What are the five pillars of personalisation marketing?

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Most people look at personalisation marketing as a new and recent addition to the digital marketing mix, but this is an incorrect and dated view. Personalisation marketing has been around at least in principle for more than 25 years. In fact I developed one of the first personalised marketing programmes for Heidelberg USA more than 20 years ago.

To determine what has changed and what has transferred this “legacy” technology into the modern digital world of marketing, you need to look at the independent components of this discipline, also known as the five pillars of personalisation marketing.

In fact, with the digitalisation of this technology, which could not exist in a purely analog world, the modern brand, enterprise, marketing disrupters and influencers can, when properly executed, find that personalisation marketing is a powerful results-driven tool that is draped in metrics, measurement, ROI, and repeatability as well as re-marketing – all of which are the foundations of modern digital marketing.

To ensure success and to make sure you have the witch’s brew of modern digital marketing mixed correctly, you need to balance, design, if you like your personalised marketing programme based on the five integrated components or pillars listed below.

Pillar one: Big data

Component one is big data, a term that you have heard over and over again. What is big data? It is among other things a collection, library or database containing extremely large data sets that may be using computer technology to analyse and reveal trends, patterns, topics, and associations, (sometimes called clusters) as the data relates to human behavior and interactions.

Big data on its own is useful, but I have discovered over the last 25 years and the hundreds of personalised marketing programmes I have designed and deployed, that big data by its strategic definition can only go so far as it leads to shallow personalised marketing campaigns.

To make big data work, you need to understand, integrate and use the balance of the pillars to add to and strengthen the analysis of big data.

Pillar two: Relevancy

I first start to look for relevancy in the data. How does relevancy relate to the brand and its goals and objectives for the project? Being relevant can mean many things. It can allow you to focus on a finding within the data analysis, a trend for example, that not only supports the brand, but the needs of consumer too.

Yes, relevancy can force you to be consumer or customer centric, which is never a bad thing in the world of digital marketing. Relevancy can also lead you to the correct media, devices or tools to use. For example what media, devices or tools would you use to gain the attention of attorneys or lawyers in the United States? Stay tuned, the answer will be provided at the end of this article.

Pillar three: Integration

Relevance can and will be of substantial benefit if your message is defined across all media and devices. The integration of message (content and context), the brand, and visually all within the consistent parameters of the defined programe is critical.

Think about your own experiences. If a message is stated differently (from the same brand) across different media and devices, what do you think? There are three items that top the list of why a personalised marketing effort failed, guess what those three items are? That answer as well will be provided at the end of this article.

Pillar four: Interaction

Integrated relevance makes a lot of sense; you are keeping to a message defined by the research parameters while adopting research that discovered trends of what is beneficial to the brand and the consumer.

What comes next? How do you move and drive the interested consumer to complete the circle? By offering a series of tools that allow action or interaction based on the value of the media to the targeted consumer. The interaction allows you to establish two key elements of the programme that aredialogue and engagement with the consumer.

Without dialogue and the extension to an engagement process, your efforts will have been in vain. You may have found the right target along with the correct, relevant message. Your message may also be perfectly integrated across all media, but you did not understand the need to provide different audiences with different actions, that drive them to the shopping cart and checkout, devices and tools?

How do you use traditional direct mail as a tool to gain more than a sale? Yes, that answer will be provided at the end of this article.

Success is now close at hand. You, the modern brand, enterprise, marketing disrupters and influencer, have correctly defined the data tea leaves. You have found what is hidden among the big data, the relevant topics that both support your needs and those of the targeted audience. You have also successfully integrated the brand, visuals, and messaging across all the different media you selected.

Relevant media is based on the data and will have provided links, hyperlinks, AR, QR, NFC, SoLoMo (social location and mobile) and other action tools to make the sale as effortless and as simple as possible.

Great, but did the programme succeed?

Pillar five: Measurement

Measurement is a critical aspect of any effort, but prior to determining the measurement of the programme you need to determine if the results are directly related to the purpose of the programme. Is this a lead generation effort? Is it an awareness campaign? Are you undertaking a sales programme? Perhaps you are seeking referrals? Your goals and objectives can have an impact on the results.

Do not expect “great” sales numbers if the program has been developed from the data to be an awareness effort. Measurement needs to be considered within the bull’s eye of your goals and objectives.

Will a new business programme provide you with the required sales? Maybe, but how will the relevance, integration and interactions support that new business effort? The holy grail of marketing is sales, but for me and within my skill set, I look to define programme-related results as the most important. Leads are great if that was your goal, but conversions to a sale are better, again, if that was your goal.

Personalised or personalisation marketing is clearly a tool that’s day has come, but it is worth remembering that it is a tool that is not as simple as inserting a name, title or location.

Personalised marketing is like all marketing, a managed effort promoting and selling products or services, linked by data, relevance, integration, interaction and measurement. Without these five integrated pillars your marketing effort will be weak and provide results that may be more then disappointing.

Answers to questions:

Pillar two: Mobile and tablet technology along with media that can be easily viewed on these devices. Steer away from using only print-based media, but not direct mail as it is still a powerful tool.

Pillar three: Content/context, interaction and unrealistic expectations.

Pillar four: Consider supporting legacy technology such as direct mail, with more than just print. Also take a look at your integrated print direct mail effort with integrated print, print that includes the use QR codes, AR, Watermarks, NFC or other new media.

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23 Nov 2014, 1:37 p.m.

Thank Thaddeus for this article.
I have several comments on it:
First is that, for me, big data is a very important new tool for personalization, but it is far from being enough, because big data gives a static picture of the market, or, when recorded on a long period, it only gives a small piece of a movie, except that there is not one movie going on in a market, but as many as Consumers. So it is also very important to understand the motivations, the needs and the culture of the Customers, in order to address them the most accurately. I think this field is called ethnographic marketing. When you think about it, big data would not have helped much Steve Jobs, and, by definition, disruptive innovation...
Second is that, in the five pillars, is missing a lot... what the company brings: the product. Is also missing the company itself: here is mentioned almost only the brand, but I think for a personalized marketing, all level of details are important, and shall be coherent.
That is why I think a marketer shall know first perfectly his company, his brand and his products. He needs to have a constant and deep interaction with every company department. This might seem obvious (a pillar before the pillars?), but many marketers seem to forget this basic rule. You can not personalize your message if you do not know what you are...
Third is that the personalization shall not only be about the accurate definition of the market and rules do address it, but also about the marketing techniques which shall be used. There have been many innovations in the past 15 years, and there is more and more every day. Indeed, for me, if you have well identified your market and know exactly how to target them, you need the tools to do so. If you do not have them, your marketing can not be personalized: big data would not have helped 30 years ago...


3 Dec 2014, 2:34 a.m.

In my view, the fifth pillar is actually the way to figure out how to address the other four. The data that you have on a consumer that you want to be relevant must be "disruptive" -- meaning that it must evoke the desired action. The fact is that there may be very few determinants that disrupt consumers to take the desired action and finding the right ones is the key to successful marketing. Once you have that you can then tailor those determinants to each person or group. This reduces the need for thousands of variable data fields to just a few choice ones. So the research, testing and measurement you do up front actually drives the rest of your strategy used for the other four pillars. LZ