Personalization Will Dominate Digital Marketing Trends in 2018

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

We are currently living in the “Culture of Me”. Everything we interact with from a digital perspective aims to personalize the experience between human and machine. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have literally become a household staple. Alexa is now a family member. Our refrigerator, thermostat, TV, and washing machine have silent conversations with each other.

Our cell phones deliver notifications specific to the content we’re most interested in.

Digital advertisements know our age, gender, search history, location, interests, hobbies, job titles, financial status, relationship status and more.

Netflix now has nearly the same amount of subscribers as cable subscribers.

Alexa, Siri, and Google Home are absorbing everything we ask them. They’re understanding who we are by how we interact with them and delivering personalized content based on our conversational patterns with them.

Apple Music and Spotify are creating eerily relevant personalized playlists based on our past music listening patterns.

We’ve come to expect technology to absorb, understand, interpret, and deliver a personalized experience based on our tastes and preferences. Marketers struggle with getting the attention of their target demographic in a cesspool of Internet content. Consumers are faced with so much virtual noise that it’s become increasingly challenging for brands to break through the noise and deliver their message to potential customers. It’s not good enough anymore to bid on keywords and advertise on relevant websites in your industry vertical. Consumers now expect personalized digital experiences to be delivered to them. Here is a chart published by Salesforce showing the trend:

66% of consumers say they are extremely or somewhat likely to switch brands if they feel like a person rather than a number. This research falls in line with the growing trend of younger generations valuing brands who are transparent, authentic, and personal.

Uber allows its customers to sync a Spotify playlist so they can listen to the tunes they like during their ride.

Amazon’s entire homepage is a personalized list of recommended items based on your search and purchase history.

Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, started in 2014, is one of the most successful marketing personalization campaigns of all time. A simple concept such as putting names on a coke and allowing people to purchase a personalized name has directly improved Coca-Cola’s bottom line.

Okay, I’m a marketer, what’s my first step?

Data collection is the first step, but do it in a fair, honest, and transparent way. The marriage of marketing and technology or “Mar-Tech” (ugh, this business buzz word is already annoying), is a real thing. Great marketers are really struggling today with the technical side of their industry, because data collection requires implementing code, customizing URLs, configuring analytics software, and testing, lots of testing.

If your marketing team doesn’t already have one, it needs an analytics expert. It needs a person or two or three to help successfully and ethically track your customer’s behavior on your website, apps, and any other digital properties you manage. Google helps tremendously with this if you’re already using their advertising platforms with Google Analytics.

I’ve got the tech part down, then what?

Once you have the data, it’s time for the fun part that most traditional marketers understand, creating user personals and target audiences. You know your brand best. Who is your target customer? Which customers don’t you get enough of and want more of? Once you have a segmented pool of consumers to target, you need to come up with some great promotions and tactics to capture their attention.

And don’t always resort to discounting and special offers. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Orbitz was displaying higher priced hotel rooms to Mac users over PC users. Their data collection and analysis revealed that Mac users tend to spend as much as 30% more on hotel rooms. You may be delivered higher priced items based on your laptop’s brand. Scary, isn’t it?

As digital marketers, we want our message to stand out in an increasingly larger crowd. We want to improve conversion rate, drive more leads, and increase revenue. In order to do that, the message must be personalized. Because of the rise of narcissism, instant gratification, and social media dependence, our society doesn’t ask for brands to personalize our experience, it now demands it.