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In-depth: How personalised marketing is making customer acquisition easier for brands

Brands are collecting valuable insights on individual audience behaviour and are delivering highly tailored digital engagement to solve specific requirements of their potential customers. finds out how brands are using the personalisation strategy to reduce the spillage and target their sharply defined audience groups

Brands are jostling in the ‘attention economy’ for capturing the only currency that matter, ‘attention’.

Personalisation and hyper-personalisation marketing on digital helps brands stand out and increase engagement and conversions with its target audience.

Top brands such as Amazon, Spotify and Starbucks have moved on to a stage of predictive personalisation where AI and machine learning analyse a whole host of factors to power their recommendation engine.

Where personalisation only uses available information such as names, job function, age, company, etc., hyper-personalisation uses real-time data and behaviour online, which eventually is used in communication aimed at the customer in a highly personalised matter.

The strategy not only gives brands valuable insights on their individual audience behaviour and preferences but they are also able to create a highly tailored engagement to meet an individual’s requirements. By and large, most businesses that are dabbling with personalisation generally don’t venture beyond segmentation. spoke to industry experts to find out how brands are using this strategy to reduce the spillage and target their sharply defined audience.

Shekhar Mhaskar

Speaking on the tilt of industry towards personalised and hyper-personalised marketing, Shekhar Mhaskar, Chief Growth Officer, Isobar India, said, “Marketers are now able to hyper-personalise communication to evoke consumer interaction that benefits the brand, and there is measureable ROI. Earlier, they would spray and pray. Also, they can save and optimise the advertising spends for a better outcome. The industry is already there and asking for more.”

“At Isobar, we have used block chain technology for Ceat Tyres to reach out to a sharply defined audience, thus avoiding not only spillage, but also ad fraud,” he adds.

Khushboo Solanki Sharma

Khushboo Solanki Sharma, Founder, Zero Gravity Communications, said, “In the age of data, free-floating personal/social information, high computing capability and smart devices, hyper-personalisation can be a very powerful tool if brands learn to use it wisely to predict consumer journey and react accordingly.”

Smita Murarka

Smita Murarka, Head, Marketing, MAS Brands, said, “While there are brands that are early adopters of hyper-personalised marketing, this is still a new concept and it will take time for brands of all sizes to invest in implementing it; personalisation is being used by most brands today.”

Harsh Shah

Harsh Shah, Sr. VP, Dentsu Webchutney, said, “According to a recent survey done by Ascend2, only 9% of the marketers have completed developing their hyper-personalised marketing strategy, and 29% are working on it. Marketers have realised the need of it, it is just a matter of time when we start seeing success models based on the same.”

Nishith Srivastava

Nishith Srivastava, National Head of Strategy, Indigo Consulting, said, “In the long-term perspective, personalised and hyper-personalised marketing builds positions and evolves product-led brands to a purpose-led brand. In the current scenario, media agencies are the ones leveraging it most for the client brands. As they have strict KPIs to meet and derive outcomes from their campaigns, their media targeting is certainly leveraging advanced hyper-personalised tactics. Industry, as a whole, needs to evolve from confining it to only paid media campaigns to a holistic usage by expanding it in their owned and earned content marketing strategies. Brands need to start investing in either in-house integration of these applications and processes or through their creative agencies.”

Mandeep Singh

Mandeep Singh, Head of Marketing and Digital Experience at Aegon Life Insurance, said, “Brands that will not look at personalisation now will most likely lose out to big tech companies or start-ups that take hyper-personalisation very seriously so much so that it sits at the core of their product design.”

Samit Sinha

According to Samit Sinha, Founder and Managing Partner of Alchemist Brand Consulting, the marketing type helps marketers hugely increase the efficiency of their marketing spends by significantly reducing wastage, by targeting only relevant audiences.

How brands benefit

Personalised and hyper-personalised marketing concepts reflect the paradigm shift from a previously product-centric to customer-centric marketing; serving the right message to the right customer at the right time makes the message resonate more, the brand to the customer.

According to Mhaskar, when a brand talks to its consumers by addressing their personal needs, that’s when they strike the gold. The consumers then instantly respond to the communication and connect with the brand. Then it is up to the brand on how it leverages that connect. “At Isobar, we ran a campaign for Bobbi Brown (an ELC brand) where we hyper-targeted women in different geographies of the country and hyper-personalised messaging depending on their local weather-related skin conditions. The uptake was tremendous,” he exemplified.

“Brands should simply focus on a superior customer experience for now and the rest can easily follow. On the other hand, hyper-personalisation without a customer opt-in can be a very bad outcome for a brand,” Shah said.

“By using data received from this marketing type, at MAS Brands, we launched our full-figure lingerie specialist brand, Ultimo, using the feedback forms from amanté consumers. It is designed to suit a specific size and body type of consumers. Their problems and needs are very different from an amanté consumer, and thus it makes it easier for us to design and cater to the needs of this base individually, resulting in consumer delight at an individual level,” Murarka said.

“For the consumers, it is a delight when brands know them and their needs and can fine-tune their offer, for e.g. customers give their birth dates to us while calculating their insurance quotes, If they don’t buy the product, we reach out to them 30 days before their birthday with a message that their ‘premiums will go up soon’, by doing this we are meeting two objectives — creating urgency for the consumers to make a purchase decision; the other is letting customers know that by buying now they can save some money,” said Singh.

However, Srivastava explains that despite being so fool-proof, the implementation of a hyper-local campaign isn't easy. “Hyper-personalised marketing is one of the frequently used phrases in strategy meetings; we end up talking about target audience behaviour and how relevant content marketing approach will be crafted across the consumer journeys. But it doesn’t evolve to a proper hyper-personalised marketing applications and process integration in their paid-owned-earned media ecosystem (POEM). In most of the scenarios, it is done manually as a content marketing roadmap and mainly for social and digital content creation to cater to consumer expectation across their path to purchase journeys. Hence, theoretically, it starts from crafting relevant content for social and digital media based on consumer demographics, behaviour and preferences. And then it’s being used across the entire POEM ecosystem. This leads to ticking the boxes in their marketing strategy but not actually a proper integration of data with machine learning and applications to leverage it.  

Challenges and solutions

Singh said the biggest challenge for a brand remains in aggregating all customer behaviour and interactions across platforms in one single place. “A lot of tech-enabled companies are building data lakes and customer data platforms to overcome this challenge. With more experience around these areas, the quality and efficiencies around personalisation will increase. The other challenge that I see is a lack of trained talent on these new technologies,” he said.

According to Mhaskar, the targeting and understanding of consumers, even within a campaign, evolves. Brands need to understand that and have patience. There is science behind it, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach that applies to all.

Murarka, said, “Hyper-personalised marketing is fully reliable on technology and historic behaviour. If these factors change in a consumer then the data might mislead us into targeting the wrong customer segment, thereby defeating the whole purpose of serving the right message to the right customer. However, any technology-driven decision is a far better risk than manual interventions and communications.”

Shah and Srivastava agreed on a point, that applying the insights to actual decision making is the biggest challenge. That might require investments that might not show immediate ROI. The infrastructure to implement that AI to deliver results can also eat into the already limit marketing budgets.

According to Srivastava, content intelligence is the answer for this. And the process is quite simple and linear:

*Use basic listening, databases and analytics tools.

*Understand consumer behaviour and preferences (qualitative and quantitative).

*Leverage content intelligence to derive insights and communication space (planning and strategy).

*Craft campaigns and content as per consumer journeys (content production).

*Integrated channel planning for publishing (POEM).

*Track, analyse and optimise performance (real-time data and analytics).

“Depending on the effectiveness and outcome, brand managers can build the business case for investing in advanced tools and applications to automate the process,” he said.

According to Sinha, hyper-personalisation can make the brand mean different things to different people, resulting in the absence of shared meanings among consumers with respect to the brand, which is critical in creating a strong brand image. It can be overcome by the brand being consistently true to its core values in all its marketing activities and ensuring the brand maintains its essential personality and character by using the same tonality across all target consumers.

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