What is Personalized Marketing? (And Why 1-to-1 Messaging is the Answer)

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Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Thursday, May 20, 2021

With the opportunity to deliver a truly unique experience to consumers, personalization is a channel marketers cannot afford to ignore.

Article 6 Minutes
What is Personalized Marketing? (And Why 1-to-1 Messaging is the Answer)

The goal of every marketer is to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time, ensuring you get the most bang for your buck. Segmentation isn’t a new concept, whether that’s having newsletters for different industry sectors or using demographic information in communications. But as technology improves, so does the ability to target ever-smaller segments for a truly personalized experience.

What is personalized marketing?

Personalized marketing is the concept of delivering only the messages a customer is interested in, at the time they are interested.

Displaying content relevant to a user helps them to feel a connection with your brand, builds loyalty, and enables you to gather behavioral data. Offering promotions and information at the right time improves sales in a cost-effective and targeted way. And the more customers are presented with interesting content, the higher engagement will be.

However, one of the most important benefits of personalized marketing is what it doesn’t do: it doesn’t fill inboxes with irrelevant junk. Faced with content overload, many people start to disregard all advertising messages before they even notice if they are of interest. But being ignored is not the worst that can happen. Three quarters of us get frustrated when websites insist on showing us irrelevant material, and the last thing you want to do is irritate a loyal customer into unsubscribing.

Using one-to-one messaging to deliver targeted messages

Once you have the message and the audience, you need a delivery method. When it comes to delivering a personal experience, it’s hard to beat one-to-one messaging.

One-to-one messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat have come a long way since the original AOL and MSL versions in the 1990s. They are more private than social networks, but more flexible than SMS with full support for media, audio and video chat, and more. Unlike SMS they are completely free, and they are less clunky and impersonal than email.

Their popularity is undeniably on the rise. 1.82 billion people already use messaging apps, but it’s estimated that number will have increased by 26% by the end of 2020.

Uptake is different across different audiences, but if your customers aren’t there yet, they soon will be. For marketers, one of the great things about messaging apps is that consumers tend to keep their smartphones with them all day. That means it’s possible to reach them at the exact time they are considering a purchase, rather than the next time they happen to be at a desk.

How to use one-to-one messages for marketing

There are many types of communication that can be handled in one-to-one messages.

SMS is already commonplace for purposes like confirming online orders, arranging delivery slots and gathering customer feedback. These basic tasks can be easily transferred to messaging apps, with the benefit of much greater flexibility in your messages and improved customer engagement. This is also a good way to test how keen your customer base is to receive messages in this way.

Companies like KLM and H&M already use messenger apps for customer services, from responding to customer queries in a fast and human way to letting customers rearrange flights.

But the medium is also open to more innovative and proactive uses. Shoe retailer Clarks developed an interactive storytelling campaign while Agent Provocateur ran a personal shopping service through WhatsApp. 

New services available on messenger apps

It’s not all about the messages. App developers are working to develop their platforms for a wider range of uses.

China’s WeChat already has a variety of integrated functions ranging from health monitoring and gaming to professional tools like expense tracking. Facebook is working to develop Messenger along similar lines with integrated payment, support for chat bot and ecommerce options, while WhatsApp is launching a version of its app specifically for businesses.

By keeping all these activities in one place, the ambition is to broaden the appeal and improve the experience for users and marketers. Consumers will be able to easily control communications and review their expenditure at multiple retailers from a central hub, while marketers will have a broader range of information from which to create a richer and more nuanced view of the customer.

Why mass marketing is in decline

Mass marketing isn’t as effective in today’s world as it has been traditionally. So, what is it about the ever-evolving marketing landscape that’s making mass marketing so ineffective and driving alternatives forward?

  • Increased competition - it’s impossible for brands to stand out through mass marketing alone in such an overpopulated environment. They must differentiate from their competitors in order to stand out.
  • Personalized customer experience - personalization is no longer a nice-to-have offering. It’s vital for building profits and loyalty, with customers looking for niche experts to fulfill their needs.
  • Personalized marketing campaigns - offers guidance and value in a way that demonstrates the brand understands its customers.
  • Digital market research - adding website forms and tailored emails to your list enables you to conduct market research efficiently.
  • ROI - mass marketing is no longer cost effective, as targeted one-to-one messaging returns better results.

Why personalized marketing is vital

Over the years, consumers have become immune to mass marketing, as they’ve been bombarded with untargeted ads across multiple channels. This has led to them switching off in droves and the feeling that brands just want to sell their products instead of solving a potential customer’s problems.

Marketo found nearly two-thirds of consumers are switching off from traditional marketing as they feel companies just repeat the same message repeatedly. According to Epsilon, the answer to this is personalization, which appeals to 90% of 18 to 64-year-olds.

Is the future of personalization 'hyper'?

If personalization is proving effective, then hyper-personalization must have the potential to take one-to-one messaging to a whole new level. This method uses advanced techniques like AI, real-time data and behavioral indicators. While hyper-personalization can be responsive to a customer’s needs and make marketing more relevant, this technology should be implemented with care.

Using hyper-personalization to deliver real value for a consumer will be welcomed, but there’s a fine line between providing tailored help and being perceived as knowing too much about an individual. Research from Gartner showed how this can have the opposite effect of building brand loyalty, as 38% of customers said they’d take their business elsewhere if a company’s hyper-personalization efforts felt inappropriate.

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