For years, marketers have debated the importance of personalized, people-based marketing as a means of communicating more effectively and efficiently with prospects and customers. But while many marketers were treating personalization as a “nice to have” for their campaigns, it has become an absolute imperative for a growing number of consumers.
Infogroup recently surveyed more than 1,500 consumers to gauge their current attitudes and preferences when it comes to personalized advertising. We found not only that personalization has become an expected component of modern brand messaging, but also that its absence can have serious repercussions.
How Important Is Personalization?
Most marketers recognize that personalized communications with consumers are desirable, but few may realize exactly how important customers and prospects consider this form of tailored messaging. In our survey, 93 percent of respondents reported that they’d received marketing communications that were not relevant to them.
While the notion that nearly every consumer has received irrelevant brand communications or offers isn’t terribly surprising, the potential repercussions for these errant bits of messaging might be. In fact, 44 percent of consumers are willing to switch to brands that better personalize marketing communications. Think about that: Nearly half of consumers are willing to walk away from brands with whom they already have a relationship because of a lack of personalization.
Furthermore, 90% of consumers say that messages from companies that are not personally relevant to them are “annoying.” Of those irritating messages, 53% say advertising for an irrelevant product tops their list of messaging annoyances.
Things get even more dire when we break things down by generation. Among age groups, the coveted millennial demographic ranks personalization as being most “critical” to earning and keeping their business. Furthermore, four in 10 Millennials say the most important thing a brand can do is ensure advertisements are relevant to their interests. This desire for personalization goes deeper than messaging as well. In fact, 68 percent of Millennials say they would share their fitness tracker data with companies if it would result in personalized health and life insurance (i.e., lower premiums).
What Customers Want—and What They Don’t
Consumers demand relevance in their marketing communications and, according to our survey, prefer that brands reach them via email above all other channels. Of course, relevance comes in many shapes, and certain personalization aspects are more highly valued by consumers than others. An impressive 70% of consumers say they would pay more attention to personalized products. In terms of what brands can do to ensure that their communications are relevant, respondents cited the following five requirements:
- Relevant to my interests
- Product details
- Is a product or brand I already enjoy
- Tells a good story
- Makes me laugh
While the above represent best practices for personalized communications, the mistakes that brands commonly make are also instructive. Respondents cited the following as their top pet peeves within brand communications:
- Talking about topics I have no interest in
- Trying to sell me things I already own
- Misspelling my name
- Getting my identity or gender wrong
- Getting my location wrong
While mistakes like misspelled names, incorrect genders and wrong locations are often glaring within communications, it’s interesting that consumers rank faux pas of irrelevance (wrong topics, wrong products) as being even more irritating and off-putting. Without a doubt, we’ve entered an era in which consumers expect companies to know who they are on the surface, and also what they like and need on a deeper level.
Relevance is no longer a “nice to have.” It’s become a requirement. More consumers than ever are indicating that personalized messaging is crucial in marketing communications, but this kind of messaging doesn’t happen in a vacuum. True relevance is fueled by complete and accurate data — the kind that goes beyond surface-level demographics to deliver true insights into a consumer’s needs and desires. If brands want to deliver true personalization to consumers — and reap the rewards of increased customer engagement and loyalty that come with it — they need to start with actionable, insightful data.
Tom Zawacki is chief digital officer for Infogroup