Every marketer knows that sometimes marketing that isn’t personalized can be annoying.
Ads for products you already purchased chase you around the internet. Commercials for dog food interrupt your video experience even though you’ve never owned a dog. Websites bombard you with invitations to join a newsletter even when you’re already on that list.
It’s irritating. And for a significant number of people, it can keep them from making a purchase or engaging with a company.
On the flip side, when personalization gets it right, it drives real business results. Just look at Amazon. 35% of the industry leader’s sales come from its personalized recommendation engine.
If you’re a marketer, you probably already know this. It’s why personalization is so top-of-mind in our industry. It’s why companies spent $10.1 billion on data activation in 2017 alone. It’s why data solutions like CDPs are the top tech being implemented by companies today.
But despite all this annoyance that unpersonalized marketing causes and despite the fact that the annoyance is costing businesses real sales, here’s something the industry isn’t talking that much about:
What about the times when it goes beyond annoyance and actually does our customers harm? Is there an even greater customer loss happening when brands botch personalization and emotionally sucker punch customers by ignoring their real-time context?
We think the answer is yes.
Demographic targeting is sloppy and emotionally high risk
So, what do we mean when we talk about doing customers harm with unpersonalized content?
We mean missing their emotional context.
For example: Let’s say you’re a retailer targeting customers based on demographics. Maybe you sell a wide range of products, including baby products. And maybe you want to target people who might be interested in said baby products.
Let’s say you’ve cast a wide net using demographics instead of behavioral data and you’re targeting married people between 24 and 40. In this demographic group, you’ll get to plenty of people who are having babies and plenty who aren’t.
So far, no problem, right? You waste a little budget targeting the wrong people, but hopefully the group also has enough of the right people to get you some business.
But here’s the thing: You’ll also probably get to people for whom babies are a difficult topic. People who’ve just discovered they can’t conceive. People who have chosen not to have children and are irritated or exhausted by the family and cultural blowback around that decision. People who’ve just miscarried or lost a child.
For every one of these audiences, a pop-up ad for baby products is more than just annoying. It triggers a deeper emotional reaction. Grief. Loss. Self-loathing. Anger.
And chances are, once you’ve surprised those customers with an emotionally charged, alienating ad, they’re navigating away from your site. And maybe they’re not coming back.
But aren’t these just edge cases?
So, you might be thinking: Well, that sucks and I’m sorry it happens, but aren’t these just edge cases? Do they really impact sales and customer loyalty on a large scale?
Well, consider that 16% of pregnancies in the US end in a miscarriage of stillbirth. About 10% of women have trouble getting or staying pregnant. And the number of people choosing a child-free life has been increasing steadily since 2008.
So how much of an edge case are these customers, really? Can you afford to drive away 16%+ of your customers?
And even if they are edge cases, is it really that much harder with today’s AI technology to target people not based on a wide demographic net but instead based on their own personal context?
Hint: The answer is no. With a CDP like Lytics, it’s not that hard anymore.
Emotionally charged topics are everywhere
It’s impossible to identify all the ways our marketing can trigger people who’ve experienced loss or trauma.
Mothers Day ads can feel like a sucker punch if you’ve lost your mom or never had a good one to begin with. Weight loss ads can do real damage to people who struggle with eating disorders. And someone in the midst of a difficult break-up is going to feel pretty negatively about your engagement ring ads.
10 years ago—even 5 years ago, really—there probably wasn’t that much we could do about this problem. Demographics were what we marketers had to work with. They were a practical way of segmenting customers and trying to personalize offers to them.
But today we don’t have to settle for the spray and pray approach that demographics represents. Today we don’t have to send a grieving couple an ad for strollers.
Today, we can track people’s behavior on our sites and personalize marketing to what they’re reading, buying, and responding to in real time.
Through data science and machine learning in a CDP.
True personalization drives connection
With a CDP like Lytics with built-in data science and machine learning capabilities, you don’t have to rely on general demographics to target customers likely to buy. Instead, you can use their behavior and interests to reach the right people with the right messages at the right time.
In our example above, we were promoting baby products as a large retailer. Using demographics, we’d probably reach lots of couples who don’t have kids as well as those who don’t want kids, can’t have kids, or just sustained a loss. We’d cast too wide a net and end up driving away future business because of it.
So, what if we targeted people based on their behavior instead? What if we sent baby product offers to users who had read at least three new baby articles in the last week? What if we advertised to people who’d recently or regularly made a baby-related purchase? What if we suggested baby-related articles to people who had recently shared a baby-related article from our site?
Chances are, we’d drastically reduce the number of people we annoyed, upset, or even devastated. Not to mention that pretty much every other marketing metric—from number of purchases to purchase amount to customer loyalty—improves with this kind of personalization.
Emotional connections drive brand loyalty
Need more reasons to prioritize the emotional impact your marketing has on customers?
One 2016 study found that customers who associated a brand with positive emotional experiences were 7 times more likely to purchase and 15 times more likely to recommend the company.
Other research suggests that the emotional reaction to an ad determines buying behavior more than the information within it.
And still other research backs those findings up, showing that ads that performed better emotionally according to neuroscience saw a 23% increase in sales.
The truth is that the answer to driving more sales, higher cart amounts, more repeat business, and more impulse purchases is the same as the answer to treating customers with more emotional nuance.
And that answer is true 1:1 personalization that communicates with customers based on their current, real-time context and needs.
Personalize your marketing with Lytics
Interested in how Lytics can help you avoid these emotional land mines and drive real business results and deeper customer loyalty? We’d love to show you. Contact us today to set up a demo or a chat.