Personalization

How to unlock 1:1 marketing

Impediments to 1:1 marketing

For years, the dream of marketers everywhere has been truly customized, relevant, one-to-one marketing. Get the right message in front of the right person at the right time. With a Customer Data Platform like Amperity, accurately segmenting audiences ever more finely is now a reality. For example, an airline can identify passengers who have flown to Denver in the past year, have over 100,000 frequent flier miles at their disposal, and do not currently have the airline’s credit card. A segment like this can be used for highly targeted offers and messaging resulting in higher conversion rates and customer satisfaction. Historically that would have required bridging across multiple operational, financial, and loyalty databases ‒ no easy task.

But this opens up a new challenge for marketers: how to manage the creative burden and execution difficulties associated with running many campaigns simultaneously, each of which targets a unique customer segment. Here are the objections we hear most often:

  • It consumes too many people hours to build and execute hundreds of campaigns in parallel.
  • It’s difficult to test, evaluate, and iterate upon hundreds of campaigns in parallel.
  • It consumers too much media budget to build creative for hundreds of campaigns in parallel.

If we’re going to realize the dream of relevant, one-to-one marketing, the industry needs to build the organizational muscle to manage multiple, smaller campaigns at the same time. How do we achieve this?

The path ahead

In my experience, the process of implementing 1:1 marketing sounds much scarier than it is. It’s an iterative journey, and marketers should start small, experiment, and above all, recalibrate not just their approach, but their measurements for success.

Balance creative perfection with timeliness and relevance

The first and most important step is for marketers to redefine their idea of incredible marketing. This involves lowering the bar for creative perfection. Yes, you heard us right. Rather than producing only high-budget SuperBowl ads that have undergone intense scrutiny, editing, and creative testing, marketers must also produce digital campaigns that are quick to develop, simple, and highly targeted. What you lose in creative perfection, you gain in timeliness and relevance ‒ factors that are no longer optional in today’s highly competitive, personalization-obsessed marketplace.

For example, I worked with an apparel company where the marketing organization had immense pride in the sheer beauty and emotional impact of their marketing messages. Each creative went through many production steps and review processes before being launched. Today, their marketing remains behind the curve in terms of personalization and their business is suffering as a result.

Instead, brands need hundreds of unique images, offers, and messaging running simultaneously. The key is agility; not everything needs to be a work of art. When designing, executing, and measuring large numbers of campaigns, the bet you’re placing is not on the brilliance of the creative, but the relevance and timeliness of the message itself. Consider two buckets of marketing that work in tandem: 1) high-profile, high-budget, emotionally connective umbrella campaigns and 2) quick-twitch, highly targeted, lightweight campaigns directed at specific segments.

Develop easy ways to tweak content, test, and iterate

A prominent credit card company and bank wrote the book on launching multiple campaigns in parallel in a lightweight, scalable way. This example describes their direct mail offers for the brand’s credit card, sent out to thousands of potential customers.

First the brand took similar creative and made slight variations to the interest rates and credit lines. They then developed a test grid of 64 combinations of these slightly different offers. Each combination had a unique code on the offer that corresponded to its cell in the test grid. The marketer would roll out the campaign slowly and monitor inbound calls to their 1-800 number in order to evaluate the performance of each cell in the grid. As they gathered enough data to recognize that a cell was underperforming, they would turn off that offer and redeploy the budget to the remaining cells in the grid.

We share this example as a best practice for testing and learning, but also as an example of how to execute multiple offers in parallel in a cost-effective way. The key was slight tweaks to the offers, while reusing the exact same creative. Check out our series “Easy Personalization Tip of the Week” for more simple ways to create targeted marketing with little effort and few creative resources.

Reuse creative whenever possible

We can learn a lot from digital remarketing campaigns, which enable quick, relevant messaging based on a user’s browsing habits. Tools like Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) substitute in various creatives targeting narrow segments of users based on their past behaviors. If you looked at a leather sofa on a furniture retailer’s website, then the ads you see in the following hours and days feature sofas. This is done by swapping in different imagery based on browsing behavior.

With 1:1 marketing, it’s the same concept. If a segment of fast-casual diners has a history of ordering BBQ ribs, then show them your ribs creative. If they order onion rings frequently, then swap in that creative. What’s required is a library of relevant imagery that can be swapped in for each segment.

The rise of the Customer Data Platform makes it easy to build unified, 360-degree views of your customers, segment them, and activate those segments via paid media, email, site personalization, in-store experiences, and more. The challenge is to change how we work in order to take advantage of that potential and get the right message in front of the right person at the right time. This change is both organizational and technical as we move from a small number of highly produced messages to a multitude of relevant, timely messages reaching specific, targeted audiences.

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