How to break through the buzzwords and use personalization to build real customer relationships

06 Feb 2017 | By Tobias Arns

In today’s marketing landscape, buzzwords are running wild. Ask most organizations about their marketing strategy, and you’ll hear an answer filled with them – personalization, recommended content, customer engagement, A/B testing – but if you dig deeper, you notice that they're lacking specific details around what these words really mean and how related strategies can be created and executed. 

Let’s talk about one of the buzziest words right now: personalization. What does that really mean? How do you create a strategy around it and build lasting consumer relationships? By moving thoughtfully and slowly to meet customers on their preferred terms. What do I mean? Let me break it down with an analogy the majority of people will understand: the evolution of dating to marriage. You wouldn’t go on a blind date and propose marriage before the end of dinner. Smart marketers operate with the same mindset: they take the time to learn users’ preferences, habits and interests, and then they use that data to get to know and court audiences before making a serious move. (Think about how “offers” are made to most people in today’s world… straight to proposal (Enter your credit card).)

Next time your brand embarks on a new relationship with a prospect or customer, the below three tips can help remind you to avoid empty buzzwords and deliver valuable action.

1. Personalization is different for every person.

It sounds simple, but in the marketing world, it bears repeating. The entry point into a brand relationship is different for every individual. Someone might find your company though a recent LinkedIn article or mention in a piece of media coverage. Rather than trying to force prospects into a specific point at the top of your funnel, be open to welcoming their presence, no matter where it’s coming from. Users’ first impressions of your brand should be that you understand their pain points, are willing to build an environment in which you’ll solve them, and will offer rich, data-driven content to back up your claims.

2. Trust is the key to any successful relationship.

Remember that blind date? While a marriage proposal would probably send an unsuspecting person running, if you take a slow-moving approach to forming a relationship beyond the date, you’d join the ranks of many lasting couples that met through an initially blind setup. Take the same caution and care as you get to know a new prospect or customer. Set expectations early, get to know one another, and build a foundation of friendship and trust before things get serious.

3. Set and stick to reasonable goals.

If you can talk a big game about marketing trends and conversion tactics, but you can’t back it up with results, your prospects will quickly see through your approach. Use common sense as you lay out goals for a marketing strategy. For example, if you’re planning to use personalization to tailor your customer outreach, metrics like the amount of time people spend on your website, clicks driven to certain pages and pieces of content, and videos watched (instead of skipped) are great places to start tracking progress. Building a simple matrix to measure these statistics over time can help get your entire organization aligned to support personalization success.

Today, everything from media reporting to corporate communications has adopted a personalized tone. Whether this is the result of a culture that enjoys instant gratification or the deep, individualized relationships the digital age has possible, your prospects and customers are no longer willing to settle for bland, generic outreach. By putting the above tips into practice, you’ll be prepared to meet your audience on their grounds – and use the real language, rather than the buzzwords, they want to hear.