True personalization is about delivering a completely contextually relevant experience at the 1:1 level. By collecting consumer information across all channels, digital marketers can create a holistic profile for each consumer, enabling the marketer to deliver that optimal and personalized experience.

Whether you’re just starting out, or you need a refresher course, here’s a breakdown of a few common techniques that marketers use to deliver personalization.

Segment Your Audience

Marketers often make the mistake of only targeting consumers using demographic or geographic data. For example, visitors from the West Coast will see Experience A, and visitors from the East Coast will see Experience B. By stopping at basic demographic or geo-level data, marketers miss out on many implicit and explicit cues that consumers leave behind as they interact with your brand over time that provide the true customer intent. These cues can and should feed into the personalization decisions we make, which will result in optimized experience for the customer.

As a digital marketer, if you haven’t already segmented your audience, this should be your first step. The easiest way to segment is to compile your data, across all channels, devices and domains, and group your audiences by common needs, priorities and attributes. The more actionable, effective and permissible data you collect, the more refined your segmentation can become, which will get you closer to the holy grail of marketing: one-to-one marketing, or “a segment of one.”

Behavioral Targeting

The behavior of your visitors provides insight into their end of the conversation and their true intent at that moment. If you track and analyze behavioral patterns, you can get smarter over time about how to best craft the experience of individual users. Targeting behavioral traits, coupled with numerous other types of data sets, powers the best possible personalization at the 1:1 level, differentiating your company from your competitors.

Keep in mind, behavioral attributes will vary in importance depending on your business. For example, if your website sells sporting gear then geographic location is key -- you likely won’t be selling snow skis in Hawaii. If your website sells electronics, then geographic location might not matter as much.

Here are four popular ways to personalize a consumer’s experience based on their behavior. There are many more but this provides some examples of how brands are leveraging behavioral target today.

  1. Basic profile information: Track what you know about a visitor (e.g. geographic location and the device a visitor is using to access your website)
  2. Website layout / content preferences: Look at browsing and shopping preferences (e.g. time of day visitors access your site and filters they use to search your site)
  3. Graphics / product images: Monitor product preferences (e.g. size, color and price of products a visitor tends to click on).
  4. Type of offers and depth of promotions: Pay attention to how visitors value your brand (e.g. how often they visit and price points of historical purchases)

Marketing Cloud Technology

Marketers must embrace the innovation that exists today to deliver more relevant experiences to customers as they interact your brand and come to the realization that a closed suite marketing cloud won't deliver. You will never see the day where a single vendor operating a closed suite provides every perfect solution across the marketing technology landscape. Marketers need to be able to leverage an open platform that enables them use the best solution for each application. Closed marketing suites force marketers to use applications that are not best in breed and come with significant limitations.

It is a simple choice for large enterprises: A cobbled together set of acquired solutions or a true best of breed marketing architecture? Do you want to build a marketing platform or embrace complacency through the most convenient option?

To avoid getting lost in the noise, below are some things to consider when evaluating marketing technologies to support your path in delivering successful personalization:

  1. Speed / scalability: Does the technology offer real time analytics? Can it scale to any size? This is essential in dynamic customer profiling to offer a truly personalized experience.
  2. Cross-device functionality: Does the technology capture visitor data across all digital touchpoints?
  3. Ease of use: Can marketers rely on themselves to manage tools and tags? If so, this will free up your IT staff, putting the control back into the hands of the marketers.

If you can achieve an experience that delivers a holistic profile for each visitor, enabling an optimal, omnichannel marketing experience, you’re on your way to creating a distinct competitive advantage over your competitors.

Title image by Hope Abrams (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license