It’s no secret that ad blockers are becoming more and more prominent among Web browsers, and the impact of ad blocking isn’t always readily apparent. Websites that typically make their money through ad revenue, like news sites, may no longer be able to provide free content to its viewers. And yet, if these sites force viewers to turn their ad blockers off or pay for their content, those viewers may go elsewhere.
The real issue, though, is the inability, or outright refusal of advertisers and marketers to provide value for their audience with ads the audience actually wants to see. Bombarding consumers with banner ads at every turn is not the ideal solution to the ad blocker dilemma. Instead, utilizing data-driven individualized marketing to provide real value is the way companies can handle this considerable challenge and remain profitable.
The Value of Individualized Marketing
While many businesses claim to provide an individualized experience for their customers, very few companies actually do. The nuances of individualization are expressed through a conversation with each consumer.
Retargeting is a common marketing tactic. A person goes online, views a service or item, and a retargeted ad will pop up on other sites as the person browses the internet. The problem is that browsing for a particular item doesn’t necessarily mean that a consumer is ready to buy or that they haven’t already made a purchase of that item, maybe even from a competitor. Plus, nobody wants to be overwhelmed by ads when they’re scouring the Internet for information unrelated to something they looked for a week ago. This approach might come across to some as individualized marketing, but it’s often seen as annoying by consumers who endure this treatment from dozens of companies, which is a major reason why so many have turned to ad blocking.
Indeed, as many as 26 percent of Web users have installed ad blockers on their browsers. And when you consider what Internet users have to deal with, it’s not hard to see why they’ve made this choice. In addition to misguided attempts at personalization, Web users must also deal with pop-under ads, as well as pages that load slowly or incorrectly due to an excessive number of ads. Worse yet, some ads even redirect users to sites containing malware or inappropriate content. While websites are quick to blame the ad networks for these bad ads, they accept no blame for the fact that they’re significantly contributing to a poor consumer experience that will ultimately lead to consumers looking elsewhere.
The truth is that today’s consumer wants an individualized experience more than ever, and they’re simply not getting it. It’s a shame, too, because modern consumers have proven that they’re willing to pay more for a better and more individualized experience. There’s true value in individualization, but due to their reluctance to embrace a new method of marketing, only a small percentage of businesses have actually figured this out.
Integration Is the Key to Individualized Marketing
The secret behind data-driven individualized marketing is the unique view of each consumer and how their behavior influences their purchasing. So while you may know that an individual visited your website and looked for a particular item, that’s only one small piece of the puzzle. Dropping retargeting ads on every web page a consumer visits for the next month is the tactic most companies have thought to use in order to bring those people back. But it doesn’t work if the consumer no longer wants to make that purchase or have armed themselves with ad blockers.
The data behind the types of visits that prompt a series of banner ads is only one part of the data picture. Intent data — the series of clues left behind by a consumer that helps you understand their motivation — is the key to any marketer’s success. But it doesn’t work alone. You need demographic, transactional, social, CRM, and other data to provide the timely and effective marketing that’s necessary to see a complete picture of this consumer and then deliver individualized marketing — that isn’t intrusive or disruptive.
Of course, achieving this goal is much easier said than done. It’s one thing if you have a known customer; for example, a former customer who has signed into their account on your website. But your creation of a single customer view becomes much more difficult when you’re dealing with previously unidentified viewers. You have to find a way to identify your best consumers and the first place to look is on your company’s website. We talk about how to identify the known and unknown browsers in our eBook “Leveraging Digital Browsing Behavior to Deliver Agile, Individualized Next-Gen Marketing.”
What makes creating a single customer viewpoint harder is that consumer behavior is more fragmented than ever. The behaviors that are exhibited on your site are just a small fraction of what makes each individual consumer unique. Five different people might buy the same item from your site on the same day, but they might have completely different backgrounds and life situations. It’s up to you to fill in these gaps so that you can deliver a truly individualized experience. This means being able to identify consumers across all of their devices, their social media accounts and staying on top of where they’re at on the customer journey right now.
It’s only with this information that you can provide true individualization, which goes beyond merely knowing what people have previously purchased. To really appeal to the individual, you have to know what they want, when they want it and the mediums through which they like to receive their marketing messages. And that means collecting the right data to paint a complete picture of right now, and using your marketing to anticipate their future needs.
Individualization across All Marketing Channels
The Internet is used for gathering information and shopping by millions of people, but it’s not the be-all and end-all for every consumer. Most efforts to personalize marketing only in the digital realm aren’t utilizing current technology and tactics to their fullest advantage.
The main benefit to developing single customer views at the individual level is that it allows you to create individualized marketing across a variety of platforms. Unlike the companies that limit their efforts at personalization to only banner ads and emails, you can now take advantage of many different ways to appeal to consumers. With the right data, you can fuel your company’s creativity to generate personalized solutions in an established medium like direct mail, as well as in new and exciting mediums, such as video.
It’s important to remember that not all of your individualized marketing has to be conducted on the Internet. Direct mail pieces can, and should, be individualized based on where a person is on their buyer’s journey. The high response rate and personal connection that direct mail provides can be highly beneficial as you execute your marketing strategies based on the intent data you’ve collected. Furthermore, since so many companies think digitally, you’re competing with fewer businesses for mailbox space and for the attention of your customers, giving you the true one-on-one interaction you’ve always desired. Best of all, there’s no ad blocker preventing your desired message from going through.
Today’s marketing climate makes it easier than ever to incorporate data-driven individualized marketing into all your marketing channels. A well-executed individualized marketing campaign based on the right, relevant data and activity across all platforms can provide better results than alternative means. You’ll be able to incorporate many different avenues for individualization, all of which will enhance the customer experience and breed long-term loyalty from your audience.