The End of the Line…

Posted on 08/03/2014

Woman shopping in cityFirst customization blurred the marketing premise of “above the line” broad awareness marketing and “below the line” transactional or promotional marketing. Now the combination of personalization plus customization has removed the theoretical line and replaced it with a unique, personal line for each potential consumer.

Customization allows customers to state their preferences and configure, if you will, the product choice that suits their needs. Personalization uses a combination of explicit and implicit data to present a potential consumer with a most-likely-to-meet-your-needs proposed solution up front, thereby minimizing the customization work required by the consumer. Personalization saves consumers time, which is why people generally like personalization, as long as it doesn’t go over the creepy line.

Per eMarketer, 56% of brand marketers said personalization improved response rates in marketing and created stronger brand perceptions. Agency decision makers saw personalization even more favorably with 70% saying it improved response rates and 63% saying it improved brand perceptions.

Whether you believe the brand or agency view, personalization is here to stay and for good reason. In our ever more information-cluttered lives, personalization gives brands an opportunity to connect through the noise uniquely with a current or potential customer. Generally consumers, particularly younger consumers, tune out the formerly known as “above the line” marketing because it sounds too fluffy and esoteric to be useful and it requires them to do some work to figure out how the brand and product will fit their lives. Instead, they want to know what the brand promise is for them and them specifically. This is both the opportunity and challenge for brands in the digital era.

So if the line doesn’t exist, what do you do as a CMO? Marketing has always been about telling stories – stories of possibility, stories of fear alleviated, stories of happiness and joy… all stories of life as we’d prefer it.  Personalization, as the end of the line, simply means your stories multiple endings, depending on the person you’re reaching and what is important to them. Personalization is about seeding possibilities and letting people build their own connected story as a conversation with your brand. ask jud You may seed these stories through TV, web, apps, social media, events, print and any combination of marketing tactics. The end game is to spark an interest, start a dialogue and build a connected story that is personalized, relevant to the individual, authentic and human.

Personalization via digital marketing may be the end of the marketing line as we’ve known it but it is the beginning of a new era of highly personalized, connected marketing and that has huge potential for a digitally savvy CMO.