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Personalized Marketing 101: Where to Begin

5 minute read

How you can incorporate personalization into your digital, print, and direct marketing campaigns to generate faster revenue growth.

With the saturation of digital marketing channels, forward-thinking businesses have been presented with an opportunity to leverage (often overlooked) personalized marketing strategies, by introducing print and direct mail into their broader campaigns.

This article explores what personalized marketing is, and why small to mid-sized businesses should start leveraging it.


What is personalized marketing?

Personalized marketing is when businesses collect and leverage data or personal information to segment customers or prospects, and then customize the content that customers in those segments receive across multiple channels.

Segmenting is often done based on groups with common needs and/or those that respond similarly to a marketing action. This could be done using geography, product types purchased, age, and turnover using just a few examples.

Personalization refers to not only leveraging a group of channels (or channel mix) deemed to be relevant for that segment but also weaving personalized messages into the communication materials used by those channels. For example, using data points to insert personalized content into your text, such as the recipient's first name, business, or job role.

Why your business should leverage personalization

According to Evergage, the analytics platform for Salesforce, 98 % of marketers say personalization effectively advances customer relationships. A recent report from Adobe found that 89% of marketers see a positive ROI when they use personalization in their campaigns.

Encumbering businesses with getting this right, a report by McKinsey highlighted seventy-one percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and seventy-six percent get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.

However, get it right and, “companies that grow faster drive 40 percent more of their revenue from personalization than their slower-growing counterparts.”

How can I start leveraging personalization?

While larger enterprises may have little difficulty dedicating the fiscal and human resources needed to add personalization capabilities to their communication toolbox,  small and mid-sized businesses can struggle in their efforts to leverage this powerful tool.

Specifically, using personalization in email campaigns, mobile messaging, website content, social media, and of course, print, or direct mail. Integrated marketing (i.e., multi-channel marketing or omnichannel marketing) is a strategy that combines these elements to produce a campaign that touches a targeted audience through multiple channels simultaneously or in a series.

The illustration below shows a typical integrated marketing workflow15301_Leveraging Personalisation Blog Graphic_72dpi

The key element to any of these programs is data collection and management. The marketing plan revolves around the available audience data. As always, better quality data will drive better quality marketing and communication programs.

Furthermore, a well-designed campaign can improve and expand the audience data. Today print is often overlooked, as many marketing campaigns can focus purely on digital programs — but print can be integrated into digital campaigns, and when executed correctly, print can also include personalized elements.

Direct mail has the potential to drive response rates that are as much as x28 times higher than email. Printed communications can be integrated using QR Codes or pURLs (personalized URLs).  

Navigating technology

For small and medium businesses (SMBs) looking to take advantage of these programs to improve their outbound marketing, the technology landscape can be daunting. Numerous solutions handle pieces of the workflow – but many leave the business to string it all together.

Also, small businesses aren't as likely to have a good handle on their customer data. It's often trapped in disconnected systems such as; email, accounting, and marketing software. For most, marketing data comprises a customer name, address, and email address.

Web-to-print software, like MarketDirect Cross Media® is designed for that exact reason — to provide a simple, intuitive yet comprehensive solution that anyone can use to drive compelling and personalized communications. The right software platform can provide one integrated environment to manage communications — and combine them with customer data to build personalized email, web content, print, and even mobile elements.

Most importantly, when looking for a software solution, find one that manages your customer data, empowering you to create personalized content that speaks directly to targeted audiences, increasing engagement. With each campaign you run you’ll be adding another layer of intelligence about your customers.

Once you've got better quality data — what can you do with it?

Once you have quality data that combines contact information with behavior and transactional data, you know enough about your customers to personalize your communications. For example, if you look at your customer data and see that a group of your customers order the same items or services, you may decide to make them aware of the other available services. If you look at your customer data and notice that individual customers haven't ordered from you for a long time, you may want to reach out and offer them a promotional discount for the next order. Personalization helps improve the results of almost any outreach campaign.

What should you personalize?

You can personalize almost any element of your communication. This includes text/copy — where you can insert values directly from your customer database (think of a mail merge in Microsoft Word) Dear . You can personalize graphics, images, and artwork. This might be data-driven and based on customer profile data.

You can personalize an image's contents — you may have seen an image where names are written on a cake or in the sand at the beach (see below). These elements help to drive better engagement and higher response rates.

Where Do You Begin?

One of the first campaigns I often recommend, particularly for a SMB is a lost customer recovery campaign. It’s simple, you don’t need complex data to drive it, and the results and impact can be realized quickly — assuming the messaging and call to action is on point! 

Start small and don’t overly complicate things. For example, a great way to learn to use the technology is to begin by communicating you’re your internal employees first (e.g., company newsletter or employee communications). Make sure you include personalized elements in even the most straightforward campaigns.