Most of the time, when we talk about marketing, we talk about how to get your message out to the largest number of people possible. In this article, however, we’re going to talk about the value in reaching one person at a time or, marketing lingo: how to use personalized marketing to your advantage.

Hold the Phone: What the Heck is Personalized Marketing?

Personalized Marketing is a buzzword for making sure that your marketing messages are targeted to one person at a time. You create a message that is based on a person’s individual preferences in an attempt to simultaneously endear yourself to that person and get them to buy more of your stuff.

The single best example on the Internet of personalized marketing is Amazon. As soon as you log in to Amazon, what do you see? A list of recommended products based on your browsing and purchase history. New books by authors you’ve bought in the past. Sales in departments you browse through a lot. After you make a purchase, you’re sent an email asking you to rate your experience. They make everything about you. Love or hate the company, one thing is for sure: they do personalized marketing right.


 That Sounds Like a Lot of Work! Why Should I Do This When Other Methods are Already Working?

The short answer? Because it works. Study after study proves that personalized marketing efforts improve sales and customer retention. What’s more, that same research says that even though it used to freak us out when a website remembered us, now we’re offended when it doesn’t. There are even some people who said that they leave a website that feels impersonal or, worse, that gets someone’s personal details wrong.

The simple fact is that nobody wants to feel like a number or a credit card with feet. Something as simple as using a person’s name in an email increases the chances not just that the email will be read, but that the recipient will be more likely to take advantage of any offers contained within the email. That means increased loyalty and sales for you!

Okay, You’ve Convinced Me. Now How Do I Do It?

When you first start learning about personalized marketing it sounds endlessly complicated. Really, though, most of the time using a simple script or code snippet is all you need to help you personalize your marketing efforts. Those codes and scripts are used to accomplish the following three things.

Personalizing Marketing Messages That You Send Out

The more personalized information you can put into the email you send a person, the better your response rate will be. For example, many touring bands personalize their messages not just with a person’s name but by that person’s location. Instead of sending out a mass email with a long list of tour dates, they’ll write several individual messages with information on a specific tour date in the recipient’s town or state and include ticket purchasing info, etc. that is specific to that one concert.

The amount of personalized information you can put into an email is going to depend upon the amount of personalized information you collect from each person who signs up for your list. Make sure that you get at least a person’s name, age, location and gender. You can ask for more details, of course, but never ask for less.

Using a Person’s Browsing Activity While on Your Site

It’s rare to find a person who doesn’t know what cookies are and how they work. In fact, the average web user expects that sites are going to try to install tracking cookies on her computer. This is why web browsing platforms all offer users the ability to use the internet anonymously (or, in Chrome Lingo: go incognito).

Before you get discouraged, know this: there are ways to get around anonymous or incognito web browsing. Some website owners are using a technique called fingerprinting to remember a user (or, at the very least, a computer) when he or she returns to the site. Fingerprinting scripts can easily be installed into a site’s code to act either simultaneously with the cookies or as a backup when an incognito browsing session is detected.

Another method of getting around incognito browsers is a method called ReMarketing. Remarketing is a marketing technique offered by Google—it works as part of the Adwords program and “serves up” personalized ads for your products when that user is looking at another site.

Putting a Person’s Purchase History to Work

Tracking a person’s activity while on your site and their purchases is one of the best ways to personalize marketing efforts in the future.  This is the technique Amazon uses to personalize its marketing campaigns.

Great! Now: How Do I Do This Well?

There are all sorts of examples of companies that really miss the mark on personalized marketing. For example: how many emails did you get today with “Dear NAME%” or something similar?

The best way to make sure that you don’t turn people off with your personalized marketing efforts is to get people’s permission before you do anything with their personal information. For instance, do not require people to log in to your site with a personal login. Letting people use a social login instead will increase trust and, ironically, individual account creation. Ask them to enable cookies instead of making your site inaccessible without them. Why? Because you’re letting the user make the decision of how much information they want to share with you.

Taking this one step further, do not require people to give you more information than you absolutely need. Remember that demographic information listed above? Start there. Do not require anything else. Ask for it, sure, but don’t force people to give it to you.

And, of course, having very clearly worded and easy to find ToS and Privacy Policies will help you quite a lot in this area.

If those things don’t work, try good old fashioned bribery. Offer discounts and free merchandise in exchange for giving you the personal information you need. You would be amazed at how much a 20% off discount code or a free report will sweeten the deal when asking people to do things for you.

A Final Note

Personalized marketing isn’t 100% about the marketing messages you send out. It is also about personalizing the content and products you offer to your customers. A good example of this is the “members only” newsletter filled with gluten free recipes that goes out to My Daily Recipe members who checked the “gluten free” box in their preferences section.

Another great example of this is the store loyalty program—you swipe your card with every purchase and the system remembers what you’ve purchased and then sends you coupons for the items you shop for a lot or a gift card for a certain percentage of what you’ve spent at the store. They might even have members only events and sales.

Offering people content based on the personal preferences and details they’ve shared with you is a great way to build brand loyalty and increase your sales at the same time.

Remember: people want their favorite brands to recognize them as individuals and not just potential sales. If you want to increase your company’s loyalty (and profit margin, who are we kidding), personalized marketing is a great way to do exactly that.