There’s no denying the fact that the personalized marketing approach is beyond hot right now. Countless market research studies by leading business pundits have told us that people want to receive relevant, customized recommendations from the brands and organizations they’re interested in. And what’s more, they’ve grown to expect it. But when personalization is sloppy, people get annoyed.
Consider the following scenario all to common to many of us: You’ve been online shopping for a new major purchase, let’s say a new oven. You want to ensure you get the best deal on the highest quality product in your price range, so you’ve hit many websites, done lots of consumer reporting research, and signed up for mailing lists and special offers hoping to score a decent coupon on your purchase. Your efforts have paid off, and you finally decide on which unit you’re buying, and even score a 15% off for new customers coupon for a brand that has a storefront near you.
You’re feeling great about your purchase and looking forward to delivery, and then you open your email and feel a big old pin pop your smart buy balloon.
Maybe you see that the same business has just sent you a 25% coupon for a special oven sale coming up that week. Or maybe they’re following you all around the internet, relentlessly pitching other kitchen appliances to you, and you think to yourself, “Hey, I just made a major purchase from your store; could you lay off for a little bit?” Sometimes it’s that they simply keep marketing ovens to you as if the purchase you just made never happened.
This is because the brand doesn’t have a data empowered platform that LEARNS and adapts the level of personalized content it sends you; to them, you’re either stuck in the silo of “consumer shopping for oven” or are just added to the “kitchen appliance” segment and will now get inundated with content pushing you toward another sale. There are few things more irritating to modern consumers than feeling as if you were just an anonymous purchase to a brand, and it’s one of the most cited reasons as to why a brand loses clientele even though they think they are using personalized messaging correctly.
While there’s no denying that personalized content provides the bricks that build a solid path to true customer loyalty, it’s vital that you use that personalization to delight rather than turn off your customers.
Here are some potential pitfalls to be aware and beware of when it comes to personalized marketing efforts.
1. Failed Email Campaigns
Have you ever received an email from a business that you can tell messed up on their attempt to personalize their message? Maybe they got your first name wrong (“Hello John” when your name is Ted) or it’s obvious that they were sending out a mass email because the content that is supposed to be just for you is in a different typeface, making it readily identifiable as a mass mail merge off a spreadsheet.
Email marketing is one of the most common areas where marketers employ personalization, and it makes sense why this is: personalized subject lines increase open rates 26%, and email marketing products make it easy to automate the process of filling in your customer’s name and other relevant details. However, the unfortunate side effect of how easy it is to personalize your recipient’s name and targeted information in an email is that it’s also easy to screw the personalization up. While it’s an understandable error, it’s also one of the quickest ways for your business to look like it doesn’t know what it’s doing when it comes to personalization, and this notion can spill over into their opinion about your products and services.
This is why conducting thorough testing of an email campaign is crucial. These personalization issues can be fixed by simply making a habit out of developing an internal test list and sending test emails to your internal team FIRST to identify any hiccups in your presentation. It’s a fast and easy way to cover your bases and goes a long way to protecting the size and sanctity of your mailing list.
2. Faulty Retargeting Efforts
Here’s an all-too-familiar scenario to mull over: on multiple occasions, you’ve visited the product page of an item you’re interested in, sadly noticed that it was out of stock, and moved on without thinking too much about it – until ads for the item started following you around for weeks or months after. Every time you have clicked on the ad in hopes that the item in question is finally available for purchase, you see that it is still out of stock.
As consumers, this situation is frustrating enough, but as a business, it’s even more disturbing. Not only does it show your personalization efforts are failing at closing the sales funnel, it also means you’re either spending money on retargeting ads that are pointless.
This is just one of several all-too-familiar issues when it comes to retargeting. Most of us have had the experience of seeing the same ad repeatedly. Something that starts as a convenient reminder can quickly become a creepy annoyance. But you can avoid overwhelming your audience by strategically using time-delayed retargeting, so they get reminders of your product, just not all the time.
The fix for this CX issue is simple IF you have a dynamic CRM in place like Group FIO’s Insight Marketing Platform. To avoid re-targeting on unavailable items, connect a dynamic inventory feed to your marketing campaigns with rules indicating that you do not want products out of stock to show.
Conversely, seeing the same ad follow you around the web is that much more annoying when it’s for a product you already bought. This is yet another personalization problem that can be easily fixed with a tool like FIOs Insight Marketing Platform in place, as it lets you set up different campaigns for people based on the specific actions they’ve taken, such as when they’ve viewed an item, put it in their shopping cart without buying, or already purchased.
If you effectively use these tools, most remarketing errors can be avoided. Be thoughtful about which ads you serve up when, so you don’t spend money to annoy or disappoint your audience.
3. Skipping Market Research
You’ve likely heard this maxim before, but truer words have rarely been said in the brand marketing world:
Personalization only works if you understand your audience.
Segmentation strategy needs to come with a level of emotional intelligence backing it up. It’s imperative that your brand understands there are nuances to how people approach purchasing your products and services.
The only way to get that level of understanding about your target audience is to spend time getting to know the people in it through data that is collected via customer feedback. Endeavors like surveys, customer interviews, zero-party data and other forms of market research are vital to getting the tone, delivery, preferred channel, rate of advertising, and level of personalization right. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know everything you need to know about your customers based upon a few demographic data points from a form they filled out online.
Talking to your customers can also help you avoid some of the other personalization errors. For example, you can get direct feedback on what level of marketing personalization they like, you can record and utilize that information to ensure you’re always providing them with just enough personalization to keep them happy without making them think you’re a stalker.
4. Getting Too Personal
Here’s another true story from the personalized marketing trenches to illustrate how over-personalization can go wrong: A teenage girl living with her parents started receiving both emails and direct mail coupons from Target for sales on baby-related products due to data Target had captured that she was indeed expecting a baby. The problem was the girl had yet to tell her family of her pregnancy.
While it’s a proven fact that today’s consumers expect personalization, they do so up to a point; if you cross the line into “creepy” territory, the joy of convenience turns into discomfort about their privacy being violated.
So how do you know when you’ve gone too far with personalized data? To stay on the right side of that line, you need to set clear brand guidelines about how you use the customer data you have. Make sure you’re transparent about the data you collect and how and why you use it and give customers the chance to opt in and out. And most importantly, don’t use personal data in an objective vacuum.
This is why zero-party data is so important as we move forward in a cookie-less world. Zero party data is straight from the source intel on your customers, and since they have given a brand permission to use that data to market to them, issues like “creepy over-sharing” can be avoided. If you’ve yet to start exploring the enormous benefits of Zero-Party Data in your marketing efforts, it’s time to start. Contact Group FIO today to begin using the power and protection ZPD provides to forward thinking brands.
If you have yet to begin utilizing Zero-Party Data, Customer Loyalty or Insight Marketing Platforms to boost your customer engagement and overall customer lifetime value (CLV), then it’s time you begin implementing this next wave of technology into your marketing strategy. Contact the team at Group FiO today to find out more. Click here to arrange a meeting.