The popularity of social platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have changed how consumers expect companies to engage with them. Today’s marketers must go beyond personalization and deliver individualized marketing to the consumer's current needs.
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(Podcast Transcription )
Allen: Hey, to all the data driven marketers out there looking for new ways to reach unique prospects and better engage audiences. This is the fifth podcast for the 2 Guys and Some Data series, available on iTunes and SoundCloud, giving you the nitty gritty advice you need to actually make more money. I'm Allen Abbott.
Larry: And I'm Larry Kavanagh.
Allen: And today we're talking about the difference between personalized and individualized marketing tactics. Before you say, "That's not for me," hear us out. There are some good reasons why personalization isn't enough to connect with today's consumers and we want to fill you in.
So, Larry, what's the difference between personalization and individualization? Aren't they interchangeable?
Larry: Heck no. Personalized marketing is really a mass marketing technique that's intended to look like a company knows a consumer when they really don't. It's very surface level. An example is when you get an email with your first name in the subject line. It doesn't take much to personalize a marketing message.
Allen: Ah, you know what? Consumers know that. According to the economist, only 14% of consumers read messages that contain their name. The use of variable data to further customize a mass email doesn't have the same impact it once did.
Why? Because personalized marketing begins, as you said, as a generic mass email or direct mail piece that has customizable fields, which are then filled in based on consumer data. The message and art work are created before a consumer acts or expresses interest and that message is created based on a how a specific audience segment has previously acted or behaved with an organization. Larry, how is individualization different then?
Larry: Well, individualized marketing is based on a consumer's current interest. What they like and dislike. It's delivered in a moment in time when it's relevant to an individual. Personalization, as we said, is a mass technique that at best focuses on audience segments. Individualization is all about understanding the consumer as a unique person. It is seeing the patterns of behaviors and unique preferences that build an individual view of this particular consumer and then delivers irrelevant message and offer it right in there "I want it" moments.
Allen: Well, that's really interesting. A few weeks ago I was researching which gym to sign up with so that I could join, go three times, and then lose interest. To my surprise, one of those gyms actually popped a display ad for me that offered an article on the importance of exercise and a healthy diet rather than a sale price for a membership. I guess individualization requires agile marketing tactics, both online and offline.
Larry: Well, agile is more often associated with digital and mobile marketing. Unfortunately, not so much with direct mail. In the old days, like five or ten years ago, direct mail programs had to be planned months in advance. It's pretty hard to hit a consumer in their "I want to have it" moment when you're creating marketing months in advance. Technology has improved and direct mail doesn't have to be used that way today. Programmatic printing allows marketers to create individualized postcards based on a consumer's current interest, which is best shown by their behavior on your website. Those postcards reach consumers within one to three days. The truth is, marketers much be agile across all channels if they want to reach modern consumers.
Allen: So Larry, we keep circling this topic of modern consumers. How are modern consumers so much different than consumers from ten or even five years ago. Why do they expect individualization?
Larry: Well, think about your Facebook page. Do you have the same content as me or everyone else? How about when you open a Twitter app on your phone? If you don't like what you see on either platform, all you have to do is unfriend or unfollow someone and your content will change. You talked about how is it different than ten or even five years ago? Facebook is 12, 13 years old. Twitter about 10 years old. They, and now Instagram, have changed the individualization expectations of today's consumers. At the same time, the way folks shop for products has also changed dramatically. Today, more than 50% of purchases begin with online research. Consumers read product reviews online, they find user manuals, they check out How-To videos on YouTube before they make a purchase. There's so much research that happens at each stage of a buyer's journey that many have already made their purchase decision before they even talk to a sales person or go into a store.
Allen: Yeah, that makes so much sense. That is where the opportunity to individualized marketing comes from. Every time a person goes online to research or find a solution, they're leaving behind data clues. This data can tell marketers not only what they're looking at, but provide insights into why they're looking at a specific product. That's powerful information for marketers to have. We talked about the data contract between marketers and consumers in our last podcast, but the short version is this: Consumers will allow marketers to access and use more personal data in exchange for an individualized experience that provides value. It is a marketer's obligation when they collect consumer data to provide an individualized marketing experience.
Larry: So, Allen, how do you put individualized marketing into action?
Allen: Well, Larry, that's a discussion for another week.
Larry: Oh man, you're such a tease.
Okay, thanks for listening to two guys ramble about data and individualized marketing for the past few minutes. If you got what you needed, you'll probably like our blog too. Check out more of our resources at Navistone.com/blog. Again, that's Navistone.com/blog. I'm Larry Kavanaugh.
Allen: And I'm Allen Abbott.
Larry: We'll be back in a few weeks to talk about how to put individualized marketing tactics into action.