From a very young age, we've all had to deal with two competing forces. There's the voice inside that tells us we are the center of the universe and everything revolves around us. Then there's the external voice — usually from a parent or teacher — that tells us we aren't the most important thing in the world. While everyone is different, this first voice — along with advancements in technology — has fostered a marketplace where customers demand personalization.
The consumer demand for personalization
Don't look now, but millennials are swallowing up an increasingly large share of the consumer marketplace. Thousands are entering adulthood on a daily basis and many more are established in their careers and looking for ways to spend the money they've worked so hard to earn.
What does this have to do with personalized marketing? Well, millennials are the kings and queens of personalization. They want everything to revolve around them. And while it's easy to shame them, we have to remember that they're merely byproducts of their environment. We created a world that prioritizes personalization and now have a generation that's largely narcissistic.
Want to know just how rampant the millennial ideology is? Take a look at some of the different statistics gathered by Joel Stein for his Time article titled "The Me Me Me Generation":
- The incidence rate for narcissistic personality disorder is three times greater for people in their 20s than for those 65 and older.
- Millennials are so conditioned to receiving participation trophies that 40 percent believe they have a right to be promoted every two years, regardless of performance and output.
- 58 percent more college students scored higher on the narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982.
This isn't meant to be a hit piece on millennials. They clearly have skills and opportunities that previous generations never had. Many are ambitious and make full use of the resources that have at their fingertips. What these statistics do show is that the average customer in today's marketplace has an innate expectation that brands will deal with them in a manner that respects their individuality.
Five personalization tips for better marketing
This call for personalized marketing is one that scares many businesses. The mere presence of the word "personalization" seems to be attached to words like "time-consuming" and "costly." But there's a lot more to it than that. While personalized marketing may require a shift in your way of thinking and some careful strategizing, the return on investment is higher than anything you're experiencing right now - guaranteed.
If you're interested in learning more about personalized marketing and what it can do for you, check out the following tactics that you should be able to successfully use in order to engage your target market:
1. Market research matters
You can't personalize your marketing efforts if you don't know who your audience is. This is why market research always plays a prominent role in driving personalized marketing.
"In the last few years, that's been an increase in the tactics available to allow businesses to passively gather data on their customers," says Edan Portaro of EVP Global Business Development. "These include everything from website analytics to in-product reporting applications that relay customer behavior. What that's led to, in many cases, is an abundance of data without a clear focus."
If you want to put market research to work for you, it's time to shift to active data collection. This can come in the form of surveys, interviews, and other hands-on efforts. Not only will this allow you to better understand your customers, but it also removes any security issues that were otherwise present.
2. Build multiple customer personas
Just because your audience may skew towards certain characteristics, doesn't mean all of your customers are the same. This is a costly assumption that businesses make and often ends up harming the overall pursuit of highly effective personalization. The key is to use your market research and sales data to build multiple customer personas so that you're able to better target individual customers.
Once you have these personas in place, you can use them to guide your marketing in small and big ways. To see what it looks like in practice, check out an example from Trip.com. They use filters at the top of this landing page to let travelers search based on factors that matter to them - such as budget, families, luxury, business, trendsters, etc. The result is a unique search experience that's catered to the individual.
3. Implement remarketing technology
Have you experimented with remarketing? Using Google Analytics, you can create remarketing lists and deliver timely and relevant ads to customers who've previously visited your website and spent time engaging with your products and services. You won't reach everyone, but it's a fantastic way to recapture lost leads and keep your brand on the top of your customers' minds.
4. Focus on benefits over features
One marketing mistake everyone from rookies to seasoned veterans make is trying to sell customers on the features of a product. In case you forgot, features don't sell - especially in the age of personalization. Today's customers want to know how a product benefits them.
Take the example of cleaning products. Nobody wakes up in the morning and gets excited about cleaning products because the bottle features a unique spraying action and the formula contains more organic ingredients. That would be ridiculous! What people get excited about is the fact that a particular cleaning product leaves countertops three-times shinier than the leading competitor and doesn't leave a noticeable chemical smell. Those are benefits and they're much more enticing than features. Personalized marketing is all about focusing on benefits and only using features to support claims.
5. Stop using cookie cutter content
The final tip is pretty straightforward: stop using cookie cutter content. Today's millennial consumers are savvy and understand the difference between vague content that's meant to appease the masses and personalized content that has them in mind.
Stop using stock photos and content that speaks to nobody in particular. Develop reader personas and let them guide everything from the headlines you use and the topics you discuss to the images you select and the calls-to-action you produce.
Make personalization a priority
Don't let the term scare you - personalized marketing represents the wave of the future and is your best chance to engage with millennials who make up a growing majority of the consumer marketplace. By making a few tweaks and placing an emphasis on meeting your customers where they are (as opposed to fighting their tendencies), you will enjoy positive results.