Why personalised marketing is about more than dropping names into a template

What do we actually mean by personalisation? Here’s a hint: it’s about more than knowing someone’s name.

A name is just a label for a person. And a person is more than just a name. Personalisation, in marketing terms, means getting to know someone as well as you can. And adjusting your messages to reflect that knowledge.

What do they do? Are they married, divorced, in a relationship? Do they have kids? What do they love to do with their time? What’s their passion in life?

But, there’s a problem. Even the cleverest algorithms in the world can be pretty stupid when it comes to ‘personalising’ their marketing.

You may have searched for information about Louis Vuitton handbags, but that doesn’t mean you’ll ever going to own one. Especially as you’re a hairy 15-stone marketing manager who likes to play rugby before a good night out with the lads. Tough. You’re going to see ads for Louis Vuitton for months to come. (Hope your wife, girlfriend, significant other liked the bag, by the way.)

So how do you get personalisation right?

1. Get the demographics right
The key to getting personalisation right is to think carefully about how people interact with your service or product.

All the usual demographic criteria will come into play here. Are they in your market by age, location, earning power? Can they afford it?

2. Segment your audience
Unless you’re operating in a very, very niche market, it’s impractical to write a brief and create a bespoke message for every single message to every individual customer or prospect.

The simplest way to personalise a message is to use their first name. The smarter way to personalise the message is to segment your customers by whatever else you know about them.

Have they bought from you before? How often? How loyal are they? Where are they in the sales funnel – actively interested or disengaged?

3. Customise the message
Segmenting your audience enables you to create personas for each segment, a character sketch for each type of audience that you can then use to adapt your message to meet each persona’s needs.

Online, you can personalise messages in other ways, based on time, location or even the weather.

As with things in life that sound simple, personalisation takes a lot of time and effort to get right. But the results are worth the effort.

According to the 2017 Personalisation Report by data infrastructure specialists Segment, 44% of consumers are likely to become repeat customers thanks to personalisation. And 49% have bought a product that, initially, they weren’t intending to buy.

What’s your best and worst experience of personalised communications? We’d love to know.