Do you remember the time when you walked into your favourite pastry shop and the guy behind the counter knew it was your birthday, because he noted it down 2 years ago when you accidentally mentioned it? What a great way to start your day, realising that you’ve got a free donut on your special day. Back then it took a great effort to know customer details and create truly personalized offers for them. Today, things have changed. We are annoyed by the notifications, text messages, emails, pop-ups and all the aggressive marketing materials that appear in front of us on our birthdays, only because we forgot to hide our date of birth on one social media platform. Many marketers think this is personalization, but they are wrong.
As digital technologies open new ways to communication, many forget they should not advertise for the sake of advertising, or because the competition is also pushing its messages there. The possibility to spend money in order to get attention is way too easy. This sets the background of the exponentially growing marketing noise, because everybody can consume its marketing budget within just a few clicks. And people will get results, this will drive them to spend even more. The problem is related to the quality of the results. Using $500.000 to get a 0.5% sales conversion that drives a couple of millions in revenue might look as a good deal. If you want to grow, you can double your investment and you double your results. Sounds pretty straightforward.
The question we don’t ask is what happens to the 99.5% who don’t convert, who ran away from the campaign?
Even if we take some extraordinary conversion rates, over 90% of the energy looks it was wasted. Well, probably not entirely, as some of your audience might return and convert in a later stage, but the overall efficiency is pretty demotivating. If the trends continue, conversion benchmarks will drop drastically in the next 10 years. However, before stopping all your marketing spending, wait a minute: there is hope on the horizon. Let me explain.
The noise is out there, but in the meantime both human beings and businesses remain to have valid needs. The tricky part is that these needs are not obvious and they are not connected to our birthdays (unless you are in the cake business) or other basic personal/business information. To map these needs, we need to switch from personalization to hyper-personalization. What does this mean? It means we have to think in the 6Rs:
The right time: when is the best time to show your message
The right message: what is the message that resonates and makes sense for your audience
The right channel: what is the most appropriate channel to connect with your audience
The right way: what is the right method to create engagement
The right audience: who are the right people that are truly interested in your offering
The right budget: what do you need to spend to make sure you position yourself with enough visibility
The principles are simple, yet, doing your marketing by these can be quite challenging. There are multiple ways to start your hyper-personalization strategy, but they are all complex. If you want to do it properly, you should understand and build your digital experience ecosystem. (Read more about digital experience ecosystems here). To get closer to the topic, here are 3 ways on how hyper-personalization offers a way to stand out from the marketing noise:
The end of single channel marketing and biased decisions
Facebook itself can give you tons of data on your audience if you know how to use it professionally. The amount and even the quality of it suggests that it’s already a step forward if you continuously analyse and learn from it. It is. Nonetheless, let me tell you a campaign experience. It happened a couple of years ago, we were running a considerable 6-month campaign for one of our partners. As key channel we chose Facebook. After the first run we started analysing the details. What the data was showing was a bit weird. It looked like the majority of our target audience had split personality, on weekdays they were consuming content related to technical engineering, while on the weekend they were enjoying children content. At one moment we asked ourselves, did we find a huge group of people with a specific mental illness? No, we didn’t. The problem was that we were looking only at the data we got from Facebook. We had an idea to complete the campaign with a second channel and see what kind of results do we get. After a few days we realized that a single data channel drove us in the wrong direction. There weren’t any problems with our audience. We missed the device information from the primary channel. What happened was that the men who were our target audience gave their smartphones and tablets to their children on weekends. Wow, it’s pretty obvious, looking back, it is now. It was a good lesson to learn, that even though you have a huge data set from a single channel, bits and pieces might be missing and can lead you to biased conclusions.
When building a hyper-personalization strategy, you have to make sure you collect data from all the relevant channels possible. This will give you a data rich background to recognize patterns that helps you define your digital user personas, aka. the right audience.
A/B testing on a completely new level
While A/B testing is nothing new for the experienced marketers, most people use it for landing page conversion optimisation, selecting campaign visuals and deciding on what messages work best. All these are important, still with hyper-personalization you can take things further. To achieve great results you measure each element of the 6R, and if you have the right technology, you can do it live, on the fly.
As a starting point use piloting (Read more about piloting here) to map the digital data landscape and then A/B test the elements and subelements of the 6R. Of course you probably already have some data patterns from your previous marketing activities, so use the take-aways from that, although don’t take everything for granted. You might be surprised what lies behind connected data intelligence.
When applying the right hyper-personalization strategy you commit to a continuous testing and learning. The effort you invest in it will grant you not only positive ROI, but sustainable growth and meaningful competitive advantage.
Marketers shifting more towards strategic activities
Do 1 million impressions matter? No, they don’t. Only those 5,237 impressions count that stimulated brand connection and led to sales. Technology is here to help you find the needle in the hay. To do that, a different marketing approach is required.
In the near future operative marketing tasks will diminish for brands who adopt hyper-personalization in their marketing, sales and communication. This change will lead marketers to take more data driven decisions and focus on creative strategies. The things we - humans - are good at, and machines are not capable of.
Those who decide not to chaise short term success and invest their energy in strategic enhancement both technologically and perspectively, are the ones who will be able to build up unfair leverage and become leaders in their industries. If you want to be part of them, focus on these 3 questions:
- What do you know about your audience and what would you like to know? Some of the information you are already collecting, but there is still a lot you can get. Define what is missing and think how can you acquire it.
- How do your marketing, sales and communication activities connect to each other? Are they properly connected? Map your funnels from start to end and find weak points. Find a way to complete these and have a big picture that is built up from multiple funnels.
- What do you need to collect, connect and follow the data in real time? Spend time on learning more about the digital experience ecosystems and platforms that open the gateway for hyper-personalization.
To sum it up, hyper-personalization can help you find a way out from the potentially infinite loop of marketing noise. It is far from an easy fix, requires continuous investment of time, money and energy, but it has a strong ROI. Stronger than most of the marketing investments you currently do. So use it, the sooner you start, the more you can profit from it.