Content personalization has been the band-wagon you could not miss jumping onto in the last 10 years. You will find very few naysayers, but you just found one. I HATE personalization. You can shake your head all you want, you can say all the stereo typical, “but people want to know you are speaking to them, that you know them” and all the other superficial fluffy arguments. BUT, can you actually stop for a second and think about your audience, your customers? Better yet, did you ask them? You are welcome to stop reading right here. Yes, yet again I am telling you to connect with your fans, your customers, your advocates. I will probably champion communities for the rest of my time in marketing and communications. Why guess what you should do, when you can ask someone who actually knows!?
So, stop for a moment and ask your customers or better yet, your fan community, and find out what level of personalization they like.
There is a HUGE difference between baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials and even Gen Z. You can go even deeper and realize that every single person will have a different attitude to “being tracked across the internet” but who has capacity to create marketing journeys on a one by one basis. Truly?
The Subtle Art of Personalization
I understand why brands perceive that better sales come from more customer data. More data provides in turn better and more timely messaging which can compel customers to buy more product.
But have you ever stopped and thought about personalization from a customer perspective? I find sometimes we (marketers) forget to look at our jobs through the lens of us – the customer. I detest the monitoring part of my internet activity. While I rationally understand the need of Facebook “selling my data” to vendors to keep my Facebook profile free of charge, it is not the same as being happy about Gmail ads in my inbox based on my last search engine query or email exchange with my mother. Oh yeah, that happened.
There are also many varieties of personalization. Some more subtle than others. Blatant out-right tracking of the words used in an email to surface brand ads is much more off-putting, than a company seeing what actions I have taken on their website, before offering me a free-trial or download of an e-book, etc. Knowing how far you have already ventured in your purchase consideration before offering up the next step in your “education” is not equal to promoting weight loss products just because you told your mom you gained 5lbs during exam season in school.
Doing It Right
So where do we find a good middle ground? One that works for customers and companies alike.
Well, I recently came across this personalized email by Cubcoats that I felt is worth sharing as an excellent example of how to do it right. If you are unfamiliar with Cubcoats, it’s totally ok. I came across one of their social media ad on Facebook or Instagram (great targeting BTW), and with 4 nieces and nephews under the age of 13 it was a total hit for Christmas. Cubcoats in fact creates cuddly stuffed animal looking toys, that once turned inside out, reveal to be jackets for children. I went ahead and ordered one for my 1-year old nephew. Once the order was complete, I got a confirmation email.
See below, it’s worth watching.
As I professed earlier on, I don’t like personalized emails because it makes me feel observed and tracked. But the fact is, Cubcoats sent me a confirmation email of my order, that was personalized and I loved it. Why? Well, for a few reasons.
1) I already completed my purchase, so them using my First Name and City location (as per shipping address) was much more acceptable as I have already given that willingly to the company.
2) The humor embedded in the confirmation email, made it much more digestible and amiable. And,
3) My information was not used to push and peddle aggressively more content, more product or sales. It was used to say thank you and to show me I am a valued customer. It created a bond between my (the customer) and the brand (Cubcoats).
The true stroke of genius is by Cubcoats turning a “necessary” email into something useful for the marketing department beyond the regular “Your Shipment is on the Way”. They did not pester me with more sales and “come back, we miss you” messages. They created a bond between their customer (me) and their brand during an interaction that is necessary and expected by both parties. Way to go on making something work for you on multiple levels.
I may never buy another jacket from them, because truly, how many stuffed toy – jackets can you need? But you can count on it that I already looked at their website repeatedly for my friends’ children and new-borns and it even made me write this blog. I like them, I love their product (once I got it, I tested it for its quality) and I will for sure write some reviews.
So maybe the personalization of this email won’t lead to me spending thousands of dollars with them, but it sure has created a fan-girl, one that will give high reviews and recommend it to others. In other words, I became their brand advocate, just because of one email (well and a quality and unique product).
How much does it cost you to turn your customers into advocates? Studies show that the average advocate for a brand cost roughly between $11,000 per year all the way up to $500,000.
Technology Is Not Enough
There are ample solutions that provide personalized marketing materials and can cost thousands of dollars. But do you really need them? Most email and marketing automation platforms provide the most basic personalization abilities for free with your standard package. Using names, city or even state locations, date of births etc. Start small, check with your stakeholders and don’t over-do it. You will get as many answers to the question “shall I personalize my content?” as you will ask, but starting small and asking your target audience, has never mislead anyone.
Using more technology and spending more money is not the solution to sustainable sales growth and increased customer engagement. Take a leaf out of Cubcoats marketing booklet and do something small today, something that will delight your customer base.
To you Jessica and the team at @Cubcoats – thanks for delivering my nephew an awesome jacket and toy for Christmas and for the email you sent me that gave me a reason to crack a smile in the Xmas shopping madness and great fodder for this blog. All the best to you all at CubCoats. Wishing you a successful 2019!