This past decade, we’ve seen the rise of personalization as marketers strive to create more relevant content and target customers and prospects with greater precision. Fast forward to today and there have been some exciting new developments in this area: it turns out, by combining artificial intelligence (AI) with real-time data, we can now take email personalization to a whole new level: hyper-personalization.
Where personalization can improve email communication based on a customer’s name, gender or location, hyper-personalization can incorporate a customer’s purchasing history, browsing behavior, abandoned carts and other real-time data from multiple touch points to optimize messages for improved results.
A new report by Ascend2 provides more insight into the benefits of hyper-personalization. My top takeaways for email marketers include:
- We’re early in the game: With the AI technologies involved, use of hyper-personalization is still in its infancy. According to the report, most marketers (62%) are either just talking about hyper-personalization or haven’t done anything about it yet. In fact, only 9% of marketers have completed the development of a hyper-personalization strategy.
- Various benefits: Marketers are still getting their heads around how they want to benefit from hyper-personalization: 60% say their top priority for hyper-personalization is to improve customer experience, while 51% say applying data insights to decision making is important. Other applications for hyper-personalization include better understanding customers (41%), improving content performance (37%), gaining competitive advantage (32%) and attributing revenue to marketing (26%).
- Abundant applications: In the report, marketers cited numerous applications for hyper-personalization. In addition to email marketing, they plan to use hyper-personalization for user experience, content creation, search, social marketing, digital advertising and open-question chatbots.
- A need to improve customer experience: While many marketers acknowledge the importance of personalization and customer experience, they admit they have struggled to get these elements right so far. A recent Accenture study found that 87% of marketers agree that traditional experiences are no longer enough to satisfy customers. Most brands remain mediocre when it comes to the quality of their customer experiences, and many of their customers report that marketing messages only “sometimes” feel personal, and can even characterize personalization methods as “creepy.”
- Market is increasing: With more than half (53%) of marketers having the mindset that AI can boost their effectiveness in driving revenue and identifying new customers and market trends, spending on AI systems is on the rise. IDC says the market for AI systems was over $19 billion in 2018, a 54% increase over 2017, and should reach over $50 million by 2021. Top industries identified to leverage AI include retail, banking, manufacturing and healthcare.
- Best outsourced: While marketers are still in the early stages of considering hyper-personalization, the complexity of implementing a hyper-personalization strategy would lead 80% to outsource their initiatives to third-party experts or, at most, combine it with some in-house functions.
The days of “shot gunning” messages – and sending irrelevant offers to customers and prospects – are nearing an end (if not dead already). Advanced technologies combining behavioral data with AI will show marketers with a certain probability whether a prospect will perform a desired action or not. As a result, marketers will soon no longer compete on, say, price or features, but instead on whether they can make the buyer’s experience as relevant and personal as possible through timely, hyper-personalized offers.
For marketers, the future is now: we all have to start thinking very seriously about applying hyper-personalization – whether to email or other marketing channels. Our customers are demanding more from us, from understanding how and when to best communicate with them, to knowing exactly what to say based on real-time data insights. To put it simply, we need to address their demands or face the risk of lost business.
How far have you taken your hyper-personalization strategies?
Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI by targeting your best prospects – including top-level executives -- and, ultimately, converting more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.