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The Stages of Marketing Personalization

GetResponse Pro

In today’s world, marketers are tasked with creating personalized experiences for customers and delivering those experiences in real-time. The idea is simple but the mechanics of execution are complex. It’s important to train your team on communication etiquette when interacting with a customer directly. It’s even more important to identify, track, and interact with an individual customer, and reconsider your messaging and campaigns to meet that customer’s needs.

It requires quality data, defined and refined processes, sophisticated tools, organizational alignment, and a lot of hard work. We often see teams invest in expensive technology with the hopes that it will magically produce the experiences they’re looking for, only to find out that technology alone is not enough. There is a progression that needs to take place in order to achieve the ideal state of real-time 1:1 marketing—a “journey,” shall we say, that takes us through the various stages of marketing maturity. 

The first stop on your journey in being able to execute 1:1 marketing campaigns to the masses, is evaluating what your current personalization maturity level is. Once you know where you stand today, you can begin to work your way up into more advanced and sophisticated phases. To help you get started, we’ve put together stages. Read through them and see where you land today, and identify the areas you can improve in order to achieve 1:1 marketing in an automated fashion in real-time.

Maturity Stages

Generic Marketing – 0

Also known as the “Batch and Blast” stage, the Generic Marketing stage is characterized by mass marketing communications and non-segmented outreach. It’s a one-size fits all approach, which unfortunately often falls flat. Due to the lack of targeting, the message is general and fails to resonate with the audience. At best, engagement rates will be low. At the worst, spam complaints and bad reviews will taint your brand. 

If you find yourself in this category, the first step is to segment your audience and adjust your messaging accordingly. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself: What are the primary, big bucket groups within your audiences? Is there a reason you cannot segment according to these groupings? If so, what’s the reason? Are you lacking data, resources, technology? Answers to these questions will get you started and on your way to the next stage in maturity—Demographic Segmentation. 

Demographic Segmentation – 1

In this stage, we see marketing begin to customize outreach based on demographic data points they’ve collected for their audience. The market is divided into smaller categories based on demographic factors, such as location, industry, or job role. Instead of reaching an entire database, marketers focus messaging to a defined group and create messaging tailored to that unique audience as a whole. 

If you already have your segmentations defined, and are personalizing your marketing campaigns based on demographics, we encourage you to ask yourself if you can further segment your audience by behaviour. For example, once a contact has been included in a marketing campaign, is their “journey” already written and predetermined? Does it look the same as everyone else? The majority of a buyer’s journey is now done independently, which means marketers need to listen for these activities and pivot campaigns based on the behaviors of each individual. Start by defining key activities your audience takes throughout the buyer’s journey and set up processes to listen for and capture these behaviours. This will get you on the right track to the next stage—Behavioral Marketing.

Behavioural – 2

Behavioural marketing is when marketing targets audiences based on their behavior, interests, or intentions in addition to demographics. By further segmenting audiences based on specific behaviors, we begin to create more relevant content and offers rather than sending a general message to all audiences. Behavioral marketing is more complex and requires that we have the technology and processes in place to listen for, capture, process and store different types of online and offline activities in order to segment and target audiences. To take it a step further, marketers often engage with third parties such a 6Sense or Bombora which have built powerful algorithms that take these behaviours, evaluate them, and assign interest or intention data points which can be used for further segmentation.  Another opportunity is to utilize a tool such as Oracle Infinity, which not only collects behavioral data, but also turns it into predictive intelligence that you can use in real-time to enhance engagement.

If you have a marketing automation platform in place, and have connected it to your other major technologies such as your website, CRM, webinar platform, etc., then you are hopefully already doing some form of behavioral marketing. As we move to the next stage, we need to have our technology, processes, and strategy align so we can begin to personalize the experiences to the individual, and do so at scale. To start this transition, I recommend to outline the ideal journey for one individual. Make note of all the elements that are unique and personal to that individual. Now go through and see where your gaps in data and technology are stopping you from executing the campaign, and automating the personalization—and focus on closing those gaps. 

1:1 Marketing – 3

In this stage of personalization, each experience is unique—no journey is the same. With accurate demographic and behavioral customer data, you can begin to personalize your marketing to each individual. As mentioned earlier, the idea is simple, but it’s impossible to manually create and deliver a personalized experience to every single contact—there’s just not enough time and resources.  But with the right technology and processes in place, we can approximate the 1:1 experience at scale. Starbucks does this very well. They’ve created a mobile app experience that is personalized to each customer with your favorite items and most recent purchases clearly displayed. This mkes repeat orders easy.  It also offers rewards and challenges that are personalized to each customer and based on the user’s past behaviours.  

If you’ve already started to run 1:1 marketing campaigns, take a moment to give yourself a high five—this is no easy accomplishment! Then pause and reflect to see how you can continually improve them. Can you further personalize? Can you collect key data points earlier in the journey? How quickly do your systems all speak to each other, and can you cut down any lag time to approach real-time segmentation and messaging?

Real Time – 4

The final stage of Real-Time marketing is taking everything we have learned in the previous stages, and applying it to real-time segmented groups based on their digital behavior, funnel stage, or engagement with content. It’s about creating relevant messaging by listening to and anticipating customer needs. Each person has a unique way of discovering their needs, evaluating and making purchasing decisions. In the 1:1 marketing phase we learn to listen to these differences and adjust our response. However, each person’s journey is also dynamic, and always changing—not to mention influenced by outside forces. For example, when the power went out and delayed the game during the 2013 Super Bowl, marketers had been anticipating all eyes would be on the screen, but as living room spectators waited for the game to resume, many turned to social media to pass time. Oreo quickly pivoted and tweeted their now famous ad “you can still dunk in the dark” capturing an audience’s attention with relevant and real-time messaging. This shows that we not only need to anticipate customer needs, but we also need to learn how to pivot our marketing real-time in response to a shift. Some of this can be automated by setting up methods to listen to digital behavior, but sometimes the unexpected occurs and need to learn to be flexible and know when to pivot.

If you’re looking for help advancing your personalization, Relationship One is always here to help.

The Stages of Marketing Personalization

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