Facing dwindling attention spans and intensifying digital noise, marketers keep resolving to prioritize personalization. But are we following through?

Most marketers continue to rely only on demographic data. In fact, 94 percent of senior-level executives believe delivering personalization is critical or important to reaching customers. Yet fewer than half of marketers are capturing customer behavioral data — and customers are suffering through the result.

In a recent study, only 31 percent of consumers said they felt companies are consistently delivering personalized experiences.

If personalization is such a priority, why are we taking so long to do it and why aren’t we doing it well?

Limited Options for Personalization

For a long time, we didn’t have a choice. We juggled spreadsheets and synced lists … and then synced them again. The information available for personalizing customer communication was static, limited and often provided by customers themselves. 

There were fewer opportunities and means to use data and in the era of batch-and-blast, most consumers didn’t have high expectations.

Another issue is mindset. Many businesses are stuck in their ways, focusing on simplistic personalization and marketing for acquisition and lead generation (where there’s less data to work with, anyway). 

This top-of-funnel fixation relies on constantly churning through people to extrude as many customers as possible – not on building relationships.

Focus on Long-Term Engagement

Smart marketers know that meaningful personalization relies on contextual and relational understanding. If you flip the funnel over to focus on customers, or even better, go beyond funnel-based thinking, communication with customers becomes a long-term mission that leads to long-term engagement.

And of course, there are the tools. In large part, marketers are still adjusting to the massive shift that’s been underway for a long time.

Endless amounts of data, the dizzying rise of the marketing tech stack and high consumer expectations have created the perfect storm.

The result: an amazing opportunity to succeed (and to fall short). While modern digital marketers are turning to marketing stacks over heavy platforms, they still find that liberating behavioral data so they can use it across tools and channels hasn’t been easy.

It’s not surprising that only 14 percent of marketers recently surveyed are personalizing on more than one channel and integrating between them.

Embracing Cross-Channel Personalization

The hard truth is, if you aren’t reaching customers with relevance — the right message, at the right time, on the right channel – coordinated and consistently, you’re not truly personalizing.

Cross-channel personalization driven by what customers do and behavioral signs of intent rather than an age group or zip code, is possible. It requires a stack of tools that give marketers more control over data to holistically design a standout customer experience that builds trust and value.

Assuming you have the right technology in place, use this one principle to guide you toward more personalized, meaningful customer communication. 

Use Smarter Segmentation

While the possibilities for how you segment your customers are endless and range from simple to sophisticated, smart segmentation comes down to 1) your goals, 2) the data you have on hand and 3) your ability to use that data to create specific enough conditions to define segments to drive toward your goals.
 
Beyond basic, static segmentation that relies on information like age or gender, the real magic happens when you personalize based on customer actions and behavior.

Types of Behavioral Data

There are many different types of behavioral data, based on everything from page views, events and app actions, and interactions with your previous messages. Combine that with dynamically updated customer attribute data and you can get super targeted.

  • Want to send a message whenever somebody on a low plan visits the plan page without upgrading?
  • Or what about nudging the people who have never used your top feature about its benefits?
  • How about following up on an unopened push notification with an email?

Your challenge as a marketer should be thinking about ways to reach exactly who you need to influence behavior, not blasting out generic offers.

Much as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, personalization is in the experience of the customer. Incorporating behavioral data into how you segment your message recipients is how you deliver.

Aim for Personally Relevant Messages

Personalization should feel personally relevant, which means your message and its purpose should connect with your recipients and their goals. It’s a sure-fire way to stay focused on the customer experience, which empowers you to become more agile and stand out in the digital space.

Behavioral data gives us an opportunity to connect with real people, improve their experience and provide value, have a conversation, and make a meaningful difference in how they understand and view your brand. 

What are you waiting for?

Title image by Greg Rakozy