Personalization For Complex Customers

Personalization is a proven way to get consumers to pay more attention to your messages. That’s why 72% of marketers say they use it in their email marketing campaigns. But, the same survey indicates that the majority of marketers aren’t getting it right.

Consumers Are Complex, Why Aren’t You?

Many marketers segment their customers using personas, which can provide a nice baseline to separate different buyers. But with many customers, one person could really have a two or three, (or four) “personas” of their own.

People have two cars, and three bikes. They plan business trips and vacations at the same time. They decorate bedrooms and living rooms with different colors and patterns. They buy glasses and contacts, jogging pants and jeans. And as they learn new things, their tastes and preferences change.



These are complex customers, and research shows that, more and more, they expect personalization that's as complex as they are.

The Case of the Multiple-Persona Consumer

You're never going to be able to know every little thing about your customers, but you can use these best practices to give yourself a leg-up, and give your customers a better experience by thinking of consumers as needing several personas at once. 

Ask your customers for more information. Much as Netflix allows consumers to create separate profiles for a single account, you can start to build different profiles for your complex customer by asking them to help you. KLM asked users to pick their five favorite destinations in an interactive sweepstakes campaign, and then used their choices for personalized follow-up campaigns. With data provided by consumers, you can start making more confident assumptions about people as you pull information into a campaign plan. 

Tag your products into groups or themes. A home décor retailer might tag products based on room, price-point, color and even season to start forming assumptions about what a customer is up to. With some good data analysis, it can become clear that someone is buying a lot of red living room items and a lot of blue bedroom items. This bit of insight can not only create relevance in your messaging, but also help to predict and recommend more enticing products for them to buy in the future. Pinterest even offers advertisers like Nordstrom a “Taste Graph” to enhance internal data with data from millions of searches and pins of products and photos.

Pay attention to overlapping cycles. Through research or using algorithms, you might be able to determine that your customers follow obvious patterns. Their business travel might be mostly domestic while their vacation travel is mostly overseas. Data mining exercises can unearth a lot of hidden information about your customers that not only increase your ability to personalize, but also help you learn more about how and when to message an entire group of your consumer base. If you don’t have the resources, remember, you can ask, and offer a discount if they give you the info. Then you can make sure you're not advertising a romantic getaway to Chicago when your customer associates that city with stressful sales meetings.

Create split campaigns for a split personality. It can be hard to predict what a customer is in the mood to look at, even if you have mined all of your data. Or, if you’re lacking data science resources, give yourself a break and ask your consumers to do a bit of the work. If you’re messaging to someone who buys casual clothes and fancy stuff — don't pick just one, give them both and let them decide. Split your templates up and pull recommendations from two different types of products that they’ve recently looked at. Use a carousel to engage them with a variety choices to see where they go next, then you can personalize your website based on their click.

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