Open Enrollment | Subscribe to Target Marketing HERE
Follow us on

Database Marketing : Up Close and Personal

7 ways to make your marketing campaigns personal across all channels

February 2014 By Carolyn Goodman
Get the Flash Player to see this rotator.

In 2013, a customer-centric approach to marketing was the de-facto standard. Research has proven that the more personal, integrated, multichannel and real-time you can get, the more likely you are to motivate the target to take the desired action.

Consumers are fiercely proud of their individuality and want to be recognized as such by marketers—and they are irritated by marketing outreach that does not address their preferences or personalities. Here are seven ways you can make your campaigns more personal in every channel to achieve better marketing results and ROI:

1. Past Purchase Personalization
Leverage past purchases by making personal and relevant suggestions. Instead of creating an overarching promotion focused exclusively on price ("20% off!") or GWP ("gift with purchase where you spend $X and get Y for free"), try segmenting your past buyers into logical segments based on past purchases, and then make your message more relevant to segment. For example, if the last purchase was a pair of pants, note that in your communication, "Hope you're enjoying your [color1] [brand name] [product type]!" and offer 20 percent off a shirt, sweater or jacket to go with those pants. Or offer them another pair of those same pants in a different color at 20 percent off: "Since you recently purchased [brand name] [product type] in [color1], we thought you might want another pair in [color2], [color3] or [color 4], and save 20%!"

Acknowledging past purchase behavior and suggesting other relevant purchase ideas is one of the easiest ways to convince your customer you know them, and therefore are able to make relevant and meaningful offers to them.

2. Shopping Cart Retargeting
Abandoned shopping carts drive personal retargeting. According to the Baymard Institute, 67.89 percent of consumers abandon their shopping carts before checking out. While the reasons for abandonment are multifaceted, there are numerous ways to encourage the shopper to return and complete the sales process. The most immediate is personalized retargeting, where your ads (created on-the-fly for each consumer based on specific browsing behavior) are displayed to specific users as they browse the Internet, via various ad networks, reminding them again and again about the items they were looking at on your site.

Test different intervals to see how to best optimize retargeting—immediately vs. 12 hours, vs. 24 hours after abandonment. You can also test length of retargeting. If the shopper never comes back and the item is still in the cart, try testing 30-day, 60-day, 90-day or even 6-month intervals to see if you can remind the customer and lure the shopper back. Adding an offer to the message that's better than any offer that was on the site at the time can be extremely effective as a way to remind and reward the customer for coming back.

3. Contextual Banner Ads
Position your banner ads in context. Instead of merely purchasing banner ads on the Google ad network and hoping a site visitor sees it and clicks, contextual ad systems present banners or pop-up ads based on the keywords used in the consumers original search. For example, a user searching for "Beautiful kitchens" can create results that, when clicked, include your display ad for stainless steel kitchen appliances.

4. Segmented Email Messaging
Match email list segments to relevant messaging for higher open and clickthrough rates. Imagine for a minute that you had a brick-and-mortar store (even if you only sell online). And then imagine how you'd approach prospects when they walked through your doors. Would you show a teenager one set of products, while you'd show a different set of products to a mother with a baby? That's exactly what AAA did when they tested a new membership retention strategy.

First, AAA conducted a short survey and then segmented its targets by life-stage: families with young kids vs. families with teens vs. adults without children in the household. Families with teens got messaging that encouraged them to use their AAA cards to get discounts on music, clothes, shoes and computers. Families with younger kids got messaging focusing on discounts on car seats, trikes, photo albums and scrapbooks. Families without children discovered deals at restaurants, entertainment and home accessories. While the card provides all these benefits to all its members, segmenting your audience and then repositioning benefits in a more meaningful way to those segments will increase email open and clickthrough rates.

5. One Size Doesn't Fit All
In the B-to-B world especially, you should never be talking to your prospects or customers as if they're all the same. Segmenting by industry type is the easiest and most obvious way to create content that is most useful and relevant to your various audiences.

Start by understanding your customer base or target audience; chances are they fall into about six broad industry types (identifying segments based on your sales force alignment is another good method). Within each industry segment, create case studies and whitepapers most relevant to that industry. Create separate pages on your website dedicated to each industry type, and constantly refresh them with new and relevant content. Consider having a blog on each industry page from a different thought leader in your organization, and look for ways to help increase awareness of that blogger by encouraging speaking at industry events. The more you can build believability about the blogger's knowledge and leadership in that thought leader's particular industry, the more likely you are to build brand awareness and interest.

6. Direct Mail Still WorksIf You Divide and Conquer
Many believe direct mail is dead. But quite the opposite is true, if you can create a compelling and relevant message to your target. Not unlike email, you need to slice and dice your audience into meaningful segments, and then craft a message that's relevant to that segment.

A recent B-to-B campaign for a software company helped keep the sales staff busy with follow-up meetings as the creative and benefit message zeroed in on one industry segment only.

7. Celebrate Milestones
Acknowledge and celebrate customer milestones. The simplest way of making a customer feel good about your brand is to recognize and reward key milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries or even the date of a first purchase. Starbucks always salutes its cardholders' birthdays by adding a free beverage to their cards, while many other brands mail out postcard or email coupons with a birthday "deal." Don't have this information in your database? It's easy to get from your customers with a short questionnaire—especially if you tell them you'd like to celebrate their day with them by giving them a special offer.

No matter whether you're in B-to-B or B-to-C marketing, think about the smartest ways you can segment your customer or prospect pool, and then create messaging that's more meaningful and more relevant. You should see an improvement in results.

Carolyn Goodman is president/creative director of San Rafael, Cali.-based multichannel direct response agency Goodman Marketing Partners. She also writes The Power Punch blog. Reach her at


Companies Mentioned:



Click here to leave a comment...
Comment *
Most Recent Comments: