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Episode 5: Why Marketing Needs to Stop Ignoring Personalization

People aren’t static. They access your content from multiple devices on a number of different channels. And as their experience with your company grows, their needs and interests change. Yet most marketing still treats all these different customers exactly the same. 

Personalization helps contextualize your marketing for customers and potential customers. It helps people feel like your outreach is more personal and ultimately creates a more natural connection.


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Episode Transcription

Hi. I’m Anni Kim from HubSpot, and this is Skill Up, the show where you’ll learn how to take your sales, marketing, and service skills to the next level.

People aren’t static. They access your content from multiple devices. They come at it from a number of different channels. And, perhaps most importantly, as their experience with your company grows, their needs and interests change.  

But I’ll go ahead and let you in on a little secret. Come closer. Little closer. That’s good, little too close. Most marketing still treats all these different customers exactly the same.

Most marketing ignores, or, benefit of the doubt, is agnostic of personalization.

Ok, so what does personalization mean when we’re talkin’ about contextual marketing? 

Contextual marketing is personalized marketing based on the context of who a visitor is and what they're looking for. It's a way to reach large targeted groups of people that have something in common, such as their lifecycle stage.

Personalization is a tool you can use in your contextual marketing strategy to focus on an individual. You'll be able to provide even more value to your users by communicating directly to them using their personal details.

Personalization’s not exactly the Tesla Cybertruck. It’s nothing new at this point. If you’ve ever worked in retail, you’re nodding your head in a way only someone who’s done seven straight hours... of Sis-i-fis-ian levels of recovery.. during the holiday season.. could.

But personalization’s gaining more and more ground in the digital space as well.

Companies are providing personalized product recommendations tailored to the individual. There’s mobile apps, for instance, that help you find the right paint color for your walls, or virtually try on clothing, makeup, and eyeglasses. 

The reason? Deep down, you already know. It’s... data. Forty-percent of consumers buy more from companies that personalize the shopping experience across channels.

And personal recommendations are extremely effective. A Nielsen study showed that 84% of the time, a person will take action based on personal recommendations. On the other hand, neglecting personalization can have negative effects on your business. 41% of consumers switched companies due to poor personalization.

So, the evidence is clear. Personalization matters. It should be a tool that you use in your contextual marketing strategy. And you can create personalized experiences for your visitors by using things like personalization tokens.. in emails, website pages, and landing pages. These tokens correspond to data stored in your CRM.

But overall, there’s essentially four categories for personalization -- Contact properties, company properties, location properties, and contact owner properties. You guessed it, let’s dig into these a bit further.

Contact properties contain tokens like a person's first name, last name, email address, and so on. 

Company properties have the company’s industry name, size, and other details.

Office location properties have tokens such as city, state, and postal code. 

And finally, you can use contact owner properties like name, email, address and signature. These correspond to the contact owner at your company and are particularly useful for sending personalized emails. 

You want to explore all the possibilities in your own contact properties.

All this information is collected by the forms on your website. So.. let’s talk examples -- the hypothetical worlds where Shia LaBoeuf racks up those Academy Awards he deserves, and dogs are made even cuter.. by balding.. in their old age -- so, examples.

Let’s say, you want to use a postal code personalization token. Your Tommy Tutone, zipcode means a lot to you. But you find that most of your contacts don't have a postal code associated with them in your CRM.

So you'll need to add a field for postal code to your forms postal code field to your forms -- where it's most appropriate. Once you collect that data, you can then use it to personalize your content. 

There you have it. You're now one step closer to making your customer experiences more human and personal.

With these best practices, you can create amazing personalized experiences for your contacts and customers. 

Wait, you didn’t think we were done, did you? I didn’t go and dub this season Advanced Marketing for the fun of it. We’re only halfway there.

When you’re setting up your contextual marketing strategy, there’s four ways to personalize your approach and stand shoulders above the rest of the competition -- trust me, the view’s nice up there. You can...

Evaluate your contact database or CRM, 

Set default values for personalization tokens, 

Determine personalization purpose, 

And avoid using sensitive information. 

So first up, evaluate your contact database or CRM.

You’ll want to make sure you have all the right data you need for personalization. 

Ask yourself -- Is the information up to date? Do you have enough information? Do you have false information? For example, if someone submitted a form on your website and put their name only as the letter L, then a personalization token won't add value for this user.

So take the time to evaluate what data you have about your contact.

Next, be sure to set default values for all personalization tokens. Let's say you're sending an email to one of your contacts, say, Cameron Diaz. Where ya been, how’s the baby? You know, friendly stuff. You’ll want to use a personalization token for first name. 

That way, the email opens with “Hello Cameron” because.. she’s Cameron Diaz, she did Charlie's Angles AND Something About Mary, she’s the 90’s com-scene QUEEN, she deserves it, alright!?... 

Ok, great! The contact’s name is saved in your CRM, so easy enough to pull from and make that email personal.

But what about contacts that don't have a first name stored in your database? In this case, you could set a default value so any contacts that don't have a first name would only see “Hello” in their email. No awkward single letter or weird extra space of no copy.

Third, determine the personalization purpose. 

Look, you don't wanna use a personalization token just for the sake of using a personalization token. The purpose behind using personalization typically falls into one of two categories -- to drive engagement or to communicate specifics to the individual. 

A well-placed personalization token can easily solidify a connection between your company and an individual. But it can also communicate specifics to that individual. 

For example, an art museum could display an individual's membership number on the homepage. A travel company could recommend an offer that helps you get ready for your next trip. Whether you're driving engagement or communicating specifics, a person will naturally feel that the message is speaking directly to them. And that’s the important part here.

Which takes us, finally, to... “avoid using sensitive information.” 

Like, I know, I shouldn’t have to say it, and you’re an inbound marketer, you already know not to do this type of stuff, but maybe, just maybe, it’s a blindspot, or something you’re too close to see. So just in case, it bears repeating.

[Deep breath, off-mic] Can I give an example? Yeah, I mean I cannnnn… 

Ok fine. You might know an individual's revenue. Not entirely outside the realm of possibility for a lot of industries and use cases. Does that mean you should display someone’s revenue with a personalization token?  

I can tell you right now, good chance that person will feel pret-ty uncomfortable seeing their sensitive information show up where they’re not explicitly looking for it.

So call it a News Years Resolution, call it a fight against being creepy, call it whatever you need to... Stop doing the thing. I’ll thank you now, but really, it’s your customers that’ll thank you most.

Wow. What a final word. I almost wanna leave it at that, right? [aspirational] “It’s your customers that’ll thank you most.”

But, you, me, we deserve a summary. We worked hard this episode. 

Personalization helps contextualize your marketing for customers and potential customers. And helps people feel like your outreach is more personal and ultimately creates a more natural connection.

And there’s some best practices you can keep in mind when you’re setting up your personalization strategy, like 

Evaluating your contact database

Setting default values for all personalization tokens

Determining the personalization purpose 

And avoiding the use of sensitive information.

Next week, we get into even more customer experience by talking about Customer Marketing. So, hey, I’ll see you there!