When you’re skimming your inbox while sitting at your computer – or, more likely, while on the go on your smartphone – what emails do you quickly delete, and which ones do you take the time to review or set aside for later reading? If you’re like me, the emails that are personalized based on your interests and actions are the ones that typically grab your attention. They're more relevant, engaging and actionable.
As a marketer, you can bet your customers and prospects look at the content you’re sending the same way you do. They’re on the go, rushed for time and inundated with promotional emails – and increasingly, mobile push notifications and SMS messages. The goal, then, is to mix more individualized, behavior-driven content into your messaging mix.
Accomplishing personalized messaging is perceived as much harder to do than sending one-size-fits-all broadcast emails. But with a game plan and steady progress, you can transform your marketing program and your results from marginal to fantastic using personalization techniques.
Admittedly, your marketing plate is already probably more than full, but if your goal is to obtain higher levels of engagement and collect more actionable data, you’ll want to make personalization a priority. Use these four tips to help you initiate more personalized digital marketing campaigns.
1) Reach out to customers about their preferences.
Learning more about your contacts can be as simple as sending a one-question email with “yes” and “no” buttons, or sending an SMS asking for a one-word reply. These short queries are simple and easy for contacts to interact with, and the answers can then be stored in your digital database and used to help drive a little more personalization in your next communications.
Of course, you can add much more information into your digital database by conducting a more detailed survey — or better yet, using progressive profiling techniques to gradually ask one or two questions in exchange for content or another offer. Make sure all this data is going into your digital database and that you’re using it to tailor your messages. On that note, if you don't have immediate plans to use a piece of data you’re gathering, consider removing the related question.
2) Tap the data goldmine inside other departmental systems.
CRM, order management, shopping cart, call center and ERP systems are all excellent candidates for integrations. In these corporate systems, there is a goldmine of information you can use to personalize messages.
Meet with other departments and understand what systems they have, and what data they are creating and maintaining. Figure out how you would use this data to personalize your messaging. Get your digital marketing platform's API guide and begin understanding how you can link data and feed data into your marketing platform, and then pull in your IT teammates to make it happen. Make sure they understand the importance of having this data connected to your marketing systems, or it will continue to be a back burner project for all.
3) Leverage key information from within your existing marketing systems.
Behavioral data is among the most powerful data you can use to personalize communications. Why? It's fresh, immediately actionable, and highly relevant to each recipient
First, you’ll want to add Web tracking to your website so you can capture the behaviors of known visitors – and link actions to anonymous users who identify themselves at a later time. Explain the importance of this step to your website owners, and make sure they know that you have both synchronous and asynchronous tag management options.
Next, start building out automated and triggered communications based on browse abandons of pages and sites, PDFs viewed, videos watched, emails opened and clicked, SMS messages opened, and more.
4) Bring in data from other systems.
During their customer journey, it’s likely your customers and prospects are interacting with various systems that aren’t owned by your company. Incorporating this important outside information will allow you to meet them on their turf.
Examples include webinars, event registration and attendance, geo-location activity, social participation, app downloads or actions, and more. At IBM, we call these "Universal Behaviors." The beauty of a universal behavior framework is that you can capture real-time behavior happening in other systems and link that data to triggered automated messages that your digital marketing platform deploys. Perhaps the best part is that the communication — email, mobile push notification or SMS — can happen not days or weeks later, but immediately. This is personalization at its best.
Employing these approaches singularly or in combination will help ensure you remain fresh and relevant in what you’re communicating and drive improved metrics and ROI. After all, odds are good the next time your contacts are skimming your email, they’ll also be waiting in line at the store, hurrying to their next meeting or half-watching the TV. By upping your personalization levels, you’ll increase the odds of your emails being among the select few they choose to engage with.
1) White Paper: “Customer Journey Maps and Buyer Personas: The Modern Tool Kit for Marketers”
2) Blog: “3 Multichannel Marketing Tips for Enhancing the Customer Experience”
3) Marketing Automation Ebook: “Best Practices for Marketing Excellence and Organizational Efficiency”