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4 ways to personalise your marketing without looking like a creepy robot

Experiencing personalised marketing that’s done right feels like meeting someone at a party and instantly clicking. They just get you. Done wrong, and it’s like bumping into a stranger outside your house—a stranger that somehow knows your name. Data is deeply personal, so before you knock on the customer’s door, you best learn your manners and come bearing the right gifts.

What is personalised marketing?

A personalised marketing strategy involves collecting, analysing and using specific data to create a content experience ‘tailored’ to the individual customer e.g. providing them with shopping recommendations based on their shopping cart.

As customers grow savvier, they want to be treated like humans and want to know you understand them—what they like and when, why, where and how they like it.

The goal is to build positive, meaningful relationships with buyers every step of the way by addressing their individual interests, pain points and behaviours.

Why is personalised marketing important?

Turns out, people don’t mind sharing some things with companies if they get a little something-something in return.

A recent study revealed 36% of consumers thought brands should offer more personalisation in their marketing, with another study citing 70% of millennials are willing to let retailers track their browsing and shopping behaviours if it means a better shopping experience.

Put simply, personalised marketing is important because it allows you to:

Understand your customers better…
So that you can enhance the customer experience…
So that you can drive engagement…
So that you can secure short-term conversions and build long-term loyalty.

But how do you do it without looking like a creepy robot?

We’ve all been contacted by brands that either:

  1. Regurgitate your data back to you, making you feel unvalued
  2. Creep you out by overtly using personal details, making you feel violated

Often these reactions are the result of:

  • Bucketing customers into broad demographic segments 
  • Focussing on the buyer’s identity rather than their intent

Unfortunately, it’s easy to get wrong. With so many different techniques and tactics, who could blame you? Thankfully, there are 4 fundamental principles in personalised marketing that all strategies should follow in order to not just look personal, but feel personal.

#1 Forget the user funnel, target the user journey

There are 4 main stages of the customer journey:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Purchase
  4. Post-purchase

Dotted between each of the four stages are dozens of touchpoints (e.g. your blog, newsletter or shopping cart checkout).

These touchpoints line your road to personalisation victory.

Every customer interaction, big or small, is a golden opportunity to support your customers’ journies. To do so, it is critical to collect data at every touchpoint and to build on successive interactions with each new piece of information you get.

Think about catching up with old friends. You wouldn’t have the same conversation every time. Each time you meet, you would process your last conversation and use that information to modify, inform and enrich your next.

It should feel like that to your customers.

For example, Take an online grocery store that sends out weekly emails.
A standard email that hasn’t been personalised might include:

  • New recipes
  • Weekly specials
  • Recommendations based trends

Good quality content? Sure. Relevant? Probably not.

However, with a ‘personal touch’ the email could provide:

  • Recipes that use up potential leftovers from your previous purchases
  • Weekly specials based on repeat purchases
  • Recommendations based on preferences

Which one would you click on every week?

Rather than purely focussing on conversions and stuffing them down the funnel, your personalisation strategy’s goal should be to build a trusting relationship, guiding them at every touchpoint to help them achieve their goals.

#2 Trust in transparency

People aren’t dummies. They know all the cheap tricks if you use them and are well-versed in creepy robot voodoo.

Think about it. How do you feel when you see “Hey, {your name}!”?

Nothing. You feel nothing. And neither do your customers.

Transparency solves this.

Transparency acknowledges that you both know you have their data and that you are using it respectfully and only for (their) good.

Think about the most genuine person you know. Chances are they are:

  • Authentic and don’t pretend to be anything that they aren’t
  • Honest in motivation and action
  • Sincere with their concerns and praise

When you speak about yourself with transparency, customers might initially be baffled by your openness and honesty, but it actually makes them more willing to trust you.

A US study found that 73% of American consumers are willing to pay more for products that guarantee total transparency. (see picture below for how they defined transparency)

This chart shows how customers define transparency

How customers define transparency


Traditional businesses market to people.
Transparent businesses build relationships with them.

#3 Give before you take

If you want to get, first you must give.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t ask your customers to do things. CTAs are there for a reason. But, you should never ask people for something until you’ve provided them with a tonne of value. For example:

  • Quality resources e.g. downloadable kits 
  • Irresistible incentives e.g. referral credits
  • Emotional support e.g. Empathetic correspondence
  • Free stuff

We are driven by a customer-centric market and if they don’t receive value from you, they’ll go elsewhere.

Michael Hyatt’s 20-to-1 rule goes so far as to say you shouldn’t ask for a single thing unless you have given at least 20 things first.

That might seem excessive to you, but his point still stands. Give value before you ask people to buy, commit or share.

#4 Be human

An impersonal voice is like nails on a chalkboard to customers and a thorn in the side of businesses wanting to connect with them.

So, how do you pull it off?

It’s not easy. Actually, it can be downright tricky.

Take this article for example. It’s been given a full body copy scrub to remove as much marketing lingo as possible, and we still probably missed a few spots.

Ultimately, it comes down to talking to your customers as you would face to face.

  • Strip away the fake personalisation
  • Stay consistent in your tone and style
  • Ask questions with the sole intention of listening
  • Don’t just publish—interact!
  • Empathise
  • Use humour (if your brand can afford it)

At the end of the day, you’re dealing with people. So if you’re stuck on what to do or say 1) reread this article and 2) remember that you’re a customer to somebody too. How would you like to be taken care of?

Could your business do with a personal touch? Let’s get personal :) …actually, no—let’s talk business.




By Circul8

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