Everything in marketing comes down to the consumer. No matter the channel or the strategy or the offer – it’s the consumer who has the ultimate say in whether a campaign succeeds or fails.
There are plenty of ways to woo and engage consumers. Marketers have tried clever advertising, discounts, exclusive products. We’ve offered free shipping, two for one offers, world-class customer support. The list goes on. But despite all those special favors, customers still want more.
And they should. Because despite all the free goodies and discounts and whatnot, marketers usually treat consumers like they’re all the same. We send them an offer for 30% off on dog treats (for example), without even knowing if they have a dog. We give them coupons for stuff they don’t normally buy. We put things on sale they’ve never even looked at – and then we send them an email celebrating those unwanted items on sale.
Granted, those tactics do work some of the time. Consumers are good at sifting through hundreds of offers to grab what interests them. And, to an extent, they can control which companies and messages they get. That gives them another basic filter. But it’s not good enough. All the noise is alienating these good people. 40% of consumers say most promotions don’t deliver anything of interest. That sounds disconcerting, but it’s actually an optimistic stat. In one study from First Insight, consumers said only 1 in 20 emails is relevant to them.
No wonder marketers are seeing drops in engagement. If we aren’t delivering what people want, there’s no reason to be engaged.
Consumers’ frustration with these poorly-targeted messages goes a bit further, though. You see, they know we’re collecting information about them. According to Forrester research, “70% of consumers surveyed are aware that companies use personal information to send them targeted offers.” So consumers know we’re collecting their information. They expect us to use that information – and use it to their benefit.
There’s proof that demand for personalization is rising. Consider personalized websites: A 2015 survey of over a thousand Internet users found that personalization came in as the fourth most-expected attribute of a website.
There’s also proof that this expectation for personalization is rising – by a lot. Here’s two other charts from that same study. The percentage of people who want websites to give them personalized information has jumped from 26.7% in 2014 to 43% in 2015. At that rate, it’ll be 59.3% by this year.
The good news here is that personalization is something both consumers and marketers can get behind. Consumers want the personalization. Marketers want to give it to them. Why? Because personalization is one of the best ways to boost sales and increase retention. Personalization gets results.
Personalization came in as the #1 objective for a data-driven marketing strategy in Ascend2’s Data-Driven Marketing Trends Survey.
Wanna know why? Here’s the type of results marketers are getting from it:
Unfortunately, many companies are still figuring out how to get those results. They’re trying to get the benefits of personalization without investing in multi-million dollar programs that net minimal returns.
But some companies are doing it well. And some techniques appear to work better than others. Here’s a walk-through of the five personalization tactics most likely to succeed. Where possible, I’ve included both the whiz-bang results and simpler, lower-tech ways to get most of the same results.
1) Personalized pop-ups.
According to Evergage’s 2015 research, pop-ups are the most common channel marketers use to send personalized messages.
This isn’t too surprising. Pop-ups are almost impossible to ignore – that’s why they’re so good at building email lists.
Here’s one example of a personalized pop-up. This one is based on where the user just came from. Customizing content based on where people came to your site from is one of the most effective ways to personalize messages. It’s also one of the least talked about.
Want to try this out? Respondr customers can personalize on-site pop-ups easily with Mustache. Here’s what it looks like in action:
In Respondr, your popup template looks like this:
Respondr makes it easy to trigger abandoned cart popups like this and many others when the visitors attempt to exit the site or when other events occur.
2) Personalized email messages.
It’s time to go beyond just inserting [FIRSTNAME] into the subject line. That usually does get more opens and clicks, but you don’t want to use it for every email. Besides, there are other places to use someone’s first name. The salutation is a great spot. And so is the close of your email, just before the call to action. You can even slip it into the body copy, particularly if you open a paragraph with the first name.
But that’s still very simple. Especially when you know what’s possible. Consider this email from Moveable Ink:
With some carefully written copy, Moveable Ink was able to use data from Boden’s customer files to create 19,977 unique stories of customers’ relationship with the brand. The result? A 2000% increase in revenue per email over average. 10% of the customers who got these emails placed an order.
Here’s another clever example of a personalized email, from Moveable Ink’s Inkredible 5, Spring 2016 report. Here they made an email with animated gifs that showed each subscribers’ current location and weather conditions in the left column. In the right column, they showed the weather conditions at a vacation destination.
As with the pop-ups, Respondr customers can use Mustache to embed personalized information into their email messages. Here are a few ideas for how to do that:
- Cart abandonment emails: List what someone has left in their shopping cart
- Add a section of recently viewed products into your email newsletter updates.
- Send detailed transaction confirmation emails with product discounts, cost, shipping costs and more.
- Bonus: Remind customers about what they left behind by adding a list of recently viewed items to order confirmation emails.
3) Personalize product or content recommendations.
Sometimes it takes a couple of clicks to find just the right thing. So make it easy for browsers by adding a section on each page for related content, or related products.
To give you an idea of how powerful personalized content can be, consider this case study from The Content Marketing Institute and the University of Michigan. The goal here wasn’t just to make a sale – it was to get young people to quit smoking. The program’s managers also mixed in some other healthy habits to support that larger objective. Then they packaged the entire program as if it was a personal makeover plan.
To achieve the goal, program managers set up an intelligent content system that served up personalized content for each one of the study’s participants. The content was personalized based on how people answered a survey and on their click patterns. Here’s the final results of the system:
Those are impressive results, but maybe you’re not quite ready to set up an entire intelligent content system. No worries. There are simple ways to get most of the same results as this study got, without investing in a massive software setup.
For example, if you’re on a WordPress platform and you want to add recommended content options, try these plugins:
Over 300,000 active installs can’t be wrong. This free plugin lets you recommend other posts, pages and custom post types. It also has a promotion feature – you can pay to promote your content on other sites.
Slow websites crush ecommerce conversion rates. So while plugins can offer great features, always ask yourself: Will this slow my site down? Yuzo won’t. It’s also free and lets you set up related posts and post types. The design is extremely customizable too – your web designer will like this one. For similar features and speed, also check out Related Posts for WordPress.
4) Add an “items recently viewed” section.
I’m sure you’ve seen this feature on plenty of ecommerce sites. There’s a reason – showing people what they’ve already expressed an interest in makes them more likely to buy. That’s the whole principle behind retargeting.
But let’s stick to just showing recently viewed items on your website. Your site’s “recently viewed” list could go into the body of the page, or into the navigation column. Here’s an example of this from Amazon.com. They add a line of recently viewed items to the bottom of every page:
UK retailer Tesco also adds their recently viewed items near the bottom of the page:
You can add this type of recently viewed items list anywhere on your site with Respondr. It just takes a few lines of code, and we’ve written them out for you already. See the instructions here.
5) In package inserts
Low tech can be personal, too. Just a quick hand-written note can make a permanent impression on a customer. All you need is a pen and a nice piece of paper to do this… and maybe an extra minute of your time.
Those are just a couple of the ways retailers and other online businesses have personalized their content. As you can see, effective personalization doesn’t have to require big software investments, or a lot of setup. It’s perfectly okay to start small and test as you go.