Don’t forget the personal in personalisation – know the difference

By virtue of the very word, ‘personalisation’ has come to mean many things to many marketers – Ash Salleh breaks down the difference between personal and personalised marketing, and the role each plays in the marketing toolbox.

Ash Salleh 150 BWFor many marketers, personalisation has become the key to converting audiences into paying customers. The terms ‘personalisation’ and ‘personalised marketing’ – along with their derivatives – are the most common buzzwords in the entire marketing world, but they also tend to be among the most misunderstood.

Some marketers try to implement personalisation techniques without a complete understanding of what personalised marketing means and what it entails. As a result, their personalised marketing strategies don’t meet their expectations, or worse, fail entirely.

So what does personalised marketing actually mean? Moreover, how does it differ from personal marketing, another misconstrued concept? Personalised marketing and personal marketing are often used interchangeably, even though they are two different approaches to connecting with audiences.

What is personalised marketing?

Emarsys defines personalised marketing as the “implementation of a strategy by which companies deliver individualised content to recipients through data collection, analysis and the use of automation technology.”

Businesses leverage customer data and marketing automation technology to provide a tailor-made experience to audiences. Doing so brings in a slew of advantages for businesses that include:

  • Brand distinction

On any given day, consumers are bombarded with messages, videos, blog posts and ads from various brands. They are provided with way more content than they can possibly consume. For many consumers, it can be a challenge to tell which brand is which.

Personalised marketing is one way for a brand to stand out. A person could receive offers from two companies that sell identical products, but that person will most likely remember the company that delivered the more personalised experience.

  • Improved customer experience

Today, consumers can literally make a purchase without needing to get up from their seats. Since almost everything is digital now, consumers are hungrier than ever for personalisation. In fact, a joint survey by RedPoint Global and Harris Poll revealed that 63% of consumers expect personalisation as a standard of service.

This is why personalised marketing is important. By offering consumers the kind of personalisation they’re looking for, you improve their experience with your brand.

  • Increased revenue

Personalised marketing is not just about improving the customer experience. When you give audiences what they want, you get increased revenue in return, especially when it comes to certain marketing channels. 

According to a study from Experian Marketing Services, companies that sent personalised emails experienced a 600% increase in transaction rates. Furthermore, according to data from Campaign Monitor, marketers who segmented their campaigns saw a 760% in their revenue.

Related: Head to head: is personalisation killing brands? Adam Ferrier and Stewart Gurney face off »
bird fight personalisation

Personalised marketing in action

There is perhaps no better example of personalised marketing in action than the emails you receive from brands every day. With more than 3.8 billion users worldwide, email is the most-widely used digital communication channel today. It only makes sense that companies apply personalisation techniques to their email marketing.

Email personalisation tactics range from basic to complex. 

Campaign Monitor example 1

Source: Campaign Monitor

The simplest thing that marketers can do is to include the subscribers’ first names in the subject lines and greetings of the emails they send. It’s a tactic that takes minimal effort but can result in significantly higher engagement rates.

Campaign Monitor example 2

Source: Campaign Monitor

Meanwhile, behavioural segmentation is one example of complex personalisation. To implement this tactic, companies analyse the customer data stored in their email platform, CRM and all other software they use. This allows them to send emails according to each customer’s unique pattern of behaviour. For example, companies can customise product recommendations based on the customer’s specific purchases.

What is personal marketing, then?

Companies make use of data and automation for their personalised marketing strategies, which actually makes the messages very impersonal. 

If personalisation means that you, as a customer, are reduced to a tiny blip on a screen filled with countless other tiny blips, then it’s hard to consider that as anything even remotely resembling ‘personal’.

This is what sets it apart from personal marketing.

Personal marketing is about emotion. It’s about evoking a positive emotional response from your audience. Companies can’t automate emotion. Regardless of how much customer data they analyse, it won’t tell them how their customers actually feel.

Personal marketing is about reaching out to audiences and trying to build actual relationships with them. It’s about getting to know who customers really are and what makes them tick. Marketers can’t accomplish this by simply staring at data.

Personal marketing is also about how companies market their unique brand and make it special in the eyes of consumers. No, it’s not the products or services they sell. Rather, it’s something far more intangible. It’s the value that companies bring to the lives of their consumers.

Personal marketing in action

Companies today have embraced personalised marketing due to its benefits in terms of increasing engagement, brand awareness and, of course, revenue. Personalisation is what makes the marketing world go around. As such, real-world instances of personal marketing in action have become increasingly hard to come by. 

That being said, one case of personal marketing in action is Nike’s recent Dream Crazier ad. At one minute and 30 seconds long, the ad does not promote any specific Nike product. 

Instead, the ad features tennis superstar Serena Williams narrating over a montage of female athletes competing in various sports. In her voice over, Williams describes the disparity in treatment between male and female athletes, highlighting how female athletes are often called “crazy”.  She also describes how a multitude of female athletes have changed the landscapes of their respective sports, before finally ending her narration by saying “Show them what crazy can do.”

What makes Nike’s ad a great example of personal marketing in action? First and foremost, the ad speaks to the hearts of not just female athletes, but the millions of females around the world – most of whom have likely experienced discrimination at one point or another.

Rather than advertise their products, Nike chose to focus on a very specific portion of their audience. By doing so, Nike created something that resonated with that portion of their audience base.

Nike also made the perfect choice in Serena Williams. Her speech of encouragement in the ad is something that has no doubt inspired all the women who saw it. This type of positive emotional response is not something that can be felt just by reading a personalised email. This is the power of personal marketing.

Wrap up

Personalisation is the norm in marketing. Its effectiveness in driving engagement and revenue means that it won’t go away any time soon. However, companies should not forget about personal marketing. Every company should make an effort to really get to know their customers and try to develop actual relationships with them. For any company, getting personal with customers offers many intangible yet equally important benefits.

Ash Salleh is director of SEO at Campaign Monitor

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Image credit:Hugh Han