Gini Dietrich

The Personalized Experience is a Marketing Trend for 2017

By: Gini Dietrich | November 9, 2016 | 

The Personalized ExperienceFour years ago (I can’t believe it’s been four years!), I wrote about my personal Starbucks experience with our barista, Dan.

There are many independent coffee shops in our neighborhood—and we frequent them for other reasons (almond croissants, mmmmm!)—but for my morning latte? It’s Starbucks every day.

It’s not because they have the best coffee. In fact, most days I grimace through the first few sips of burnt coffee grounds.

Nor is it the closest (though I get more steps if I walk down there).

We go there every day because the experience is completely personalized.

I mean, who doesn’t love to be able to go to the front of a huge line because they’ve made your drink before you even walk in?

The only disadvantage to that is if you want to try something new or if you have friends with you…but, all-in-all, I love my very personalized experience there.

Our Attitudes Toward Data Sharing are Changing

As it turns out, I’m not the only person in this world who loves a personalized experience.

We all do!

New research from the State of the Connected Customer report shows customers’ attitudes about data sharing are changing.

And it’s because we love the personalized experience.

In fact, when evaluating purchases, we tend to give almost equal weight to a company’s personalization as we do to reputation.

In the research, 58 percent said a personalized experience is very important when purchasing from a company.

Compare that to 59 percent who say the same for buying from a well-respected or well-known brand.

Think about it, from a Starbucks experience.

Because I also have a gold card (free drinks!), they know what I buy every day.

Now they can personalize their offers to me.

They’d never send me a frappucino or bulk coffee offer. They only send me latte offers.

And I’m not alone in that thinking.

Most of us are very willing to hand over information about ourselves in exchange for personalized offers or discounts.

Additionally, consumers will share personal data in exchange for product recommendations that meet their needs (52 percent) and personalized shopping experiences (53 percent).

We also increasingly expect companies to anticipate the products we need next.

Yes Starbucks, as a matter of fact, I will need more coffee drinks in two weeks when family is here for Thanksgiving.

Thank you for anticipating that need and personalizing your communications around it.

But Collecting Data is a Real Challenge for Marketers

Still, collecting and leveraging customer data to deliver a truly personalized experience poses a challenge for many marketers.

To deliver the level of personalization the connected customer expects, marketers need more intelligent technologies.

The 2016 State of Marketing research revealed that many of these technologies are underused.

For instance, 49 percent of high-performing marketing teams say they extensively use predictive intelligence.

These tools, of course, make it much easier to track the data and use the insights to create a highly personalized experience.

But what if you’re not a consumer business that has a huge budget?

That’s great!

You have a better opportunity because your data is smaller, which is easier to harness.

As well, you can create a competitive edge by doing a few things differently.

The research shows the high-performing marketing teams do the following:

  1. Their organization empowers them to buy and use the right tools.
  2. They work closely with IT to develop apps and embed personalization.
  3. They embrace data-driver decisions to quickly adapt changing needs and perceptions.

The Personalized Experience is Easier Than You Think

If I think about my own business, the second one doesn’t make a lot of sense, but we can (and do) implement the first and third.

And, trust me, we do not have a huge operating budget.

The good news—and the huge opportunity—is we can all create a personalized experience for our customers, our donors, our volunteers, our brand ambassadors, our prospects, and our other invested stakeholders.

It just takes data, some software (which can start at the low, low price of free), and an executive team (or you!) to empower you to go for it.

Because the U.S. elections were yesterday and I want to write about that tomorrow, I’ll give you some thoughts next week on software and how to build your personalized experience program.

Until then, what do you think? Is this something you want to implement for 2017?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • This is something I applied throughout my career. I always did my best to put myself in client’s shoes and understand him/her. As you said, it starts simple: We all like personalized experience. We want to know we matter to x,y,z brand, and are not just numbers on a spreadsheet.

    Of course you need technology to support your efforts as a marketer. It saves a lot of time, so you can focus on delivering personalized experiences.

    However the start can be as simple as a thank you email when your customer does not expect it.

  • paulakiger

    SOOOOO interesting. Two things: 1) I agree this is the way most things are going (technology enabling us to fine tune what we offer customers/how we customize things for them. BUT I think in having technology do that heavy lifting, SOMETIMES we lose out on random, joy-producing discoveries. My 20 year old will probably NEVER “just listen to the radio” — with Spotify and other streaming sources she can listen to precisely what she wants and/or Spotify can intelligently choose something she’s likely to enjoy because it has so much data on her listening patterns. Back in the day, when we “just had to listen to the radio,” SOMETIMES we were exposed to things we would not have intentionally chosen …. and we would have LIKED them and developed into more deeply cultured music afficionados. // 2) When I was at Disney recently, I was standing behind a parent holding a young child while watching the parade. A Disney photographer took what I could tell would be INCREDIBLE pictures of the child watching the parade. The child was unaware she was being photographed (which is what is gonna make it a great picture). BUT since the way you retrieve your pictures after a visit to Disney is via your “Magicband,” after the photographer took the pictures, she took her hand held unit and scanned the child’s Magic Band. The child didn’t even notice. Although I <3 Disney, there was something chilling in the fact that our kids get accustomed at such a YOUNG age to a) wearing a monitoring device and b) letting an adult take a reading ….. without even noticing/giving it a second thought. Here's a cool breakdown of a MagicBand that delves a bit into ALL they can measure. They can surely help provide a customized experience (especially when ALL the featured are used, which I don't think they are currently) but ….. that's a whole lot of tracking who we are/what we buy/where we go.

  • The real problem is brands have a hard time negotiating a relationship properly especially B2C and even more so when you sell through retail 3rd parties.

    It is also time consuming to negotiate with your customers properly. I was reading and thinking how when I had a lot of free cash I frequented certain stores like REI but even that word frequented was maybe 1x a month. For many stores having someone show up and buy could be just 2x a year. Where I work some people come in for dinner at least 1x a week. I think wow Valerie has 52 of 365 dinners these people eat!

    There are many ways you can personalize the experience for say your top 15-25% of customers though and very much worth the investment. Hilton does this with their Honors program.

  • Elise Perkins

    It IS easier than we think! Great post. Look, we’re all doing it now too. Online forums like these, and others, allow us to come together and find community. Tech can just help us scale it to a much larger level.

  • First of all, if your mailings (email or snail mail) don’t address the recipient by name, start here. This is easy surface level “personalization.”

    I’d be interested in playing around with website personalization. It drives me crazy when I go to a site and they tell me to sign up for their newsletter or download a report – when I already have. I think, “Don’t you know me!?” Web personalization could be a great method to help move people through the funnel.

    This is from two years ago already, but this Hubspot post has a few examples: