The everyday life of today’s consumer is flooded with marketing messaging. Think about all the emails, notifications, posts, product recommendations, and ads you consume in just one day. How much of that information really sticks? How much of that messaging compels you to purchase a product or service? With all the brands that you may interact with on a given day, you’re more than likely amongst the majority of consumers who believe companies are just not understanding your needs and expectations. We, as a collective, want to feel heard and understood in every facet of our lives.

We want empathy at scale. But, what does empathy at scale look like in your marketing strategy? How does that affect your messaging when you’re communicating business-to-business? Practicing empathy marketing is rooted in customer-centricity and personalization. In order for customers to feel heard and understood, companies need to serve the right personalized content, in the right channel, and at the right time. When done right, the benefits of personalization are huge:

Despite significant benefits, personalization is proving challenging to businesses of all sizes. According to Forbes, “46% of marketing executives are not where they want to be in terms of delivering personalization.” Even the most sophisticated enterprises with abundant budgets have yet to scale personalization across all the ways they engage with customers. Personalized and empathetic marketing is still an evolving strategy that’s entangled with maturing technologies, tools, and principles.

Since many organizations are still in the test-and-learn process with personalization, there’s good news: You can still get ahead. To capitalize on the accelerating shift in how we talk to our customers, consider investing in these 4 marketing foundations:

1. Develop your personas.

Buyer personas are at the heart of how you understand and approach your customers. Personas humanize your buyers and reveal their unique behaviors, goals, preferences, and challenges. They allow you to speak to your customers with empathy and authenticity through content that shows you know how to solve their problems. In a previous blog, we discussed two persona strategies: research-based personas and persona-lites. Depending on your goals, information, and resources, either strategy can create a solid foundation on which to pilot personalization strategies and campaigns.

2. Identify your relevant metrics. 

To get the most out of your personas and to foster one-to-one relationships with your customers, you need to know what data to collect and analyze. Adobe identifies five data points to consider: location, region, behavior, interest, and channels. Tracking these five data-sets using a customer relationship management (CRM) system or customer data platform (CDP) allows marketing teams to form a holistic view of their buyers and continually improve their personalization efforts, from web and display ads to campaigns and conversational marketing.

3. Determine the right processes, technologies, and vendors.

You’ve created your personas and determined what metrics you need to track to help guide your personalization efforts. But the decision-making doesn’t stop there! Now you’ve got to determine what technologies you may need to add to your tech stack, what additional processes need to be implemented, and what vendors you need to bring on to automate or outsource workflows. You’ll also need to consider what type of personalization will best fit your team and unique business needs: rules-based or ML-based personalization. The route you take is going to depend on your goals and what you need to accomplish to convert your ideal customers.

4. Plan your communications in advance. Then iterate.

McKinsey defines personalization as a two-way street: Consumers are sending you signals all the time of what they want, but it’s up to you to respond with “triggers,” which can encompass anything from targeted social posts and retargeting, to thought leadership. By using your personas and existing analytics, marketing teams have a solid way to predict communications and interactions in accordance with customer journeys and preferences. The most successful personalization strategies have a library of trigger messages matched to individual signals. It’s also important to remember that this trial-test-retry process can be long – most companies are reporting that it takes four or five campaigns or iterations before finding the right messaging.

Regardless of where you are in your marketing journey, it’s never too late or too early to begin personalizing your messaging and connecting with your customers on a human, one-to-one level. But scaling personalization can be tricky, even for large and established enterprise teams. To ensure sustainable success and establish the right foundation for personalization, it’s important to understand how to make strategic shifts in your team’s workflows and use technology to begin implementing empathy at scale.

From creating personas to developing targeted content, personalization requires planning, expertise, and bandwidth. Consider engaging with a trusted marketing consultant to help you create, implement, and focus your personalization strategy.

Contact Unreal Digital Group if you have any questions or would like to learn more personalization strategies and how to connect with your customers. And, be sure to follow us on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook so you don’t miss out on strategies and insights.