At one point in time, all marketing was personal. The bank teller knew your name, the door-to-door salesman knocked on your door, and the car dealer knew what you liked in a car because he lived a single block away. That time, however, is now long gone.

The advent of websites and email led to mass-marketing techniques that could reach many people in a short period of time, but at the expense of personalization. However, companies today understand that personalization in marketing remains important. After all, people like to feel like a product or service message is tailored specifically for them.

So how can a company develop personalized programs while still driving ROI? Are there any secret weapons? I wanted to know the answer, so I asked a panel of experienced digital marketers, CMOs, and agency creatives to share their thoughts on a Currnt KnowledgeStream. The following are some of the key takeaways.

Understand Your Audience

Knowing your audience and how they behave in a variety of situations will lead to better and more personalized experiences. Alex Doward said that a good way to understand your audience is to come up with personas, or the types of people that consume your content. Then, define how that content will be different based on those personas.

For example, people visiting your website using their desktop computer might be better served with a different form of content than people visiting your website on their mobile, because you’ve identified that the people visiting your site on their mobile are a different kind of people. They’re more suited to a different kind of content than the ones visiting your site using their desktop computer.

It’s About Your Product

Once you’ve defined your personas and have a better understanding of your audience, it’s tempting to personalize your content everywhere. However, as mentioned by Abbas Ravat, your personalization ultimately still needs to be about your product. It needs to lead to better brand recognition, more sales, and more market share.

That’s why Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign was so successful. It turned personalization on its head. Instead of asking for people’s names in an attempt to personalize their content, Coca Cola printed a wide variety of names on their bottles. People wanted a Coke bottle with their name on it, and Coke’s market share increased worldwide.

Don’t Over-Personalize

Closely related to the point above, marketers also need to make sure they’re not over-personalizing. Your content should not come across as creepy or smug. The customer should always have options and should definitely not feel as if they’re being watched. You might think this is easy to avoid, but it’s not. It’s a thin line that’s easy to cross.

Paul Belle Isle says that personalization should be about adding value. Use it to make a genuine connection or to make your product or service more relevant. Think of Chipotle, where you can make your own burrito just as you like it.

These were only a few of the points that the panelists made about the importance of personalization in marketing. Curious to know more? Head over to our Currnt KnowledgeStream. And feel free to give your own opinion! We have an open forum and we welcome your contributions.

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