7 Tips for High-Power Personalization (Without Sounding Like a Stalker)

personalizationMarketing personalization is very, very important if you want your campaigns to succeed in 2017 and beyond. It shows how well you know your customers, enhances their experiences, and matches people to relevant content. A recent survey reveals that:

  • Virtually all (96%) marketers agree that personalization advances customer relationships. Eighty-eight percent say they’ve realized a measurable lift in business results from their personalization campaigns.
  • Currently one in three marketers (33%) relies on machine-learning personalization; that is, using algorithms and predictive analytics to dynamically present recommendations and experiences at the individual “one-to-one” level.
  • Marketers are using personalization in email campaigns (72%), as well as on their company’s website (57%), mobile site (28%), web app (20%) and mobile app (18%).

“Thanks to CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems and behavioral analytics solutions, companies can track customers’ preferences, buying patterns and more,” Forbes tells us. “As a result, they can create personalized experiences that make customers feel valued and appreciated. The concept of personalization falls into multiple categories: customer service, sales and marketing. All three of those are important aspects of the overall customer experience.”

Avoiding the “ick-factor”

Before we discuss what you should do, we want to make sure you know what NOT to do regarding personalization.

There’s a fine line between effective, high-power personalization that taps into customer data versus stalking. If you don’t want to come across as creepy (what I refer to as the “ick-factor”), that’s a line that you definitely don’t want to cross.

Clearly you need to strike a balance between, “We think you might find this helpful” and “We’re watching you.” Follow Hubspot’s recommendation, “…to be sure to do some careful research, planning, and testing before you jump into any large-scale customization initiatives.”

We’re providing the following 7 tips to help you personalize effectively and avoid the ick-factor.

Put a privacy policy in place

Depending on your business, your clients likely share quite a bit of information with you—personal, business, habits, preferences, buying behavior, finances, etc. Don’t abuse the trust they place in you, or you could be accused of creepy – or illegal – activities.

The best way to avoid any unpleasantness? A privacy policy. Talk to your attorney about putting one place.

Search and research to reveal the persona

The objective of your research should be to find out about your target customers, understand what interests them both professionally and personally. Get to know what they like and dislike…who they are. If you’re involved in B2B, learn all about their businesses, as well.

High-power personalization is all about knowing them inside out. Sometimes even bringing a smile to their face with a relevant, inside piece of information. Empathize. Reassure them. Help them accomplish their goals. But, most importantly, tell them what you want them to do…and be specific.

Make the experience highly targeted

Personalization goes way beyond just using the target’s name. With the high rate of cybercrime, people have become distrustful of name-only personalization. Instead, send a range of targeted messages, ranging from welcome and abandoned cart emails to birthday campaigns and special offers. Being able to do all of that kind of segmentation and automated, targeted campaigns is really important to successful email strategy. It cements a long-lasting relationship with your customers.

Be conservative…don’t get too friendly too fast

Many personalization efforts aren’t going to be perfect. Even with a great algorithm, they are, at best, very educated guesses as to what’s going to be applicable to your customers. For that reason, it might be best to take a conservative approach to your recommendations, especially in the earliest stages of any personalization efforts you make.

Don’t get too friendly too fast. Imagine what would happen if you sent nothing but highly personalized emails immediately after someone makes their first purchase. What if that person were buying a gift for someone or making the purchase on behalf of, say, her boss? A highly personal email campaign would be a huge turnoff—and it could send your new client bolting in the other direction.

Definitely play it cool with the personalization until you better understand client preferences, behavior, interests, etc. One way you can do this is by asking the right questions. Send out an automated email to new clients (triggered by their first purchase) asking about preferences, interests, etc.

Mix up your marketing

Mixing up your marketing is good advice across the board, but when it comes to email marketing, it’s super important. Intersperse personalized emails with those that are more generic. You’ll avoid the dreaded ick-factor behavior, and you’ll continue to be top-of-mind.

Be careful when it comes to context

Context can take several forms, but let’s consider location first. You wouldn’t send a snow day special email to your clients in, say, Miami or Los Angeles or Phoenix. Likewise, you wouldn’t invite your East Coast clients to a West Coast event happening in a few days.

Timing is important, too. If you hold a monthly workshop on the same topic, you’ll want to remove past attendees from that email list. However, if you decide to offer a new workshop on a different topic, you’ll definitely want to email all past workshop attendees.

Avoid overwhelming them

Everyone’s email inboxes are already overwhelmed, so be careful about email frequency. Every day is definitely a no-no, but every few days or once a week is likely okay. Your open and click-through rates will tell you.

Be it a marketing message or an in-person experience, personalization is a relationship builder that makes customers feel welcomed, remembered and valued as individuals. But only if you’re careful and considerate.

Want to cash in on high-power personalization in your marketing, with none of the ick-factor? Just give us a shout! Solamar has the pros who know how to delve into the data and make personalization work to your best advantage.

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