Let's face it. It's 2018, and with new technology, our capabilities of marketing at a personalized level continue to surpass what was possible, year after year.
If you haven't started personalizing the majority of your digital marketing efforts by now, you might as well go back to promoting your content through a horse-riding messenger boy.
If you're not convinced, here are two powerful statistics: Marketo found that 79% of consumers are only likely to take advantage of a brand’s offer when it is personalized to reflect the individual’s previous engagements with the brand. McKinsey & Company found that personalization reduces acquisition costs as much as 50%, lifts revenues by 5 - 15%, and increases the efficiency of marketing spend by 10 - 30%. Note that they are not talking about hyper-personalization here, just sophisticated personalization.
The Beginning of Personalized Marketing
Traditional personalization in marketing began in the 2000s with inserting recipients' first names in the subject line of emails, which today is still impressively effective. Eventbrite's 2017 Email Benchmarking Report data showed that including a recipient's name in the subject line could increase open rates by up to 20% compared to emails without the recipient's name in the subject line.
Since the 2000s, marketers have apparently gotten more sophisticated with their personalization efforts and have branched out to include much more than email marketing.
However, personalized email marketing continues to be the revenue driver for many businesses when campaigns are successfully tailored to niche audiences.
Easy Win Opportunity
Many businesses are still limiting themselves to using the most basic of email marketing personalization best practices, like including recipient job titles, cities they live in, and proper segmentation. But some businesses aren't even doing these basic practices.
By implementing hyper-personalized email marketing tactics, you are quickly going to become a stiff competitor because people are expecting these basic personalized email marketing practices as the bare minimum these days.
Most importantly though, your customers and recipients are going to be more engaged, delighted, and satisfied when you hyper-personalize effectively.
Defining and Breaking Down Hyper-Personalization
Since comparisons often make concepts much clearer, let's first compare personalization versus hyper-personalization.
Emarsys, which Google has currently deemed the No. 1 most relevant resource on the topic of personalized marketing defines personalized marketing as such: "Personalized marketing is the implementation of a strategy by which companies deliver individualized content to recipients through data collection, analysis, and the use of automation technology."
Hyper-personalization, on the other hand, can be defined as efficiently using a combination of data and technology to ensure the most relevant content reaches the right individual at the perfect time as their unique activity changes, while dynamically leveraging real-time data to personalize and optimize the customer experience for individual shoppers based on their unique preferences.
The critical difference here is that the marketers who have used personalization in the past have attempted to execute so-called "one-to-one marketing" through gathering consumer data and then targeting groups of people with similar characteristics by using sophisticated segmentation strategies.
These marketers continue to fall short because they treat unique individuals as if they were the same person as everyone in one group of diverse people with similar characteristics.
As you can plainly see in the infograph below, more than half of marketers as of right now have been doing a pretty lousy job at keeping up with optimizing their personalization efforts, even though they acknowledge that personalization is a top priority of theirs.
There is an evident disconnect between how well marketers think they are doing with creating personalized experiences and how well they are executing personalization marketing in reality.
Take advantage of this opportunity now before it becomes the norm for marketers to implement hyper-personalization into their marketing strategies.
How technology is changing the game for personalized marketing
Technology has been making exponential leaps in advancement the last few years – consequently, we are now able to customize our messaging to the point where every unique data point about a customer or lead changes how that message is delivered, when it's delivered, and what it looks like visually.
This means that now more than ever, we can create personalized content that resonates with consumers at the deepest level possible.
Marketing automation technology paired with sophisticated A.I. can streamline this process so that it doesn't take so many resources to tailor each message to each individual.
You know how your good friend makes you feel inside when their actions genuinely resonate with the unique person you are? Now brands can create that same feeling once someone becomes familiar and comfortable enough with their brand.
On the flip side, consumers are becoming more skeptical about who they share their data with and how each company is going to handle that data. After all the recent Facebook data scandals, people are demanding more transparency with how their data is truly used. ADWEEK gives insight into this current issue of consumer perception, hyper-relevance, and trust.
As marketers in 2018, we need to lead the way by being extremely transparent with how we use the data we have on people.
People are starting to realize the monetary value they are providing companies with the data they've been giving away for free. We’re betting that in the future consumers are going to start making companies pay for their data as if they were renting or selling their personal physical property.
It's imperative to keep in mind that we have the power to lead the way by being extremely transparent, safe, and ethical with how we handle and use others' valuable personal data. We also have the power to create more distrust among consumers by continuing to misuse their data.
Consumers are becoming more frustrated with companies failing to deliver highly relevant personalized experiences and with companies being creepy with how they are using personal data to reach them.
Despite the increased frustration and skepticism, there are hyper-personalization techniques out there that are working well when the right balance of relevance and trust is efficiently used.
What Are Hyper-Personalized Marketing Techniques That Companies Are Using Right Now?
There are some tried and tested methods for hyper-personalization out there that some companies are using with success. Here are four hyper-personalized marketing techniques:
1. Hyperlocal Marketing
Hyperlocal marketing is just what it sounds like; it is marketing to consumers who are in an exact geographic location.
Here’s an example of hyperlocal marketing: say you’re walking down the street, a couple of blocks from a new Mexican restaurant that has been getting a lot of attention and good reviews on Yelp. As you get near the restaurant's location, the Yelp app sends out a push notification to your cell phone that says: "Hey There! We found a hot new Mexican Restaurant that just opened near you!"
Another example: say you have the Target Cartwheel app installed on your phone and the moment you walk into Target you get a push notification that presents all the deals on select Target products that are trending at that time.
Read more on Local Search Ranking for Small Businesses - An Easy 1, 2, 3
2. Attribute Analysis
In a nutshell, Attribute Analysis breaks down each customer into a map that describes every attribute about that person. Wipro did a great job of simplifying this, but keep in mind that hyper-personalization may be most useful by diving even deeper than that.
For the most part, the more unique data points you can get about a customer, the better you will be able to optimize your data-driven marketing campaigns to reach the individuals and create highly-relevant messaging that speaks to them. You will want to use artificial intelligence technology to automate as much of this as possible.
To get a better picture of how in-depth this is, here is a list of some of the things marketers utilizing Attribute Analysis might be asking about individuals:
- On average, how long do they spend shopping in a store?
- Which sections of the store are they lingering for the most extended amount of time?
- How loyal are they to brands, and which brands are they loyal to?
- Do they shop mainly in-person at one store, multiple stores, or mostly online?
- What city do they live in?
- Are they influenced primarily by TV, blogs, print, or close friends and family?
- What is their occupation and where do they work?
- How important is fitness and exercise for them?
- Do they value healthy eating? If so, what does healthy eating mean to them?
Attribute Analysis has become simpler and more reliable with the advances in social listening technologies.
For instance, when someone posts on their social media that they are eco-friendly, marketers can translate that unique preference to say that this individual is going to be more interested in energy efficient products or have an unfavorable outlook on organizations that are not leading the way with social responsibility efforts. So these consumers may feel motivated to shop online to reduce their carbon footprint.
The goal here is to set a process for identifying what each of these data points means for each unique person, then crafting a perfectly personalized message for them to engage and find value in.
It's critical to ensure your messages draw a line between being highly-relevant and being creepy – take all precautions necessary.
3. Event Sequence Analysis
Event Sequence Analysis is the process of observing the sequence of events each customer goes through until they make a purchase decision or decide not to purchase.
The goal with this analysis is to understand what the key indicators are that drive these customers to make positive actions like buying or sharing a product AND what drives them to make negative actions like buying a competitor's product instead or choosing not to buy anything at all.
What is the optimal path to guide these customers to purchase a product, and what is causing them to veer off this path?
Here are some questions one might ask about an individual when conducting an Event Sequence Analysis with an e-commerce website:
- What method are they using to log in to their account: Google ID, Facebook ID, or something else?
- What search terms are they using to navigate through the e-commerce platform search engine?
- How do they prefer to sort their results (Most Relevant, A-to-Z, Lowest Price)?
- Are they adding items to their basket or their wish list?
- Have they liked the Facebook page of the product in their basket in the past or after placing it in their basket?
- Are they asking for others’ opinions on social media about one of the products in their cart?
- When and why did they ultimately decide to buy that item over similar items?
Event Sequence Analysis ends with the purchase decision, but it may be wise to take it one step further and ask:
- How are they using that item now that they have purchased it?
Note that every different event in the analysis provides opportunities for hyper-personalization. Some examples are real-time follow-up emails, having a chatbot reach out to them, pushing an immediate pop-up ad with a discount on one of their products of interest.
By combining Event Sequence Analysis and Attribute Analysis, you have a powerful concoction that can lead to highly effective hyper-personalization. The goal is to make the right offer at the perfect time so that:
- The individual's purchasing cycle is a more natural user experience and leads to faster purchase decisions
- Marketers behind the scenes can identify every upsell opportunity and find out how to increase it
- Customers continue to be engaged at every necessary step in the event sequence to keep them from dropping out of the purchasing sequence.
4. Real-Time Personalization
Real-Time Personalization is the act of making changes to a customer's experience at the moment they are interacting with a brand.
E-commerce websites do this by analyzing in real-time where visitors are clicking, how long they are spending on particular pages, what they are putting in their cart and wish lists, and a plethora of other observances.
They take this data and customize what these visitors see next on the product feed they are browsing. This is very powerful because it helps customers find what they are looking for while also boosting sales for the company.
Some websites will completely swap out CTAs (calls to action), promotional banners, and page layouts based on where a person is geo-located, where they clicked on their website first (and subsequent page interactions), and recent browsing history.
Think of this as A/B testing on steroids, where each interaction leads to a different hyper-personalized outcome. Real-Time Personalization uses what is referred to as multivariate testing, which is the act of changing subtle elements based on specific interaction points, instead of offering one of two versions.
Key takeaways For Hyper-Personalization In 2018
Keep this hyper-personalization information in mind when you're browsing the web.
Are the companies you are interacting with utilizing hyper-personalization, and if not, how could they be? Ask yourself if hyper-personalized marketing tactics could work well for the business you are currently working.
For hyper-personalization to be effective you need to have the best data available, so keep an eye out for new marketing technologies to provide real-time insights and interactions with your customers.
Hyper-personalization done wrong can damage the perception and credibility of your brand, so ensure you are respecting your customer's privacy, handling their data with care, and being smart about how you use their private information to make unique connections with them.
Keep in mind that the time is now to break new grounds with this technique before it becomes the norm in the next five or 10 years, as marketing technology gets more sophisticated.
Don't get left behind
What do you think about this emerging trend in marketing? Are there any unanswered questions you have about hyper-personalization? Leave your thoughts and questions below.