The recent revelation that Facebook collects user-behavior online is a fact many of us have taken for granted. The industry’s justification is that when they know who you are, they can customize your advertising. A brand’s ability to speak to individuals through cookies or anonymous ID’s has enabled marketers to conduct more relevant and meaningful conversations that lead to sales.
A bigger problem than misplacing “individual identities,” is one less-pronounced in the most recent concerns. Most marketers have not been using this capability with the relevance or meaning they’ve justified. In fact, in an age where the pair of shoes you browsed online chases you through the digital aisles, some advertisers are downright abusing that cliché of “the right message at the right time.”
Here are four steps to personalize your digital exchange to be more productive … and much less painful:
1. Think of each campaign as pieces of a conversation.
The biggest mistake in bad digital marketing is treating it like one size fits all. It’s perfectly appropriate to show a prospective customer what they have demonstrated interest in. But rather than looking at the message as a stand-alone unit, consider how it might look different for the person who comes right back to the site versus the one who isn’t seen there again for a few days. If it’s been a while, a coupon or other incentive may be what brings them back. If they seem to be coming to your site with some frequency, assume their intent to purchase is higher and figure out what’s needed to close the deal. Online advertising done well is literally reflective of an audience-based decisioning tree.
2. Don’t ignore context.
We receive messages on our work computers, home laptops, tablets and smartphones. Sometimes we’re tuning-in during a commute, other times we’re scrolling through a newsfeed on the couch. Good advertising considers the aperture where the message is going to appear, but better advertising uses that context to maximize the content and its exposure.
3. Start with the audience segment.
Most marketers have spent a ton of money profiling their customer and countless hours analyzing reams of CRM and transactional data to determine who buys what. Use the differences in those profiles to tailor the messaging. New prospects should have a uniquely different experience with your brand than your best customers and everyone in between. Two people might be looking at the exact same car, with the mother interested in safety features while the single male is attracted to performance bells and whistles. Personalization takes into account the priorities and preferences associated with what you are selling. The more relevant a message is in a consumer’s daily life, the more effective it will be.
4. Consider it a composition.
Marketing is an orchestra with different instruments performing different things. People are even more complicated with changing attitudes and behaviors based on “the previous notes they may have heard.” Now that personalized creative has converged with performance media, it is possible to measure which pieces of an ad are the most effective. Each part of the whole does not act independently, and the secret to personalization is strategically bringing everything together under the same business objective.
Facebook has done us a favor by again reminding consumers and marketers that data is very personal. Now it’s time for the brands who benefit from it to do so with integrity, understanding that personal information should better inform every intersection with customers and prospects.