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Uncovering Important Insights for Personalization

Personalizing marketing messages can be a very effective strategy for many companies to create a unique experience, connect with their prospects, and increase conversions.

Personalization goes way beyond, “Dear {first name},” in your email send. Justin Gray, founder and CEO of LeadMD, says in an Inc. article, “Personalization means using data to learn their habits, and asking questions to learn even more in order to add value to an experience.”

However, there is one key element that you need in order to personalize any marketing message: Data.

Without data, your personalization campaigns will likely be an epic failure. Let’s take a look at what it takes to uncover key insights that actually matter that you can use to personalize, along with some rockin’ personalization examples.

1. Identify what data you want to collect.

In order to create a really powerful personalization strategy, you first need to identify what data you want to collect. For example, are you wanting to send out an email and segment by number of employees, but aren’t yet collecting number of employees data yet?

A quick tip to see what data you’re starting with is to export your database from your marketing automation platform or CRM and run some pivot tables. Here are some easy instructions on how to create a pivot table. From the pivot tables, you can see all of the available fields you can currently use to personalize with, along with the count and percentage (of total database) that has this field populated (or not).

I recommend doing a gap analysis as it pertains to your personalization strategy. For example:

  • What types of personalization do you want to do but aren’t yet collecting data on?
  • Which fields would need to be added to your forms or database and somehow populated to make your personalization come to life?

Make a list of what data you want to collect and create the new field, if necessary, in your CRM or marketing automation platform.

2. Populate and normalize the data.

If you’re not yet collecting a key insight, or if a chunk of your database is missing information in that field, it’s time to populate and normalize that data. Normalization could include things like Job Title. Let’s say you’re currently collecting Job Title in an open text string. Instead, use Job Role with a pick list. Or, let’s say you have some old legacy values for Industry in your database; run some batch campaigns to normalize the industry values with your updated industry pick list.

There are many ways to go about collecting and populating data, and the method you choose may depend on the insights you’re trying to gain. Some methods include:

  • Data append vendors, like ZoomInfo, are a great starting point to populate missing insights
  • Add new fields to your web forms, or at least through progressive profiling, to start populating over time
  • Collect data through interactive content vendors, like SnapApp, through interactive polls, surveys, assessments, etc.
  • Research can be a simple, yet powerful way to capture some cool information to personalize with:
    • LinkedIn: Look at employee profile information, job changes, company announcements (like acquisitions), job titles, status updates, mutual connections, profile similarities (e.g. sales person and prospect both grew up in Michigan)
    • Press releases: Look for major company changes, new leadership, company acquisitions, new products & services announcements
    • Company in the news (especially beneficial if you’re using an Account-Based Marketing approach!)

3. Personalize, personalize, personalize.

Now comes the really fun part! It’s time to personalize your marketing messages. To get your creative juices flowing, here are some attributes you could personalize your messages on:

  • Behavioral-based: Sending personalized, automated emails based on recent behavioral activity, such as recently attending a webinar, abandoning a cart, visiting particular webpages (especially high-value ones, such as a pricing page), downloading a piece of content, or attending a recent tradeshow.
  • Time zone: Marketo recently released a new feature of being able to send email blasts to the recipient based on their local time zone. This is a simple, yet effective way to personalize and increase open rates.
  • Demographics / Firmographics:
    • Language
    • Geography
    • Industry
    • Job Role
    • Company size
    • Gender (more for B2C)
    • Buyer persona
  • Company sales rep/support contact: Personalize your emails with the prospect’s local sales rep, or customer’s support rep in the signature of the email.

I’ve seen some pretty cool (and pretty scary!) personalization campaigns in my day. Here at LeadMD, we personalize across many of our marketing channels, not just email. Here are some ideas to take your personalization up a notch:

  • Sales presentations: LeadMD collects benchmark data from our potential clients and will customize our sales .presentations for each prospect. Who wants to see a cookie-cutter sales deck, anyways?
  • Direct Mail:
    • Unicorn Kit: New clients get what we call a “unicorn kit” that has a personalized letter for the client inside as well as other fun, unicorn themed items.
    • Hand-written notes with a relevant gift card. For example, we recently had a client launch a brand new website (and if you’ve done that before, you know what a big feat that is!). We sent them a wine gift card with a congratulatory note on their big accomplishment.
    • Baby gifts: LeadMD branded baby onesies get sent to client or prospect expectant mothers/fathers.
    • Thank you gifts: LeadMD has sent zoo memberships for clients with kids.
  • Content & Email: Monsters of Funnel (MOF) ebook. In one of our MOF campaigns, we asked what your favorite band was (because that was “on theme”) and then used it in followup email messages and even took it a step further to gift the people who signed up early a personalized rockstar avatar for download.

More ideas:

  • Retargeting: Marketo’s Ad Bridge and Terminus both do retargeting personalization.
  • Reengagement / “Back from the Dead” campaigns: Personalization is a great tool to use in reengagement campaigns. For example, if a prospect hasn’t been active in 6 months, use some personalization in your email to get them to re-engage with you.
  • Content Recommendations: Automatically suggesting similar content your prospect might be interested in is very helpful to them, plus creates a great user experience. For you, it helps the prospect stay on your site longer and engage in more content. Marketo’s ContentAI product does a good job at recommending content you might be interested in based on behavior. Using a tool like Uberflip allows the prospect to personalize their own content experience on your site and look at “like” content, too.

In summary, personalization can be an effective method to increasing engagement and conversion in your marketing campaigns, but don’t forget that data is king! You must have accurate data in order to create powerful, personalized experiences.

Share with us in the comments one of your personalization campaigns and the results! We’d love to hear.

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