Put your consumer hat on for a moment and think of the interactions you have with the brands you love. Think of the emails you receive, the app notifications on your phone, and the text messages. Then think of the banner ads you see as you surf the internet and the targeted ads you see as you search. For better or for worse, marketers are learning about you. They are learning about the products you use and your preferred communication styles. And this trend is becoming increasingly important. From a marketer’s perspective, personalization is about showcasing the right products and delivering the right customer experiences, to the right people, at the right time.
Why Is Personalization in Digital Marketing Accelerating?
Three factors are driving the ability of marketers to personalize communications to small segments of consumers:
- Consumer Demand
- Big Data
Consumer Demand: Consumers — for the most part — want personalization, and the one-to-one marketing experiences continue to rise as marketers use technology and big data to customize each interaction. On a weekly basis, consumers witness customer experience improvements from their favorite brands.
Amazon is the leader in online retail. Though the company sells anything and everything, from popular products available in brick-and-mortar stores to obscure items that would not do well in a physical location, the experience feels as intimate as a boutique shop. No matter your interests, Amazon can appear to each user as a store dedicated solely to you.
The more a consumer engages with the website, the more it learns about the shopper’s preferences and the better it can deliver a personalized experience. Navigating the site, finding exactly what you want, getting relevant recommendations, and being able to return products easily are all in part, components of personalization. And remember, it wasn’t always this way.
YouTube is another example of consumer demand driving personalization. YouTube is geared to helping consumers discover content based upon what the site learns through consumer use. Each consumer gets a unique, personalized view that adapts to their tastes but is also designed to help expand their interests. Using algorithms to make appropriate recommendations personalizes shopping for the customer.
Take this simple example: If the data shows that people who have subscribed to channel A and channel B have also subscribed to channel P, then A and B channel subscribers will get exposed to content in feeds from channel P.
Consider your experiences with media 15 or 20 years ago. You would watch cable TV, scroll through the guide and hope to find something of interest. The closest this experience came to personalization was a button to set your favorite channels, but you had to do the work.
Now, not only can you quickly get to the content you want through many media providers, but the providers are actively finding content for you that you never would have found without personalization.
Technology: Advances in tech have enabled marketers to continue discovering new ways to personalize marketing communications. Websites enable consumers to customize products to their liking, with tailored fits and color schemes for clothing and apparel as an example. Nike enables shoppers to customize their own shoe designs and even promote those designs via social media.
Marketing automation tools enable marketers to trigger lead nurturing campaigns based on consumer activities or engagement with their websites and social platforms. These make it easier than ever to segment audiences with unique messages that seem tailored to each individual consumer.
Mobile technologies take personalization a step further, with automated alerts triggered by customer preferences from downloaded applications and beacon technology that automatically sends messages to people within a certain geographic location — near one of the company’s stores they’ve shown interest in online, for example.
Big Data: Data is behind all of these consumer experiences and technologies. For example, remarketing technologies that show ubiquitous banner advertising relevant to a consumer’s prior online activities are enabled by Google’s continuously growing database. Corporate consumer databases have grown amazingly complex over the years simply by amassing information that consumers have provided. The present and future of big data is in machine learning, whereby companies like Facebook compile behavioral databases that marketers can use to target the people most likely to be interested, based on recent prior online activities.
Personalization has come a long way in just a few short years, and the trend will only accelerate from here. Given how consumer demand, technology and databases do not advance on a linear curve, but rather exponentially, a fascinating future awaits those who invest in learning more about personalization in digital marketing.
Learn more about Southern Utah University’s MBA – Marketing Emphasis online program.