not linked to another. Worse yet, after repeated scans of my membership card, they should already know that I attend the location alone. They shouldn’t have to infer details about my personal life because they already have data on how I habitually visit their location.  

    As a general practice, do not rely on information such as someone’s ethnicity, age, gender, religion or other factors. Generalisation is not personalisation. Instead let their interests and behaviours inform your personalisation techniques.  

  2. Don’t make assumptions based off limited interactions. It’s a temptation to leverage a couple interactions to create a profile. You work with what you have right? In layman’s terms, this approach can be classified as grasping at straws.

    In context of this facility, I could rent a room for a child’s birthday party. This might lead one to infer that it’s for a child of my own. Thing is, it’s impossible to know whether it’s for my child, a family member’s, or a friend’s without actively asking.

    Don’t let limited interactions become red herrings. It’s not personal, it’s presumptive and will hurt your overall efforts.  

  3. Don’t spam with personal information. Nobody wants to feel harassed with repeated messages. Reminders are friendly, but pestering is a desperate act.

    Think about the basics of human interaction. A greeting at the front door is nice, but constantly hearing your name around the store is highly off-putting. Don’t replicate the scenario with your email program.

  4. Don’t get the details wrong. This one is pretty basic, but make sure the data you have is timely and correct. Ever receive a message with the wrong name? The mistake is clocked immediately. Was this for someone else or did they get it wrong? Either way the email gets deleted.  Similarly, information that’s out of date is just wasted impressions. What value is a coupon for a store you no longer live near?

    The remedy is to keep your data bases correct. If ever in doubt, it’s better to ask for the correct information then make assumptions off the past.

The Need for Trust

What so many of these situations point to is the important of trust. As you may have guessed, it’s integral to personalised marketing.

Ever received a personalised message from a company you’ve never heard of? It raises a lot of red flags. How did they get your information in the first place? Who betrayed your trust to share your details? If you can’t remember the source, you aren’t going to respond positively. Recent ad controls have also made it far too easy to block ads from unknown sources. Despite inherent scepticism over personalisation customers have shown to be more than willing to receive personalised communications from a familiar brand. A survey from Hubspot found that 78% of customers are more likely to share their data with a company they trust. Given the importance of data selection to even begin to personalise your marketing, you must build methods to establish trust into your marketing strategies.

Embedding a Personal Touch

To personalise or not to personalise? It’s no longer a question, but a must have for any marketing strategy. Whether or not it’s successful, well that’s up to you. Follow the principles we’ve outlined and you’re already well on your way to marketing with a nice personalised touch.