For today’s marketing and sales teams, personalization is essential to bringing in customers and gaining loyalty. In fact, 80% of today’s customers are more likely to buy from a brand that invests in personalization.
In an increasingly digital world, it’s more important than ever to add a human touch to the customer experience. But personalization can be hard to scale and make consistent — especially for small teams.
So how can you personalize in a way that’s effective, efficient, and doable? Drift VP of Content & Community Mark Kilens and Pavilion VP of Marketing Carly Pallis say it’s all about targeting the market segments that are most important to your business, starting small, and harnessing the power of tech to take strategic steps that enable sales and marketing teams to personalize campaigns with laser focus.
Achieving personalization in a digital world
When it comes to personalization, the writing is on the wall — or the internet. In a new McKinsey report on socialization, 71% of respondents expected personalized interactions in their customer experience, and 76% get frustrated when that expectation isn’t met. If that doesn’t make the business case for personalization, consider that fast-growing companies derive 40% of that growth from personalization.
But how do you personalize in a pandemic where one-on-one, in-person interactions are in short supply? Pallis, appreciates the difficulty many sales and marketing teams face.
“This idea of personalized messaging bringing the human element back into the digital world is more important than ever before because we can’t have more of those in-person experiences,” says Pallis.
But she believes that, if targeted to the right customer bases, strong connections can also happen in the virtual realm.
“We have to heavily rely on digital touchpoints to connect with our buyers or target personas. Personalization is what’s going to make the difference there,” says Pallis.
Meet buyers on their terms
It’s fair to say that most businesses are hungry to start personalizing their product, but many face barriers early in their personalization journey. Some teams — accustomed to client dinners and swag — are still struggling to adapt to the digital realm. Other businesses are small and lack the human power to launch big, scalable personalization campaigns. Still, others have the funds but don’t know what to prioritize.
Regardless of your business’s size or budget, Kilens says there’s always one good place to start.
“Personalization starts with the segments that matter most to your business,” says Kilens, stressing that creating better buying experiences for these targeted segments is one of the most important areas to invest in 2022.
Kilens recommends laser-focusing on the market segments that have the greatest impact on your teams’ pipeline and revenue efforts, then beginning to understand these segments through an integrated sales and marketing strategy and the use of technology. Once you’ve done that, you can meet the buyer where they are, in the ways they like to engage, with solutions to the specific pain points they have — what Kilens calls having the right conversation at the place at the right time.
Start small and build smart
Once you’ve picked your persona and worked to understand key segments, it’s tempting to try to personalize everything and hope that something sticks. But Pallis recommends building your personalization one deliberate step at a time. For her, the path is simple: start small, prove that your efforts are working, and scale it from there.
Many companies go for razzle-dazzle, wining-and-dining their clients, or sending thoughtful but pricey gifts. Others think personalization means addressing a potential client by name when they visit your website. But for Pallis, it’s not about personalization for personalizations’ sake. Customers want to know how businesses will deliver value via their products.
“Personalization doesn’t have to be a book or a box of margaritas,” says Pallis. “Personalization can be having a landing page on your website for a specific persona.”
Alternatively, it could be a short video that speaks to a question you’ve determined your target segments are asking or a blog post about a problem you’re uniquely positioned to help them solve.
Kilens agrees. “Personalizing content without thinking about an integrative approach to personalization is not worth the ROI,” says Kilens.
Instead, it’s about engaging your ideal customers when and where and how they want to be engaged, with often simple tools and campaigns targeted for the people who want or need your product most — something businesses both big and small can do.
Personalize with context
As you personalize for your customers, remember to personalize the experience for your sales team, too, giving them all the information about the campaign they need to identify, reach out, and personalize talk tracks for the customer. If sales doesn’t understand your campaign or your personas, they won’t be able to personalize in a way that speaks to prospective clients’ needs. Your sales team, after all, is the engine that brings customers from the realm of mere interest, directs them toward a purchase, and engages them to create brand loyalty.
“I could put together the best campaign ever,” says Pallis, “but if I launch it without enabling sales to support the campaign in the right way, it will never go as well as it could.”
For Kilens, this means creating integrated teams that span functions where everyone strategizes, learns, and evaluates. At Drift, this looks like weekly Monday Metrics meetings where each team reports back on progress and learnings and gets looped into future plans, alongside in-depth meetings between sales and marketing leads and regular report-backs on Slack.
“Personalization goes beyond your target persona and customers to be internal as well,” says Kilens. “To really nail personalization, you need to apply it to sales.”
Eyes on the big personalization prize
Personalization might seem daunting, but by starting small, identifying your ideal customer, and integrating your teams and technology to create winning strategies, you won’t just win a customer for a day. You will get the grand prize: helping a customer find a solution they need and winning their loyalty for the long haul.