Want to watch our latest webinar? Click Improve the Personalization of Your Marketing Campaigns to watch now, or read our brief recap below.

Why Personalization Matters

Personalization is effective in producing results in marketing. Research has shown that personalization:

  • Reduces acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent
  • Increases market spend efficiency by 10 to 30 percent
  • Increases sales by an average of 56 percent

However, personalization is not easy. In fact, 63 percent of marketers maintain that data-driven personalization is the most difficult online tactic to execute. In addition, 50 percent of marketers state that they are not satisfied with the level of personalization that they have achieved in their marketing efforts.

 

THREE PILLARS OF A PERSONALIZATION STRATEGY

Don’t skimp on strategy! Technology is not a substitute for having a solid personalization strategy. Buying marketing tools without a strategy will leave you with a lot of unused technology. That being said, you will need the right technologies to deliver on your marketing personalization strategy. There are three critical marketing strategies that form the foundation of a good personalization strategy.

Pillar #1: Data Management Strategy

In order to personalize your marketing, you must first have good, high-quality data. Without a proper data foundation, your personalization goals will never be achieved.

  • Metrics — There are six key metrics involved in managing data well, and they are: Reach; Validation; Standardization; Enrichment; Completeness; Total Addressable Market
    For more on these metrics, check out our Marketing Data Answers On Demand Webinar.
  • Established process for ongoing improvement – Data is perpetually decaying, so it is vital to have steps in place to continually keep data clean.
  • Quality assurance — It is essential that you are able to view and measure in real-time the quality of your data. When you put your personalization tactics into place, you need to be able to do so with a certainty that the data you are founding your strategies upon is a solid foundation.

 

Pillar #2: Content Creation Strategy

If you don’t have great content lined up to support your personalized marketing pieces, your personalization strategy will never deliver the results you desire. Content is one of the most overlooked components of an effective personalization strategy. A few components you will want to include in your content creation strategy are:

  • Develop content for each segment (industry, persona, product, etc.).
    Many marketers may have the data to segment their audience by industry, but what is equally important is whether or not they have all of the industry-specific content they need in order to carry out an effective campaign. Whatever your segment you are targeting, you want to provide them with content that speaks to them and addresses their specific desires, needs and interests.
  • Scale content creation through integrations.
    Although developing custom content for each of your segments can seem daunting, there are easy and economical ways to achieve this goal. One of the ways you can personalize content for all of your segments without breaking the bank or losing your mind is via content integrations that empower you to leverage content stored throughout your organization and use it to create automated nurture campaigns.
  • Keep track of ongoing content needs.
    As you plan your campaigns, make a short list of the types of content each campaign will need. Always keep an eye out for ways you can repurpose content to cut down on development costs.

 

Pillar #3: Campaign Delivery Strategy

An effective campaign strategy ties together your data and content to deliver personalization at scale. Although the type of campaigns that produce results vary from one organization to the next, and are heavily influenced by customer preferences, there are a few things we recommend for all marketers:

  • Think agile and iterate. Instead of taking months to plan a campaign, give yourself permission to learn by experiment and try out a variety of campaigns on small subsections of your targeted segment. You will learn at a greater speed (and lower cost) what has the potential to work and have the impact you desire.
  • Start with the end in mind. Ask yourself: what is the ideal level of personalization for our marketing? If you are already selling to a small niche market, your level of personalization may not need to be as great as a company that is selling to a broad market. When you keep the end-goal in mind, you avoid distractions and outline a path for your team to follow.
  • Know your technology limitations. Take a good look at the technology you already have in place and inventory what its capabilities are. When you know the level of personalization you want to achieve in your marketing efforts, and you have a good idea of what your current martech stack will allow you to do, then you will know where your limits are and what tools and apps you will want to add in order to deliver the level of personalization you are after.

 

FOUR TACTICS TO IMPROVE PERSONALIZATION

Tactic 1: Pick a dimension to personalize.

Start small and build on your successes. The case studies you read on personalization did not happen overnight. Choose something that is quick and simple to do, not an effort that takes months to execute.

Some examples of ways to start small include personalizing a single email, web element, or SMS nurture campaign. Pick one variable or piece of content, such as the header of an email or introductory paragraph and then pick a variant like industry and personalize it. By choosing just one email and one industry to address, you enable yourself to explore the types of personalization that will work for you — without making things overly complex or requiring an overwhelming amount of custom content. You give yourself a great starting point from which you can learn and add to.

A Single Email Success Story– A Sureshot customer had a practice of sending each new contact an introductory email that featured suggested articles to read at the bottom of the email. They decided to personalize the articles recommended according to customer interests. The results of this small effort included a big improvement in campaign performance, and the email became one of the highest performing emails they had ever sent.

 

Tactic 2: Assess your database.

Assessing the current state of your marketing database will tell you how much work you need to do to implement Tactic #1.

  • Focus on the data you need.
    If you want to personalize an email element according to a customer’s industry, then your database needs to have industry information available for everyone you are targeting. If you don’t have the information you need, choose an element of data you do have, such as company size or job title, and focus on making it your starting point for personalization — if it makes sense.
  • Do it manually if you have to.
    If you are set on personalizing a campaign based on a specific data point (like industry) and you don’t have that info, consider acquiring it from a third party data provider. If you have to manually export your database in order to add the data elements you need to personalize a campaign, do it.
  • Establish a process for the future.
    Whether you choose to add new dimensions to your database once a month or once a quarter, the important thing is that you have a process in place for continually adding the data elements you need to your database.

Tactic 3: Do a quick content audit.

A content audit helps you identify any gaps in content that need to be filled.

  • A content audit does not need to be exhaustive.
    Keep things simple and doable by performing a content audit only on the data element you have chosen as the focus of your personalization efforts.
  • Identify content you can reuse.
    Look for blogs and content from other departments in your organization that you can repurpose across a variety of campaigns.
  • Find ways to automate content.
    You don’t want to get stuck manually auditing content on an ongoing basis. Automate this process as much as possible so that your approach to personalized campaigns will continue to grow more scalable even as you add more and more elements to personalize.
  • Content does not need to be perfect.
    You don’t have to have every piece of content perfect – coherent yes – perfect, no. It’s easy to obsess over content, but it’s more important to get it out there.

Tactic 4: Implement it quickly.

Don’t wait for perfection in your data or content, or overanalyze your personalization choices. Keep an agile mindset and implement your strategy as quickly as possible. Don’t plan something for six months, choose something simple to implement now and get it out the door. Make a practice of regularly reviewing how things are going every couple of weeks so that you can:

  • Generate quick wins
  • Gain important feedback
  • Adjust messaging and content
  • Add more variants as you go

 

Sureshot’s Approach: Activate

Activate is a tool that connects your data, content and campaign delivery tools so that you can scale multi-channel personalized campaigns. Activate dynamically pulls relevant data for campaigns from sources across your organization, and empowers you to:

  • Use data from multiple sources to personalize campaigns
  • Trigger relevant, timely messages based on data updates
  • Connect to sources such as CRMs, MAPs, data warehouses, etc.
  • Create dynamic templates that can be used across campaigns
  • Eliminate manual content creation

Q & A

  • Are there certain types of personalization that perform better than others in marketing campaigns?
    No. What works well for you may not work well for others. Successful personalization depends as much on the type of business you are in as it does on your customer’s preferences. If the dimension or element that you personalize is one that helps you connect in a way that is authentic with your customers, then it is going to deliver good results.
  • What data element do you recommend personalizing first?
    The data that you have already that is relevant, available (you have a ton of data for it) and it is easy to get to is the data element that you should prioritize in your personalization strategy.
  • How do you overcome the problem of not having enough content?
    Look across your organization for content that exists in other places that can be repurposed. Be creative in how you repurpose content. Rather than have someone attempt to write 25 versions of an email, look at ways that you can personalize one dimension of it and then automate that process.