One-to-one marketing is employed by many businesses today. But with varying results.
Some companies execute customer-centric marketing plans that account for individuals' personal preferences and interests based on interactions with their companies.
Others attempt to create individualized programs, but they assume static, workflow-based, marketing campaign-style messaging alone will do the trick. (Spoiler alert: It won't.)
What distinguishes successful individual marketing programs from those that fail to resonate with high-value contacts mostly lies with the tech used for such approaches.
Personalized interactions with customers at the individual level has its obvious advantages for many businesses: from publishers and retailers to travel and hospitality brands.
In fact, both B2C companies with an ecommerce presence and B2B businesses with dedicated account-based marketing strategies can reap the benefits of the approach:
The former can bolster their conversion rates for specific customers with custom-tailored messaging (e.g., product-based promotions for items of interest) across the most relevant, most-engaged-with channels and at the most appropriate times.
The latter can leverage customer data for key decision-makers and primary contacts at prospective clients to deliver hyper-personalized messaging via manually sent emails, in lifecycle orchestration activities, and through other sales tools and tactics.
But neither business can realize a strong return on marketing investment from their one-to-one marketing initiatives without effective, intuitive tech that enables real-time orchestration and helps them provide bespoke and meaningful customer experiences.
How one-to-one marketing leads to greater customer loyalty and experiences
We suppose you could call the leadership team at customer experience consultancy firm Peppers & Rogers Group — including its founder, Don Peppers — prophets. (Of sorts.)
That's because Peppers and fellow partners at his firm saw the one-to-one marketing trend coming a mile (or rather hundreds of miles) away. (Well before the turn of the century even.)
Peppers and Co. literally wrote the book on how to develop an individual-focused strategy that entails nurturing and converting specific contacts into net-new (and loyal) customers.
While published in 1999, the guide — and the individualized marketing approach on which it's based — remains as relevant as ever. As Peppers and his team noted:
"To launch a one-to-one initiative, your company must be able to locate and contact ... customers directly, or at least a substantial portion of its most valuable customers."
However, Peppers noted marketers need to have info about customers beyond the basics. In today's marketing landscape, that means rich, constantly updated behavioral and engagement data — not just 'remembered' details like names and email addresses.
There are certainly instances in which targeting personas (i.e., broad segments) with relevant messaging based on cumulative interests and engagement ("personification," as Gartner refers to it) is helpful for enhancing your efforts.
Today, though, brands are expected to go one step further and tailor recommendations and messaging at the individual level to show they both understand prospects' and customers' unique wants and needs and want to supply a stellar customer experience to those folks.
The good news? The benefits of compiling this first-party data and incorporating it in ongoing customer lifecycle orchestration activities for specific individuals are many:
63% of millennials like when brands track their activities and make personalized recommendations. — 2019 GfK and National Retail Federation white paper
90% of senior-level, U.S.-based marketing professionals indicated personalizing the CX is crucial for their businesses to succeed. — 2018 Verndale white paper
98% of marketing leaders from both B2B and B2C companies noted personalization helps advance customer relationships. — 2019 Luxury Institute research
Consumer privacy regulations remain relative roadblocks to one-to-one marketing success. Many consumers, however, relayed they're fine with brands who utilize personal data when it's used appropriately (e.g., not shared with partners and other vendors).
All that said, it's safe to say the pros of individual marketing outweigh the (few minor) cons.
One-to-one marketing examples: Interacting with customers individually
"But how do actual, on-the-ground marketing professionals use unified, individual-level, first-party customer data to assemble and advance their one-to-one marketing strategies?"
We can think of a couple worthwhile examples of brands that built successful personalization programs — ones constructed with help from the customer data platform (CDP).
Sporting goods retailer enhances targeted advertising
At its heart, individualized marketing is about ensuring the right message reaches the right people at the right time. But it's also about making sure no marketing efforts (and, therefore, spend) are wasted by conducting outreach to the wrong (i.e., uninterested) contacts.
Goba Sports Group wanted to improve marketing efficiency with its one-to-one targeted advertising efforts across channels by lowering its cost per action (CPA). Simultaneously, the brand aimed to elevate its overall return on advertising spend (ROAS).
So, the online retailer turned to our pure-play customer data platform.
Integrating all data across its martech ecosystem into its BlueConic tenant and, thereby, creating exhaustive customer profiles for all contacts led to a full single customer view for the goba marketing team to use data from all of their channels to optimize its advertising.
The results? At the micro level, a 24% reduction in CPA and 59% rise in ROAS. At the macro level, far more potent one-to-one marketing to individuals based on their distinct interests and attributes unified in a centralized database with a single UI.
Car rental agency shows individualized on-site deals
Knowing when and where your audience interacts with your brand is great. (A must today, really.) But if you solely track this engagement data and don't act on it in a timely manner (e.g., real-time one-to-one marketing), it's simply a waste of first-party data collection.
Advantage Rent A Car constantly optimizes its website and digital presence at-large to offer a stellar CX. Recently, though, the rental business realized it could do better when it came to converting visitors. The solution? More personalized homepage experiences for them.
By leveraging our CDP, the Advantage marketing team established a robust direct-to-consumer strategy that helped it better segment and understand its audience.
And it saw the fruits of its individual marketing in the form of a 25% bump in direct bookings on its website within a 90-day period following its personalization efforts.
Improving your one-to-one marketing with a CRM strategy and real-time data
One-to-one marketing is really all about customer relationship management (CRM).
The more you leverage first-party customer data to provide a top-tier CX for your audience, the more likely it is they'll be compelled to reengage with your business.
That is, browse your website again, engage with additional emails, and — if you master your approach — purchase once more. (Or, if you're a subscription brand, renew.)
According to Bain Partners Christine Removille and Francine Gierak, refinements to one's data collection and utilization efforts are pivotal to realize this successful CRM strategy.
But so too is building the framework for streamlined data unification and activation (a.k.a. data liberation) and avoiding the old ways of thinking when it comes to developing a successful strategy that regularly boosts return on marketing investment.
"Traditional fixed budgets, annual calendars and large-scale campaigns cut against the grain of modern imperatives such as real-time, one-to-one marketing and continual in-market testing," Removille and Gierak noted.
Due to the decline in efficacy of old-school, planned-well-in-advance marketing approaches, the Bain partners added today’s organizations and their marketing departments must “become faster and more nimble in their decision-making."
That means it's imperative for you and your team to establish the foundation for more flexible marketing that empowers individualized messaging in actual real time.
(In other words, avoid database technologies that offer delayed data syncs, rely solely batch processing, or require IT intervention — all of which stifle real-time activation.)
Bottom line: A thriving, sustainable one-to-one marketing strategy requires the right martech. But it also necessitates a philosophical shift on the part of CMOs and their teams to adapt accordingly to the times and meet their audience where they are.
That is to say, brands must collectively orchestrate more intelligent lifecycle marketing that addresses the wants and needs of their audience by tracking their journeys accordingly and responding with the most pertinent and timely messaging.
Watch our on-demand webinar to learn how you can launch a lifecycle marketing strategy and start delivering one-to-one experiences to your customers.