Personalization is a term that conjures up images of segments, algorithms, platforms, and big budgets. But for the brands linked up with nimble partners who view the marketing ecosystem as an orbit, rather than a funnel, and who view content as fuel for campaigns, personalization is an ever-present tool within the “Experiential Commerce” model that will win audiences and earn returns.
Marketers have a complicated landscape to navigate:
—> There are competitors sitting next to them on the store aisle. There are digital creators hogging precious screentime.
—> There are direct-to-consumer brands killing it in e-commerce and influencer strategy. There are now hundreds of advertising mediums to decipher and budget for.
—> There is a post-pandemic generation of consumers who literally personalize and customize their personal and work lives—and expect their experiences with brands to follow suit.
—> And then there is the impending death of the cookie that will leave search and social media platforms demanding more of the marketing pie.
Attention is currency, and to earn it brands need quality content that moves at the speed of culture and that entices audiences to click for more and to give away bits of personal data to inform future marketing engagements. It’s not enough to gain a follower or a click—marketers have to pull consumers into the orbit and make them part of the conversation to get them hooked.
Take Glossier, which used its community platform to solicit readers for feedback on a product (in this case, the perfect face wash). Its founder took the comments from the brand’s community forum, collected more on social media, and then crowdsourced a new beauty product formula in response. Personalization calls for a two-way relationship with audiences.
Or consider how quickly the Ocean Spray “Dreams” TikTok went viral. How the ceo responded in a relevant and swift manner, like any other digital creator, with his own rough-cut, and how the brand jumped at the chance to expand the “campaign” further by gifting TikToker @DoggFace208 (Nathan Apodaca) a Cran-Raspberry-red truck and lifetime product supply.
“Personalization is fundamental to marketing success in the future, but a lot of brands think: Well, there are hundreds of different platforms and ad units, dozens of profiles, and I have to design content for every unique algorithm that’s out there,” says Jil Lohnes, VP at Salt XC. “So, we push the idea of personalization at scale—that you have to unlock a model where your partners can produce effectively for all the different channels and move fast. That’s the way you’re going to win.”
Building first-party databases is critical to doing personalization well and effectively. After all, brands are no longer marketing to one audience segment. They’re marketing to hundreds. Passion points are niche, there are communities serving all of them, and there are micro and macro influencers consumers trust at their helm. Influencer partnerships today translate into real first-party data and transactions through a custom shoppable discount code or hashtag.
When you have compelling content that drives an action—like a click or a reveal of a preference—you can start to track behaviors, rather than simply attitudes. Behavioral data helps brands predict not only how a consumer will want to engage with them in the future, but when they might make a purchase. You can engineer personalization and that consumer journey with better data based on target demographics, need states and preferences.
“The experiential industry really has suffered in the last two years, but the next era of campaigns requires marketers to think horizontally across the disciplines—public relations, event, advertising, strategy, digital, data,” says Aidan Tracey of Salt XC. “And with the right team to navigate that, they can blend these multidisciplinary skills around great creative with great experiences that link to digital, which then link back to their first-party databases and, ultimately, more relevant and targeted marketing.”
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If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that the brand orbit is replacing the traditional marketing funnel. There is no single pathway, no one-size-fits-all approach to campaigns in this era of the “Great Reset,” but the brands focused on digitally led stories, personalization and data, are going to come out on top.
As Lohnes puts it: “The future of the media plan is all about scenario planning, and figuring out how to create a hyper-personalized, relevant and contextual experience or communication across all the touch points—and fast.”