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PHOTO: Greg Goebel

Marketers want personalization. We know that. And the numbers back it up. In fact, 92% of B2B marketers say personalization is a must, according to an Adobe 2019 report on personalization (PDF). But 91% of senior decision makers in the same report say their companies need to improve personalization capabilities. And, according to our own research on what people search for in this arena, we found at least one search term that corroborates the difficulty of personalization: “Why is marketing personalization so hard?” 

Difficult as it can be, there are naturally multiple marketing personalization strategies brands can deploy. But it will take work. Do you have the resources to build the content it takes to provide personalization? Do you have the data, and from where is that data managed and delivered? Is one-to-one marketing personalization possible?

Those are some of the questions marketers and brands need to address as you craft your marketing personalization strategies. We caught up with some pundits who shared more tips to get you going.

Look to the DAM

The main challenge many organizations face with personalization is how to do it at scale without fear of butchering the brand, according to Byung Choi, CEO of MarcomCentral. Without proper controls, he said, brands run the risk of having rogue marketing assets created that don’t reflect the brand identity accurately. “Utilizing a digital asset management (DAM) platform that offers customization of marketing assets can help solve that issue as you can now put the power of personalization into the hands of employees or field teams, without worrying that they will create something off-brand. It’s freedom with control.” 

This marketing personalization framework takes the burden off marketing teams to create thousands of pieces of collateral and turns it into a self-service model to serve the needs of organizations’ internal customers, according to Choi.

Related Article: True Marketing Personalization Takes Talent, Technology and Empathy

Content That’s Purposeful, Relevant

Google's most recent core update, focuses on improving its algorithm to better reward quality site content, according to Sam Parsonson, digital PR specialist for marketing agency seoplus+. “Instead of merely recognizing content being produced as a whole,” Parsonson said, “it's putting an emphasis on what your site is providing for its users. It's no longer just about getting your name out there, it's about ensuring your brand has a purpose and is relevant… Delivering irrelevant content has the power to hurt your brand's reputation more than ever, due to the demand for relevancy from users today.”

Meeting Prospects at Email

Sometimes it’s good to remember the basic digital touchpoints. Cassy Aite, CEO and co-founder at Hoppier, said one of the best personalization strategies his company has is its email strategy. Simply put, it segments its email subscribers immediately at signup. “When they come to our website and fill in a form to leave their email, we let them tick off the categories that they are interested in,” he said. “That way, they only get relevant content that they are truly interested in.”

Aite said it takes some time to set this up, but the overall results are much better. “The bounce rate is lower, the clickthrough rates are higher and the conversion rate is significantly increased,” he said. “It’s not hyper-personalized to the level of an individual user, but this method ensures that your subscribers get only the content that they want.”

Related Article: The Next Evolution in Email Marketing: Beyond Personalization

Drumming Up a Sound Personalization Framework With Data

A good personalization framework focuses on two areas: who and where, or audience and context, according to Zach Van Kerrebroeck, account executive at StackAdapt. “Marketers often struggle with reaching the right audience and knowing where to start is challenging, especially in digital campaigns,” Van Kerrebroeck said. “That's where sourcing good data and knowing how to leverage it is key.”

Most marketers already have customer personas mapped out, and those personas translate to data types in the online world. “The tricky bit,” Van Kerrebroeck said, “comes in understanding where the data to support those audiences should be sourced from." 

First-party data is every marketer's best friend, and that data usually includes lists of current customers or client's people who have already engaged with the brand, shown intent and become a qualified audience. “Marketers need to determine if the data can be deterministic (specific) or probabilistic (variable),” he said. 

Building Out Marketing Personalization Context

Personalization is all about providing a positive and engaging user experience by demonstrating that you really understand who the customer is as a “person,” according to Van Kerrebroeck. Always consider the user experience when it comes to creative strategy and brand messaging. “That will decide the best medium and format to use in delivery,” he said.

Personalize your campaign by leveraging sequential messaging. By retargeting users who have engaged with your content and ads already, you're able to create the user journey and reach those users through multiple contexts. This makes marketer performance and customer experience extremely effective, according to Van Kerrebroeck.

Van Kerrebroeck cited the example of a marketer who ran a digital campaign with a video ad. They can retarget audiences who watched the video all the way through with a different medium, like a display banner. Users who targeted that banner can then be added to a native advertising campaign. “The result,” Van Kerrebroeck said, “is cohesive personalization that successfully reaches audience targets through three different messaging mediums or environments.”

Related Article: When Marketing Personalization Becomes Too Intrusive

Personalization Requires Deep Insights

Ed Marsh, CRO for IntentData.io, finds most companies struggle with either not having the right data, or not using the data they have. Further, most companies try to personalize with a slight variation based on industry or persona, and it ends up too stiff and canned. Real personalization, he said, has to incorporate information about the person, their stage in the buying journey, their firmographic background and even what their colleagues are doing as well. “That means,” Marsh added, “having the right insights into account and individual activity, including granular detail that provides contextual clues.”