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Guide to marketing personalization — benefits, examples, and more

Everywhere you look, brands are embracing personalization. From the ads that pop up on your social media feed to the barista at the local coffee shop who greets you by name, customers are growing accustomed to personalized experiences. While personalization isn't a new concept, recent advances in technology have transformed how and where it can be used.

Whether your audience is interacting with your brand through social media, on your website, or by email, they have come to expect a personalized experience that makes them feel valued and prioritized. In one study, 71% of consumers said they expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. And 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.

Incorporating personalization into your marketing strategy is vital if you want to increase customer engagement and conversions. But first, you must understand what personalization is and how it can help you improve your business.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • What is marketing personalization?

  • Importance of marketing personalization

  • Marketing personalization trends

  • Examples of personalized marketing

  • Challenges of marketing personalization

  • How to get started with marketing personalization

  • Tools for marketing personalization

  • Marketing personalization FAQs

What is marketing personalization?

Marketing personalization is a strategy that uses data to target and retarget leads with a brand message that speaks directly to specific customers’ interests, demographics, and buying behavior.

With a personalized marketing strategy, your customers should feel like the brand message was made just for them. So personalized marketing may sometimes be called one-to-one or individual marketing.

Companies like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube use personalization tactically — using an algorithm to automate suggested products, shows and videos for you to explore. These recommendations are based on data collected from what you search, purchase and watch — and on the viewing habits of other users with similar tastes.

However, personalization isn't just for digital channels, and customer engagement is only one benefit of personalization. Customers are more likely to revisit their favorite hotels, cafes, or salons if they feel they are being delivered a targeted, personalized user experience. They’ll show loyalty to brands that make them feel special.

Next, we’ll explore why every business should be prioritizing personalization.

Importance of marketing personalization

The main reason for personalizing your marketing is that customers expect it. Personalization is the difference between your customers feeling like you are speaking directly to them versus feeling like just a number. It's estimated that the average person will see around 1,700 advertisements each month. Your message must cut through the noise — not by being louder, but by being more relevant.

Whether you're looking to personalize one component of your strategy or transform your entire marketing plan, your business can benefit from a personalized approach in many ways:

  • Better connection with customers. For instance, with personalized emails that incorporate your leads’ names and other tailored additions, your email is more likely to convert. What’s more, 73% of customers say they’d rather do business with brands who personalize their emails.

  • Boosted revenue. Personalized shopping experiences encourage consumers to become repeat buyers — and brands that create personalized experiences see a spike in transactional rates, buyer retention, and revenue per transaction.

  • Improved buyer targeting. When do your customers like to be contacted? How much contact do they want? Customers prefer when brands understand when and how to approach them and keep a respectful distance, so getting to know your audience is a key part of personalization.

  • Stronger brand reputation. People buy from brands that provide them with a customer experience that makes them feel good. Take a brand like the pet company Chewy. If they discover that a customer stops ordering because of their pet’s death, they will reach out personally to offer condolences. This kind of personal experience makes a lasting impression and will endear a brand to its customers long-term.

  • Enhanced lead generation and customer retargeting. When you solve your target audience's problems, it builds trust and makes your customers more willing to provide feedback and information.

  • More effective customer retargeting. The reality is customers won't buy from you right away. It can take multiple interactions before leads are willing to make a purchase. However, personalization allows you to begin nurturing a relationship, making consumers excited about doing business with you.

  • Satisfying customer experience. Making a customer feel seen, heard, and understood through personalization tactics is a fantastic way to improve your customers’ overall customer experience.

  • Increased customer loyalty. Consumers want personalized content — and it encourages them to seek more information or content about your brand. The more positive experiences your leads have, the closer they get to becoming a loyal customer.

  • Greater return on marketing investment. Personalization can help you gain more loyal followers who follow you for life — or at least longer than they would have without personalization. Research shows that quickly growing companies generate 40% more revenue from personalization than their slower-growing counterparts.

  • Added consistency across channels. The omnichannel customer experience is no longer the future. It’s expected. Consistent and familiar branding and tone across all channels is a way to gain trust and credibility with customers.

Keep reading to learn about the latest trends in personalization marketing.

Marketing personalization trends

It’s always important for companies to understand marketing trends, and right now personalization is the hot-button topic in digital marketing circles.

Here are some marketing personalization trends to get you up-to-speed:

  • Need for more personalized emails. Inboxes overflow and people’s time is precious. Personalizing subject lines is an easy and useful technique to make it sound like you’re talking to each customer directly. If you’re doing so, make sure you’re honest about the content of the email — clickbait techniques can often backfire.

  • Less generic advertising. Customers can get frustrated and annoyed when brands rely on old-fashioned generic advertising.

  • Increased personalized product recommendations. This highly popular tactic is a growth game-changer. Highlighting relevant products through data collection is a great way to bring the right product to the right customers.

  • Growing customer expectations. These days customers expect to be inundated with a personalized customer experience. If you’re a business not catering to these expectations, you’re already behind.

  • Beneficial purchasing behaviors. If you’re personalizing your marketing content, then you’re actively driving repeat engagement and loyalty. And each time a customer returns to buy something else or even just interact with your brand, more data is generated for more precise behavioral targeting, which will help you get to know their buying preferences even more.

  • Boosted email open rates. By personalizing emails, companies stand out from the pack of desperate-sounding subject lines. According to industry data, emails with personalized subject lines have an open rate that’s more than 20% higher than those without.

  • AI-powered personalized marketing. Thanks to recent advances, AI-powered content writing is making strides in testing and personalizing social media posts, blog articles, and other materials to quickly figure out what customers prefer.

Now that you know about personalized marketing, its benefits, and the emerging trends, let’s go over some examples of what personalized marketing looks like.

Examples of personalized marketing

Sometimes the best way to understand something is through concrete examples. Below are the different ways you can employ personalization techniques in your own marketing strategy.

Targeted emails

Targeted emails are a way to deliver personalized content to different audience segments. This can boost ROI, result in improved engagement, and help to create relevant content. Proven strategies include segmenting your mailing list, using targeted messaging, tracking behavior, or retargeting abandoned cart shoppers.

Custom video messages

Personalized videos are more involved than saying someone’s name at the beginning of a video. It’s video content tailored to one specific person, to the degree that it wouldn’t make sense to send to someone else. Usually, this effort is made in account-based marketing with specific B2B buyers.

Product recommendations

Whenever you visit a favorite website and see a list of products especially made for you based off your search or purchase history, those are product recommendations. These recommendations are powered by AI and machine learning, and are often a powerful driver for increasing conversion rates.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing — or SMM — is the strategy a company uses to advertise and promote products, while also building a unique brand. Your company uses the data acquired through your social media platforms to better inform or personalize your content to fit your consumers’ needs. Approach SMM like most other marketing initiatives — formulate a strategy and schedule, create and publish content, and then track and measure performance.

Fear of missing out (FOMO)

FOMO marketing uses people’s fear of missing out to push products and services. Because of its nature, it’s a tactic that employs urgency around a lack of time. You can use messaging like, “Don’t miss out!” or “Sale ends soon!” to really drive the point across that customers have a limited amount of time to take advantage of whatever you’re offering.

Account-based marketing

Account-based marketing, or ABM, is a B2B marketing strategy that targets the highest-paying accounts, or those most likely to make a purchase. If you think about it in terms of a brick and mortar, instead of treating everyone who walks through the door exactly the same, the salesperson favors loyal customers or those who they suspect may spend a lot more than others.

Location-based marketing

Geotargeting customers based off their current location is a great way to literally meet them where they are. Say you’re Walgreens and notice a thunderstorm is rolling through a local area. Geotargeting those customers with umbrellas and flashlights would be a wise and timely move. Location-based marketing is yet another marketing tactic that uses data collection to better understand and personalize a customer’s experience.

Challenges of marketing personalization

Like any business initiative that relies heavily on emerging technology, adopting personalization in marketing can be challenging. For instance, 63% of digital marketing leaders say they still struggle with personalization, yet only 17% use AI and machine learning.

Here are some of the common pitfalls those digital marketers may be facing:

  • Difficulty gathering customer data. Website, app, and email analytics can track customer behavior, but the accuracy can sometimes leave marketers unsure.

  • Retargeting that is too aggressive or intrusive. Maybe a customer considered buying a pair of shoes on your site and even placed them in their cart, only to decide on a different brand. Targeting them for weeks or even months about the pair of shoes they already decided against will be off-putting.

  • Not allocating enough resources. Strategy is still a people skill, no matter how automated your personalization may be. Maintenance, including updates and strategic pivots, must be helmed by humans who have a big-picture understanding of a company’s brand.

  • Struggling to link data to individual customer profiles. The data that businesses collect is extremely valuable. However, marketers often struggle to unify their customer data into a single customer profile.

  • Figuring out smart segmentation. In smart segmentation, machine learning places existing users into different purchasing behavioral groups. You’ll need to find a tool that works for you.

  • Having technology limitations. Technology is not a fail-safe. Particularly with personalized marketing, data privacy and regulations stop you from misusing sensitive information.

  • Experiencing consumer data silos. Make sure your marketing and sales teams are aligned on tracking customer data and avoid each department sending duplicate messaging.

How to get started with marketing personalization

Even if you have access to customer data and the right tools, you may still be wondering where to begin. This quick step-by-step guide will help you on your path to marketing personalization.

Step 1: Create a team to spearhead the effort.

It’s important to have a dedicated internal team in the marketing department focused on strategy, implementation, and maintenance.

Step 2: Choose where you’ll personalize.

There are many different online marketing channels and stages of the marketing funnel where personalized marketing can be effective. However, email marketing and your website remain the most effective channels for personalized marketing.

Step 3: Plan how you’re going to capture and use data.

Without good data, you can't create effective personalization strategies. Keep in mind that consumers want to give consent and be informed when you're tracking their data.

Step 4: Confirm the technology stack.

It's likely that your customer relationship management software (CRM) will become the hub for all the customer information gathered from sales calls, third-party data providers, and lead capture forms. However, it's often more effective and simpler to manage all your personalized marketing from a single marketing personalization and automation solution, such as Adobe Marketo Engage.

Step 5: Develop and activate.

After doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes work, it's time to look at the specifics of your personalization campaigns and activate them.

Step 6: Use data to segment your audience.

Identify different customer segments to create content, experiences, and messaging that fit their needs.

Step 7: Test and refine.

Once your personalized marketing campaign is live, it's time to test and refine in the pursuit of continuous improvement. A good way to test personalized marketing is A/B testing, where you can compare how various audiences respond to different messages.

Tools for marketing personalization

Below are tools to help you personalize your marketing strategy.

Data analytics

With data analytics you use data from page views, email clickthrough rates, and other methods to notice trends and gather insights into customer behaviors. You can then use this information to create personalized marketing strategies.

Data management

Data must be organized, maintained, and stored to be effective. From there, data can be shared with publishers and digital ad buyers to land those personalized experiences.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Keep your customers’ data organized on one single platform. CRMs are key for seeing how customers interact with your company and can help better inform marketing strategies.

Post-click landing page

This is a standalone page separate from your website’s navigation usually used to convince a customer to take an action. Because it’s stand-alone, tracking is specific to this marketing campaign, making tracking more efficient.

Customer Data Platform (CDP)

A CDP is a centralized platform that holds data from multiple tools. It’s a great resource for marketing personalization because it holds data on all touchpoints and interactions a customer has with your company.

Deliver personalized marketing experiences with precision

Personalization is essential to the success of your marketing strategy. However, to gather, analyze, and apply your consumer information, you'll need to pair your personalization efforts with marketing automation to engage with your customers across channels consistently and efficiently.

It’s time to start delivering the right experiences at the right time to your unique customers. Adobe Target is your personalization solution. It uses A/B and multivariate testing to create a powerful optimization engine across screens and channels.

Built for marketers, Target makes it easy to perform testing, measurement, and optimization, all without writing code. With the power of machine learning from Adobe Sensei, Target personalizes experiences based on historical behavior, rather than the latest transaction.

Watch an overview video of Adobe Target’s personalization capabilities.

Marketing personalization FAQs

What does personalization mean in marketing?

In marketing, personalization means using data and analytics to create content tailored to each individual customer. This could include a tailored ad based on search history, a personalized email message, or a landing page that surfaces specific content based on user behavior.

Why is personalized marketing important?

Incorporating personalization into your marketing strategy is vital if you want to increase customer engagement and conversions.

How effective is personalized marketing?

Consumers prefer when brands understand when and how to approach them and keep a respectful distance, so meeting this need can make them more likely to make a purchase. And personalized emails that incorporate your leads’ names and other tailored additions are more likely to convert.

How does personalized marketing impact the customer experience?

Personalization is the difference between your customers feeling like you are speaking directly to them versus feeling like just a number.

What is an example of personalized strategy?

Examples of personalized strategies include product recommendations, custom video messages, and social media marketing.

What is a personalization strategy?

A personalization strategy is about identifying different customer segments and creating content, experiences, and messaging to fit their needs. This could include approaching a customer who has left items in their shopping basket with an incentive to finish their transaction, for example.

How do I measure personalized marketing efforts?

Pair your personalization efforts with marketing automation to engage with your customers across channels consistently and efficiently. Adobe Target is one such solution for measuring marketing efforts.

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