Why you should stop marketing to segments and start marketing to people

Remember the days when one-to-one marketing meant dropping someone into a campaign with thousands of other like-minded people? When personalization meant something like <first name><last name>?

That approach was perfectly acceptable in the 90s, maybe even the aughts. But it’s nearly 2016 and we now have powerful, data-driven applications that go beyond browser cookies. So how is personalized marketing moving into the modern age? I’ll tell you in four words: unified customer interest profiles.

When creating a profile for site visitors, avoid focusing on what a person does in a single instance. Instead, take a look at everything they’ve done online (inasmuch as you can tell). It’s easy enough to start with your own site. How much of your content did they look at? How long did they spend with it? How many times did they return?

Don’t stop there though. See what you can discover about their off-site activity, too. What other sites did they visit? What did they share on social media? Once you have deep insights into their behavior, you can use what you’ve learned to serve up content that’s truly targeted.

If you’ve ever run retargeted ad campaigns, what we’re talking about is the roughly the same. The key difference: instead of hard-sell ad copy, it’s contextually appropriate content that follows people around the Internet. If 10% of those retargeted with an ad ultimately make a purchase, as Kissmetrics and others report, just imagine the impact a hyper-relevant content program can have.

With a single consumer interest profile, it’s possible to seamlessly tailor content across multiple channels. From the moment someone hits your company’s site, they’ll start to see content that’s been curated especially for them (those tried-and-true “You Might Also Like” recommendations). Then, once site visitors navigate away, display advertising and promoted posts will expose them to related content. There are even opportunities within email marketing where you can surface content tied to a recipient’s specific interests.

Speaking of email marketing, recently released research allows us to extrapolate the potential edge you’ll gain by embracing this new style of personalization ahead of your competitors.

Percentage of marketers utilizing personalization in email

Recipient name 32%
Previous brand interactions 24.4%
Purchase history 22.8%
Social activity 18.8%
App engagement history 15.2%

Source: VB Insights

Perhaps the most shocking discovery is that only 7% of email marketers currently segment their customer communication on an individual basis. And if they aren’t doing this in email — arguably one of the easiest places to personalize — they certainly aren’t concerned with relevance elsewhere.

In fact, of those surveyed, only 31% said they delivered personalized messages via blogs and articles. So don’t miss this chance to connect with consumers on a level your competitors aren’t. The greater affinity you create, the more sales you’ll generate over the long term.

Interested in learning more about content personalization? Listen to our Making Content Personal webinar. It contains almost an hour of insights from former Altimeter Group analyst Rebecca Lieb and OneSpot VP of Product Ryan Rozich.

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