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The Urgency of Personalization in Digital Marketing

Updated: Jan 25, 2020

Today, 80% of consumers will engage in business with a company if they offer personalized experiences, yet only 45% of marketers believe they're using personalization properly in IMCs.

In this blog post, our discussion will build on these statistics through an illustration of the importance of personlization in the digital era, but more importantly a detailing of the foremost online personalization practices to effectively enhance customer relationships.

An Incredibly Brief History of Personalization

The theory of personalization can be traced back to the early 80's, when Leonard Barry, a professor at Texas A&M, first coined the term 'relationship marketing'. Barry essentially proposed that marketers needed to break the tunnel vision they held which focused on execution of sale, and go beyond, considering the brand relationship with audiences.

In the 90's, relationship marketing then emerged as a new stage within the marketing discipline focusing on long-term benefits to both company and customer (switching product orientations), improving trust and commitment states and investment in lifetime relationships. CRM (customer relationship management) soon took center stage after in the same decade with Web 1.0, when web developers began tracking HTML calls that their websites were receiving from online visitors (struggling with what we still do today- using data to absolutely identify customers), and the emergence of email personalization.

Flash forward to 2006, and we begin to see mainstream recognition of the online individual and the true power of user-generated content reflected in Time Magazine's 'Person of The Year' selection, You. The prominence of personalization in marketing would continue to become more apparent through the early 21st Century, as we shifted away from sole mass-communication methods of the Marketing Company Era and towards one-to-one marketing strategies of the Relationship Marketing Era and the digital age.

Time Magazine 2006 Cover

Personalization and its centrality in marketing however, was truly realized when we entered the Social Marketing Era of the late 2000's. With the acceptance of social media into the mainstream, the way companies engaged with consumers and users was changed forever, particularly when considering models for customer relationship management and customer service relations.

Why is Personalization Important to Marketing Today?

Today, we live in the arrived digital age, that is, the future is undoubtedly here. In such a time, consumers have access to a plethora of channels and ergo, content. Unfortunately for marketers, these same consumers are bombarded daily with an overwhelming amount of online marketing content they see in just about every web interaction they have, leading to oversaturation and in some cases, a fed-up consumer unwilling to engage.

The surge of IoT (Internet of Things) is also making the consumer become hyperconnected across multiple devices bringing challenges in the form of communicating effectively across an increasingly fragmented customer experience. The key to tackling these challenges and thus harboring longtime relationships, loyalty and engagement lays in creating a personalized experience. This isn't just a claim from us at Digi Digs, data firmly suggests that consumers want personalization in their online experiences:

• 78% of U.S. web users state that personally relevant content from brands increases their purchase intent (Marketing Insider Group).

• 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized to reflect previous interactions the consumer has had with the brand (Marketo).

• Calls-to-action (CTAs) tailored to individual visitors have 42% higher view-to-submission rates than generic CTAs that appear the same for all visitors (HubSpot). Using personalized CTAs, for example landing pages designed for visitors coming from a certain type of 3rd party site, results in the consumer viewing more of your content.

• 88% of U.S. marketers reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalization, with more than half reporting a lift greater than 10% (Evergage).

Dim Prospects?

It is clear that there is a necessity for personalization within marketing strategy, but it also important to note the flip side. At the beginning of this post, we stated how only 45% of marketers believe they are utilizing personalization in the appropriate manner, but we can go one step further here. The graph below shows that personalization can actually have a negative impact on rates.

Marketing Chart Showing E-Mail Open And Click Rates In The United States In 2016, By Degree Of Personalization

Additionally, the chart below shows how little satisfaction marketers can have with their results.

Graph To Show Overall Marketers Satisfaction With Levels Of Personalization In Marketing Efforts

Our belief at DigiDigs isn't that we should negate personalization across content and in campaigns, that is, to de-personalize. Personalization is still vital to improving engagement, but only if done aright.

The How-To for Personalization

Personalized marketing strategies, or one-to-one marketing, is a four-step process:

1. Identify: this is when data collection happens and we gather basic demographic markers such as gender, age, and location.

2. Differentiate: at this stage, we engage in analysis that allows us to segment users into specific niches we may want to target.

3. Interact: thirdly, we use this collected data to connect with either prospective or current consumers by reaching out to them in the medium and through methods we believe will have highest engagement.

4. Customize: the final stage is where the personalization occurs.

At its core, it is a leverage of data analysis and digital technologies to provide customized, individualized and targeted offers to consumers, but only when done appositely. Below, we include some practices we believe are most influential apropos personalization.

Different colors and individuals to reflect uniqueness and personalization in digital online marketing

Transparency & Authenticity Over Name Tagging

When we think of personalization in marketing, the first thing that springs to mind is use of name tagging, but the consumer today is not a foolish one. When consumers receive name tagged content (typically in email form as shown below), they are mostly aware that the communication effort is being received from a bot nonetheless. Instead, we suggest trying ditching name tagging efforts, and crafting a transparent communicative personality, writing as a real person. This invokes a sense of humanism about the content, and by being more authentic and transparent with your consumers, you are able to ultimately build trust and loyalty.

Relevancy to Consumer

As stated above, personalization is not just a matter of name tagging, rather, the content needs to be relevant to the consumer themselves. What we deem effective relevant personalization employs the creation of content that is helpful to the consumer, and more notably, makes the consumer feel more connected to your brand and business.

Value & Giving Over Asking

In addition, too much of personalization is still rooted in getting consumers to complete certain actions, or driving them to commit to something. This simply isn't an approach focused on longevity and will not earn you loyalty and engagement in the long-term. In lieu of this, when personalizing, we want to show the consumer we care about their choices and preferences that we are aware of.


Fourth, personalized strategies should not be intrusive, or pushy- a consumer should never feel like their privacy is being violated. A more favorable approach is to constantly stay in the shoes of your consumer, thinking from their perspective.

Responsive Design Focus

Earlier, we mentioned how consumers are becoming increasingly hyperconnected with the multiple devices they use to stay online. In order to piece together this fragmented engagement, we need to ensure design is responsive across device types, particularly mobile. This is because in short, personalization is all about consumer convenience.

Closing Statement

In conclusion, we believe that personalization is still a fine incorporation for any IMC, and a must-have, but only when executed in the appropriate manner, otherwise it can in fact, be detrimental for a campaign. In this blog post, we have outlined what we believe to be the preeminent practices for optimal personalization, one-to-one, strategies. Above all, we must remember to practice authenticity in consumer communication and to put the consumer first, always adding value, and solidifying brand-consumer connection.

Personalization shouldn't feel personal, it should be personal.

What do you think about personalization in today's digital era? Feel free to share your comments below, and also share the post if you found it useful. Digi Digs also offers expertise on this topic, so feel free to contact us, directly, we'd love to hear from you.

#DigiDigs #marketingpersonalization #DigiDigsBlog #digtalmarketing

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