Content marketers need to get (really) personal

The good news for marketing tech pros is that customers want personalized service both in-store and online. The downside is that they want to see only what's relevant to them and they will punish brands that don't deliver this. What’s a marketer to do?

personalized marketing
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Among marketers, the drum beat to "personalize" messages and offers to customers is growing louder and faster. Personalization sounds nice, but truth is, it's really a long ways off.

Customers still get a lot of irrelevant marketing clutter in their email inboxes, on their social networks and on their mobile phones, and even with the advertisements on the websites they visit. Even worse, customers are getting a little fed up; they're hitting the delete button in droves.

These are the key findings in a survey of 500 online shoppers conducted by Boxever. Nearly 60 percent of consumers say they receive at least six sales and mobile offers from retailers every day. Half of the respondents claim that three out of four offers are irrelevant to them.

What we have here is a failure to be relevant

The fallout from this marketing failure can undercut the top line. Consumers receiving irrelevant marketing messages may not open the next offer from the brand company, perhaps unsubscribing from the company's content or deleting the company's mobile app. Worst of all, 40 percent of consumers say they are less likely to buy from the company in the future.

[Related: Content marketers are overworked and under-performing]

Before wagging the finger at content marketers, you should recognize the Herculean task facing them. For starters, consumers are doing more of their online shopping and Web surfing over mobile devices because they don't want to receive marketing messages and offers. As the world goes mobile, marketers are at a big disadvantage.

Along these lines, the Boxever survey found that 66 percent of consumers say they want to be marketed to via email. After all, email is easiest to delete. Marketers must do a better job at customer identification to ensure their email messages are personalized and relevant.

But this, too, presents challenges. Boxever points out that identification alone won't do the trick. A customer at work, for instance, might be looking for an upscale restaurant to entertain clients but also needs a kid-friendly restaurant for a family outing. This means marketers will have to add contextual marketing to their toolbox.

Customers don’t have a clue

Lastly, customers themselves don't really know what they want.

On one hand, they want brands to know them well and give them personalized service both in-store and online. They want to see only what's relevant to them, and they will punish brands that don't deliver this. A whopping 61 percent of consumers say they want offers targeted to where they are and what they're doing.

Yet, on the other hand, they cry foul over perceived privacy slights. Half of consumers don't want to share their personal information, and three out of five consumers don't want brands tracking their location. Never mind this information is vital for marketers to deliver personalized services and targeted offers.

Trust appears to be the answer to this dilemma.

Other studies show that consumers are willing to give up personal information to brands they trust. But this, too, is a Catch-22: In order to build trust, marketers must forge a personal relationship with a consumer, yet bombarding the consumer with irrelevant messages undermines this trust.

This story, "Content marketers need to get (really) personal" was originally published by CIO.

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