April 12, 2016 | Amy Abt | Marketing Director

The Power of Personalization

As much as we might like to think of ourselves as paragons of humility and altruism, at a base level, we all just want to feel special. Dale Carnegie called it back in 1936 in his groundbreaking self-help book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Eight decades later and the rise of personalization in marketing makes Carnegie’s assessment feel eerily omniscient. The fact is: we like our own names. And we like when brands like our names, too.

Although personalization has been around in marketing for some time, it was the 2013 launch of Coca-Cola’s massively successful “Share a Coke” campaign that pushed it into the mainstream spotlight. Suddenly, pictures of Coke cans with names like Kelsey, John, and Zoltar (okay, not Zoltar, but dare to dream!) plastered on the side were dominating social media feeds. “Share a Coke” reversed Coca-Cola’s declining sales, boosted its online community, and inspired a number of other brands to develop similar campaigns. From Nutella to Marmite, it seems like you can now buy products with your name on them from almost anywhere.

While those are some of the most blatant examples, personalization goes far beyond slapping a name on some packaging. Amazon has been using algorithms to personalize visitors’ shopping and viewing experiences for years. In many ways, personalization has become so ingrained in the consumer experience that most of us don’t even notice it’s there anymore. Instead younger consumers, at least, mainly notice its absence. Where Millennials tend to be cautiously accepting of personalized marketing, Gen Z more or less demands it. As digital natives who grew up with services like Hulu and Netflix, Gen Z is turning traditional marketing on its head. Rather than being creeped out by companies tracking their information and using it to create targeted online experiences, Gen Z’ers both expect and welcome it. Why sift through thousands of options to find something you might like when an algorithm could do it for you? With the rise of personalization, brands are increasingly cutting out the guesswork of traditional marketing and connecting with consumers on a more intimate level than ever before.

If you’re still hesitant to adopt personalization as a marketing strategy for your brand, consider this scenario: Jake lives in southern California but is a big fan of Minnesota-based clothing retailer, Shmayton’s. It’s December, and Jake thinks he might buy himself an early Christmas present. When he goes to the Shmayton’s website, however, the entire homepage is covered in winter gear. It’s cold in Minnesota right now, so Shmayton’s is featuring their cold-weather clothing. But Jake, sitting pretty in a balmy 75 degrees, has no need for down parkas and wool sweaters. He could poke around the website and find some lighter options, of course, but Jake’s already starting to feel guilty about spending the money and decides not to bother. This is where personalization can play a critical role in conversion. If Shmayton’s had integrated functionality into their website that tracked where visitors were viewing from and automatically displayed a different homepage based on that location, Jake just may have bought himself a new t-shirt and set of scrunchies for his man bun. A score for Shmayton’s and all manbunkind!

If used right, personalization can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool. Want to chat about how personalization might benefit your brand? Drop us a line, we’d love to share some ideas!

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