Marketers have always wanted to connect with their customers one-to-one. That kind of intimacy has been the dream of marketing since the profession was born.
Of course, mass personalization got us close to that ideal. “Mass personalization.” You know, the kind of marketing where you send out a “personal” email to your entire list, but really, the only thing that’s personal is the name after the word “Dear.”
Years ago, mass personalization was innovative and fresh. But these days, it’s standard fare, table stakes. Today, marketers can do much, much better. Today, we can offer true individualized insights. We can understand our customers as individuals – each with his/her own preferences and behaviors –and we can provide meaningful experiences based on that knowledge.
Think about it. Now that virtually everything we do at home or at work now has an associated digital input, your customers are leaving data trails whenever they engage with you. Everything you need to know about your customers – all those valuable insights –are available, as long as you have the know-how and the tools to find them. It all boils down to adopting data-driven marketing.
As I’ve mentioned before, data-driven marketing gives birth to “no marketing.” That’s marketing where you’re not pushing and you’re not spamming with irrelevant messages. It’s marketing that moves beyond conversations to connecting, to truly engaging with the brand, across all departments.
One of the first steps in getting to “no marketing” is to fully understand the differences between personalization and individualized insights:
- Individualized insights are intimate; mass personalization is interruptive. Marketing is leaving the era of broadcasting messages to audiences. Customers are done with fragmented messaging, spamming and other strong-arm tactics. We now have the technology to enable brands and consumers to develop partnerships and – in the best-case scenario – even become one, creating the ultimate, intimate customer experience.
- Individualized insights integrate all relevant data. Personalized marketing doesn’t require much data. You don’t need much sophistication to add a name to the top of an email or send out a “Happy Birthday” discount. However, to deliver more relevant and timely interactions – knowing that a customer prefers free shipping to a discount, reaching out via SMS when a customer nears one of your brick and mortar locations, e.g. – you’ll need to tear down silos, integrate all the touchpoints, analyze all the data and then act on those insights.
- Individualized insights give customers want they want. Mass personalization is “nice.” It’s polite. And there’s no doubt that customers now expect you to know them at this very fundamental level. Individualized insights take your marketing campaigns to a completely new level. With individualized insights you’re able to give customers what they want, not just what they expect. Your customers want you to understand their preferences and behaviors, and they want you to use those insights to deliver meaningful, timely interactions.
So don’t waste your time and resources mastering yesterday’s mass personalization techniques. In order to maintain your competitive edge, you’re going to need to use all the data that’s available to create interactions that are relevant and valuable to your customers. When the customer, brand and marketer are aligned, the customer experience is optimized, and you can move far beyond mere personalization to true individualization.