Now more than ever before, personalization in marketing and consumer messaging matters. Customers nowadays expect the brands they interact with to provide them with a personalized experience, as this allows them to feel seen and heard. Hyper-digitalization of has only further led to many brands increasing their online presence, allowing them to leverage new opportunities in new markets and helping to boost their engagement among loyal customers. marketing In fact, shows that personalization has become one of the most important facets of the customer journey as it helps to drive performance and further enhance the customer experience, with around 71 percent of consumers expecting brands to deliver personalized interactions, and the same percentage feeling frustrated when companies don’t provide a personalized experience. research Countless studies, surveys, and reports have shown that personalization not only leads to improved customer engagement but also helps to drive influence, boost revenue, and increase the customer conversion rate. Yet, with all this research and countless proof that indicates personalization works, some businesses are still lagging behind, leaving them in the dust, while competitors scoop a growing portion of the market share. Boosting Marketing Personalization Already in 2023, and the years before that, we’ve realized that marketing personalization can play a pivotal part in a company's success in engaging and retaining clients. Now, in 2024, two entrepreneurs, Dusty and Peter McMullin, are hoping to shed some more light on the matter of personalization, encouraging others to follow a framework that could further boost their customer retention and grow revenue. Collect Data and Analysis “Data has become the name of the game, and without it, your business is losing out on so many more valuable opportunities,” says Peter McMullin, President of Sibu Sea Berry Therapy, a natural specialty supplement and functional food brand. “There’s more to data than just numbers; in fact, we tend to think of data as our roadmap or blueprint that’s helping to guide us towards building a more personalized customer experience.” In the last several years, companies of all shapes and sizes have boosted their investment in data tools, including data harvesting and analysis tools. Using these channels, companies can gain an increased overview of who their customers are, where they’re situated, and what type of questions they’re asking or answers they’re looking for. Data collection, along with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) now gives a more in-depth view of what customers want from the brands they are shopping at. Data allows companies to ultimately understand customers’ pain points and the problems they’re looking to resolve. Establish a buyer persona. Now that you have the tools to collect consumer data, the second step can be to develop a buyer persona. The buyer persona should represent or be a representation of the type of people you would want to see in your target audience. requires an in-depth look at social and financial demographics. As part of this process, you’ll need to identify the touch points through which you can reach your buyers, as these can include an omnichannel of diverse areas, including social media, email marketing, in-store experiences, or other forms of messaging. Developing a buyer persona Dusty McMullin, Vice President of Operations at Sibu shares, “Developing a buyer persona gives you an understanding of the type of customers you’ll most likely be marketing for, and what are some of their likes and dislikes.” The more layers you begin to add to your buyer persona, the easier it will become for you to build a well-detailed action plan for your marketing efforts. On top of this, it would allow you the opportunity to better understand how you can craft your messaging or even further improve your personalization efforts. Segment your audiences “As a company that sells a range of niche consumer-focused products, segmentation allowed us to know what products we should be marketing to which groups of our target audience,” says Dusty. With segmentation, you begin to take another step further down the road of personalization, allowing you to further divide your audience into different groups based on various demographics, including age, gender, income, and location. By having a segmented approach, you will begin to cancel out some consumers who don’t fit your target message and further focus on those groups that provide you with more upside potential. Segmentation allows you to get behind your clients and know exactly who they are and what they’re looking for. More importantly, segmentation makes it easier for you to craft messages based on these groups’ needs and where you will need to provide customers with a point of interaction i.e., social media, email marketing, print media, etc. Get to know what your customers want By asking your customers what they want, you begin to collect more real-world data that can form part of your wider personalization marketing plan. This is simply yet another facet of data collection and is often considered a more practical approach for smaller businesses that don’t necessarily have the resources or tools to harvest and analyze vast amounts of consumer data. By asking customers what they want, you further paint a more detailed picture of your customer persona, helping to answer their most burning questions and see which areas of the business strategy and marketing campaign can be improved to help generate more engagement. Take, for example, some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or email marketing report tools that can become valuable resources for determining what your clients are looking for, but also what are current marketplace trends. Peter shares, “In the beginning years of our business, around the time the internet was picking up steam, we had to craft emails in such a way that it deliberately asked a few simple questions, with a call to action for each.” He continues, “This allowed us to get an idea of our clients, where they may be in the customer journey, and what we can do to improve the road ahead.” Peter and Dusty recently launched a natural Omega-7 supplement that contains the proprietary T7 Sea Buckthorn Oil, created by Sibu. Sea Buckthorn has been found to hold a variety of natural properties that alleviate inflammation and boost cell production. In this scenario, we see that providing a highly specialized and niche product would require brands to develop a strategy that would enable them to better understand where clients are at in the customer journey and whether a product like this is something that will help answer their needs. Leverage social media tools If you didn’t already know, social media has a plethora of business marketing tools that can help you build a more robust marketing strategy through data collection, segmentation, and targeted ads. As a business owner, you can use social media to create a plan that focuses on meeting certain consumers at specific touch points. Although you may already have a social media marketing strategy - if you don’t already have one, start planning - taking into account which consumer segments make use of which platforms can help you further craft content messages according to their needs. People use social media for different things. Research by the found that nearly half of American social media users currently obtain their news from social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and X (Twitter). Then there are things such as gender, where research shows that more women tend to use social media platforms compared to men as a whole of total active social media users. Pew Research Center Using these platforms gives you a bird's eye view of what customers are doing on different platforms, how they perceive your messages, and what you can do to craft more engaging content, including multimedia and written content. “When our father, Bruce McMullin, founded his business back in 2004, social media wasn’t even around yet, well at least not in the capacity it is today,” says Dusty. “However, in recent years, we’ve managed to grow our brand representation and continue building new relationships with existing and potential clients through the use of social media. I think it’s mostly about our approach, but also about how we craft our messaging in such a way that we can inform customers about new product ranges or trends taking place in the industry.” Integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) The future of online business, more specifically e-commerce, will be powered by Artificial Intelligence. Already, we’re seeing businesses across a wide range of industries and sectors bringing onboard AI tools to automate specific tasks, such as generating new social media content, analyzing customer trends, developing more advanced automated responses, and even building robust marketing strategies. Without artificial intelligence, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to navigate new challenges and obstacles in the market. More than this, there’s an entire ecosystem now being developed to help business owners find more meaning from the data they have on their customers and create personalized experiences with foolproof insights. However, while AI integration is important and valuable, the integration process thereof is just as important. You will need to that allows you to understand the basic fundamentals of artificial intelligence and what this technology can do for your business. have an AI strategy Without a clear plan about how you can implement AI in your marketing campaigns, it will leave you falling out of the pot and into the pan. Make sure that you conduct a thorough investigation of the different AI tools that are available, how they’re used, and what can benefit your business the most. Be human in your delivery Customers want to have an authentic experience more than anything, perhaps. While it’s important to build a marketing strategy around the facts and figures, letting that take charge of your business will only lead to customers feeling disengaged from your brand or your messaging. One study by revealed that around 57% of customers will likely increase their spending with a brand that they feel more connected with. Even better than this, 76% of those customers are more likely to buy from a brand, which in this case may be you, over a competitor if they feel connected with that brand. Sprout Social “People want to have real connections with a brand,” says Peter. “The limitation in this scenario is only how well you can craft a message in such a way that it makes people feel seen, heard, and noticed. Nowadays, customers want to know who’s the people behind the brand, their faces and voices. Make that part of your personalization statement.” Perhaps the takeaway here is that it’s important to be human first and then everything else. Creating a more authentic experience carries value and helps to drive customer engagement. By making this an important part of your business, you will help customers better understand the people behind the brand and the personas that are helping them find workable solutions to their problems. Wrapping Up In 2024, we can expect to see a lot more brands pushing to create authentic and personalized experiences for customers in a hyper-digital ecosystem of online shopping and social media. However, this creates a bit of a challenge for younger, less experienced entrepreneurs who are only starting their business journey. Although countless tried and trusted methods work, finding the one that perfectly fits your business niche and consumer market can help you drive the conversation and foster more meaningful relationships with your clients. “Trust the process; that's perhaps the one thing we learned when it comes to personalization marketing. Not everything will always go to plan. However, knowing that you can deliver an authentic experience that resonates with your brand and tone of voice will see you build a more meaningful connection with loyal and potential customers,” says Peter.