4 Facts for Marketers About Personalization

By Heike Young

The broader the message, the broader the appeal, right? Not anymore.

Personalization is critical to modern marketing — whether that’s a retailer’s shopping cart or a financial services portfolio. For Chris Howard, VP of Digital Strategy and Design at Calamos Investments, increased personalization is linked directly with more successful marketing campaigns.

On this week’s episode of the Marketing Cloudcast — the marketing podcast from Salesforce — we interview Chris to discover which data types are most critical for personalized marketing, the relevance of email, and the importance of listening to your audience.

Calamos Investments is a global investment manager committed to providing clients with innovative strategies that help them reach their financial goals.

As VP of Digital Strategy and Design, Chris faces the challenge of making sure Calamos’s marketing stands out in the extremely competitive landscape of financial advisors. No easy feat, but Chris has learned to leverage audience preferences to better target advisors with the right content.

He explains, “Casting that wide net was wrong for us. The more that we can personalize, the more specific we can get with our message, the better our results.”

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From our conversation with Chris, here are four important facts that marketers need to know about personalization in their marketing messages.

1. Using data shows you’re really listening.

“If we know what topics, mediums, or content one of our advisors likes, we need to do everything we can to share that with them and let them know we are listening,” says Chris.

Marketer have endless ways to collect and track all kinds of cool data: data on customers, clicks, time spent on web pages, how many emails were opened, and beyond. But as Chris wisely points out in the podcast, what’s the point of having all these metrics if we don’t use them properly to support our customers?

Chris says marketers must be in the business of doing more than just having data. It’s about applying what you’ve learned to show that you’re paying attention and responding to your audience.

2. Personalization is not a nice to have; it’s a necessity.

As Chris puts it, personalization is now a necessity for marketing campaigns, not a “nice to have” or an afterthought.

Marketers can’t talk about personalization enough. Calamos might be speaking about numbers in its content, but the firm is not speaking to numbers; it’s speaking to people. Each advisor on the Calamos roster has different interests and specialties, and when when each advisor receives content catered to those interests, it yields higher engagement and satisfaction.

Increasingly, advanced personalization is being expected, even if your company isn’t Netflix. As Chris puts it, “In three to five years, personalization digitally is going to be standard.” Now’s the time to begin giving customers what they really want.

3. Digital personalization is replacing some face-to-face interactions.

Chris shares, “If you look at the industry data, we’re seeing fewer and fewer actual meetings being held.

Maybe your industry is experiencing a trend similar to what Calamos is experiencing in financial services. Frequently, face-to-face time in office settings is dwindling. Fewer people are knocking on doors or setting up lunches.

We’re communicating differently, and getting the attention of customers and prospects is different, too. What’s the main communication channel for Calamos? Chris says, “Email marketing is a, if not the, key medium for us.” Customize emails with topics your prospects care about. Find the ways your audience prefers to communicate digitally. You might not meet them face to face to learn otherwise.

4. Learn from imperfect personalization, and keep going.

According to Chris, “There’s no [marketer] out there that has it all. No one is doing everything right. In this world, we don’t have all the answers, and my answers might not work for you. Trial and error. It’s a learning process.”

You won’t nail personalization right off the bat. You’ll likely have to start small with a few personas, and go from there toward more advanced segmentation — and ultimately 1-to-1 — techniques.

Chris says it’s important to stay positive, keep track of your results, and, most importantly, keep going and learning more about your customers. Chris stresses that the best marketers can do is to “make imperfect decisions based on imperfect data, learn from it, and keep going.”

And that’s just scratching the surface of our conversation with Chris Howard. No matter how sophisticated your personalization strategies are today, you’ll learn more and receive some takeaways to use in your next campaign in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast.

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Originally published at www.salesforce.com.