How to Make Personalized Marketing Work for Your Company

Today's consumers filter out the generic messages as spam; personalized messages are the only ones with a hope of resonating.

We're at a point when consumers are inundated with brand messages at almost every moment. Marketers are challenged with staying relevant amid that noise, and also with tracking consumers' consumption habits and adjusting their strategies to best reach prospects. This isn't an easy feat considering the number of channels through which to target consumers and the growing number of devices on which to reach them. Nielsen reports the average American owns four digital devices and spends 60 hours per week consuming content across those devices. By factoring the number of brand messages a consumer receives during these average 60 hours,one can see why today's consumers filter out the generic messages as spam. The personalized messages are the only ones with a hope of resonating.

Use data to establish the one-to-one marketing baseline.

Businesses of all sizes have access to mounds of Big Data, and the best way to use this data is to 'make it small.' This allows businesses to gain insight from manageable pieces of data. Companies can sift through the data available to them to identify trends among their customer bases. A/B testing is another way for marketers to gather data and glean understanding of how users interact with the product, or the process they take through the site to convert. Once those common threads are identified, they can analyze the data to create a profile of the ideal customer; this could consist of which traits make up a heavy user, which traits make a customer more likely to turn into a repeat buyer, and more. This ideal customer is the persona to which marketers want to speak directly and shape their personalized marketing to serve. By using statistical analysis to identify the perfect customer, then crafting marketing messages for that persona, marketers can not only attract more valuable customers, but can also build a stronger relationship with existing customers.

Who owns the keys to your brand?

Marketers are increasing their personalization efforts in order to deliver this individualized experience to consumers, but the responsibility doesn't stop with the marketing department. Many believe that marketers own the brand. While marketers own the tone of the brand and are often the voice of the company, the customer service team consists of people who touch the customers the most. Companies such as American Express, Apple, and Zappos come to mind when you think of brands with great customer service. These companies have great products, and they also have an extremely loyal customer base because of their great service. The importance of keeping customers happy can't be overstated. In fact, research shows that 82 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with an organization because of poor customer service. In order to build such loyalty and a customer-centric organization, all customer-facing departments-marketing, product support, customer service, professional services-all need to be aligned and consistent in tone, policies, and procedures.

Personalized experiences build and nurture the customer base.

Brands need to establish how they will connect to each customer individually. Small businesses don't always have the big marketing budgets of enterprises or businesses with high-end products. However, there are still many ways for smaller brands to create personalized experiences for their customers. For B2B marketers, the most effective (and free) tactic is also the most forgotten: just be human. While B2B stands for "business-to-business," these marketers need to remember that they are still targeting people at those businesses, and their communications should maintain a friendly, open tone. This should extend to every touchpoint and interaction with the customer, whether banner ad text, e-newsletters, blogs, or customer support emails. For example, marketers can set up a drip email marketing campaign that begins with a personalized "Welcome and Thanks" email after a customer registers and then follows up with a "Just checking in" email a week or two later to start the conversation. This follow-up email shouldn't push a new product or upsell on the customer, but instead highlight a product feature that the customer hasn't begun using, offer a chance for the customer to voice any questions they have about the product, or ask a question about a customer's pain point, or even why he chose the product.

Keep in mind that both marketers and customer service professionals need to be ready to respond to customers who engage in the conversation. Much like a face-to-face conversation, brands can't expect to broadcast communication and not continue the dialogue they're trying to foster. Be prepared to respond quickly, whether via email, social media, blog comments, or wherever else, and direct customers to whichever department will best serve them. Also remember that the one-to-one communication must ring true on both sides. Make sure any communication from your brand is coming from an individual, not a generic email. This goes a long way in creating a human relationship that will keep customers coming back.

Consumers realize brands are talking to thousands or millions of other people just like them, but they forget about that when companies take the time to insert personal touches in all communications. Consumers are adept at tuning out the massive noise created by brands, so the brands and marketers that go the extra step to individually address consumers are the ones that will be able to start building loyalty. In order to successfully implement one-to-one marketing, companies need a unified effort across every customer-facing department from marketing to customer support.