Why Both Data & Relationships are Essential to Personalized Marketing

Customer Marketing


As the importance of customer retention and customer lifetime value (LTV) become more popular in the world of marketing and sales, personalized marketing is also popping up in more and more marketing team discussions. Today’s advanced marketers are touting the benefits of personalized marketing campaigns, which range from landing page headlines that adapt to the copy on the ads that were clicked, to email newsletters tailored to a specific segment of subscribers. The desired result of running these campaigns? Usually, it’s some variation of conversions, more conversions, and more efficient conversions.

Personalized Marketing Works

Starbucks’ mobile app is a master-class in personalized marketing, based on gamifying their rewards system. It’s simple, but it works. Customers can customize and order drinks on the app, which uses information like purchase history and geolocation to make the experience unique to each person. The more they buy and use the app, the more stars they earn—which go toward free drinks.

As trivial as buzzwords like “gamification” may seem, the results they achieve are anything but. This Starbucks Rewards program has set new records in revenue, and in its early stages, the app was already generating around 6 million sales a month, or about 22% of all U.S. sales.

How about another example?

For their 20th anniversary, Easyjet launched an email campaign that took all the information they had on customers to create travel stories. They based the stories on each customer’s previous flights with Easyjet. They got creative too, including not only photos of their customers’ record of flight destinations, but also a fun reminder of the number of times they had a window seat, their first trip with Easyjet (building that brand loyalty), recommendations of where to fly next (with their airline, of course), and more.

How did this perform? Open rates were over 100% higher than their average newsletter, with 25% higher click-through rates.

Why Do Consumers Respond Well to Personalized Marketing?

We build relationships in our personal lives in large part by remembering information about other people—and using it in positive ways. Birthdays. Anniversaries. First dates. Favorite foods. Favorite sports teams. Telling someone that we remember details about them is probably the most common way of showing that we care. And that improves relationships. The caveat: having the data is not enough. You have to use it to build the relationship too. It’s the same in marketing.

Starbucks’ mobile app is successful because it uses its repository of customers’ buying habits to remind them that they might want to have their usual venti sugar-free caramel macchiato (iced) today, or just to wish them a happy birthday and offer a free drink.

Easyjet’s campaign worked because the team had rich data on their customers’ past Easyjet flights, which they used to remind customers of these happy experiences.

How to Build Relationships That Make It Easier to Personalize Marketing

Marketing and sales are just beginning to enter the Relationship Era, though relationships have been around since, well, forever. And much like humans in real life, businesses tend to want information without putting in the effort to build the relationships. Relationships take work.

Many marketing articles tend to throw around phrases like “Keep it real,” “Be authentic,” “Transparency is key”—but what do these mean? The actual work of nurturing relationships often gets swept under the rug in favor of these pithy, but meaningless, “tips.” Big campaigns are important, but so are the everyday interactions with prospects and customers. Every email, tweet, and phone call is a building block of the relationship—not just touchpoints or opportunities for driving engagement.

Because how can you “keep it real” if you don’t have a real relationship with that person? Whether a personalized marketing campaign means creating effective email segments or a direct mail piece tailored to that specific household, at the heart of each one is a relationship.

Here are a few ways to make the relationship-building process easier:

1. Make Sure Your Customer and Prospect Information is Organized and Easily Searchable

Post-its and notepads aren’t going to cut it. If you’re spending a disproportionate amount of time entering, organizing, and finding data, you probably have enough of it to look into a proper CRM tool. The goal here is to minimize your time doing these low-value tasks (and ultimately to make your life easier).

2. Log Every Interaction

Live chats, emails, phone calls, and tweets are where you’ll tend to find unique—and useful—nuggets of information about your audience. Your knowledge about seemingly random things like their love of donuts or favorite sports teams just might come in handy later on. A surprise box of donuts as a thank-you for a referral? Free tickets to a basketball game to reward a customer for five years of loyalty?

All of this helps build a relationship they’ll never forget—but only if you’ve logged that information first.

3. Align the Team

There are few things more embarrassing than having an awesome conversation with a customer or prospect only to have someone else on the team ask the same question later because they didn’t know that it’s already been answered.

It can make your brand look disorganized or just scattered.  While it won’t wreck a relationship, it can still raise some eyebrows or be a roadblock. Use the right collaboration tool or app to get everyone on the same page.

4. Analyze, Report, Improve

Of course, you want this to work. And the only way to know is to look at the results. Ideally, you’d have a tool that updates your numbers automatically and shows you dashboards and charts.

Bonus if it integrates with other apps that you already use. This could save you hours if the data is already linked between them without you having to manually do anything.

Building meaningful customer relationships are, like many things, simple but not easy. But this is the most genuine (and probably the best) way to personalize your marketing if you want to maintain your brand’s authenticity and “human-ness.”

Feel like it’s time for your team to try their hand at more personalized marketing? You’ve already got the building blocks you need to get started. Make sure you have the data, get everyone on the right tools, and start building those relationships!