25 Oct Personalizing Your Marketing Message
Real-time marketing aims to reach your intended customer with a personalized message based on how that customer is interacting with your brand at that particular moment. It’s an ideal that most marketing professionals are only beginning to dream of approaching. We’re going to break it down into manageable bits and help you understand where the concept would be relevant to your craft-based business and what you can do to incorporate its principles into your marketing efforts.
Do You Personalize Your Marketing?
Do you write one email marketing message and send it to all your customers? How do you choose the topic and the inventory on which you want to focus, and how’s that working for you? If that’s your basic approach, you’re trying to reach your customers based on what you want to sell, not what they want to buy. Personalizing a marketing message takes into account an individual customer’s history of interests and purchases, allowing you to craft a message that appeals to that customer. Real-time marketing takes it a step further and creates dynamic offers that appear to your customer in seconds as s/he browses your company’s website, or perhaps shortly after s/he’s left it. Both strategies are more effective than a single broadcast message delivered across your customer base, but there’s a lot more that goes into them.
A Custom Experience
Today’s consumer, whether in a B2B or B2C relationship, has come to expect a custom experience in their transactions. Delivering it, however, is a challenge for small and large businesses alike. Knowing your customers and their preferences is essential to crafting a custom marketing message, but gathering the information to create an accurate picture of each of your customers is an elusive target. Where does this information come from and how do you put it together?
* Past purchases. Your customer knows which of your products sell best for her and likely re-orders them on a regular basis. A quick scan of her order history with you should give you a realistic idea of which of your other products should do well for her, too. Putting together an offer of her familiar favorites with some fresh but related options tailors the message to her needs.
* Social media listening. How do your customers interact with your brand on your social media platforms? Which of your posts elicits the best responses? Once you figure out what your customers respond to, offer each of them more of what they like. Take it a step further and follow your customers on social media. With what other brands do they interact? With what aspects of those brands do they engage? What, in your product line, do you offer that is parallel to their other interests? Send them a marketing message that highlights the relevant features of your products. Start thinking of social media as an important way to gather information about your customers, not just a way to disseminate information to them.
* Align with service and support. The direct feedback you receive from your customers is a valuable source of information about their satisfaction with your products. We advise you to work closely with your sales and customer support teams to close the loop on customer feedback. Of course, the loop is already closed for a lot of you because you’re the one wearing all those hats. Make an effort, though, to spare the time to align the information you get from handling customer complaints or service issues with your sales records. If there’s a consistent issue with a product across customers, it’s a problem you need to solve. If, however, some of your customers are delighted with a product while others struggle to sell it, you need to be the conduit for sharing the successful approaches for selling that product. Whether it’s via a newsletter, your website, your social media posts or a specific private message, your company is the vehicle for your customers to learn from each other. Offering that customized knowledge as part of a marketing message puts that information to work for your company.
Past Performance is Not Indicative of Future Results
Alas, the tips we just gave are based on past customer behavior. Knowing which products your customers like, how they’ve used and sold them and where they see room for improvement is valuable information, but it leaves out one important element: what they want next.
Figuring out future customer desires and moving your company in the direction your customers are headed is a growing trend in marketing, known as predictive analytics. It’s a big business in and of itself, and one that even the largest organizations have yet to implement fully. According to the whitepaper Predicting Routes to Revenue issued by the CMO Council in 2016, only about half “plan to invest in predictive analytics platforms to maximize customer value in the coming year,” (6). It’s not a technology we’re advocating for the small craft-centric business owner yet.
But the idea that you want to grow your business in the direction that your customer base is heading is at the core of predictive analytics, and it’s sound advice. What is available to you to help you make those strategic growth decisions? Here are some steps that you can take to stay as informed as possible about the trends in your segment of the craft industry:
* Trade association membership. Join the trade association that best represents your products and the crafts in which they are used. Membership gives you access to all kinds of industry reports, seminars, and publications, as well as attendance at the big trade shows. Attending a trade show gives you a snapshot of what’s hot at the moment and insight into what’s coming next. Couple that information with what you know about your customers and your path forward becomes clearer.
* Knowledge is power. Research and read! Stay on top of both consumer-oriented and trade-oriented publications in your craft segment. Look at both publishers’ catalogues and self-published titles in the field. Seeing where traditional publishers are investing in print may give you an idea of what trends they feel have staying power, but following designers whose work you admire is a glimpse into the minds who are creating what’s coming next.
* Field research. Think of this as keeping tabs on what’s going on in the minds and hands of your ultimate consumers. How do you accomplish this? Visit or talk to your specialty retailers and find out from them what’s selling. Attend guild meetings, consumer shows, or instructional events and watch and listen to what the participants are excited about. Spend some time on Pinterest and Instagram watching what’s getting Pinned and Favorited. All of these sources work together to give you a moving impression of where consumer interest in your craft segment is headed.
Putting It Together
You are the one who best knows your customers. Tracking their interests, purchases, and preferences creates the foundation on which you can build the future of your business. Supplementing that historical information with industry-specific predictive insights can help you determine how to keep your product line fresh and innovative. When you combine both historic and predictive information about your individual customers’ preferences, you are customizing your marketing messages in a way that drives positive response and helps your business to grow.
At Stitchcraft Marketing, we offer a full portfolio of branding, marketing, and social media services to support crafty businesses. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how we can make magic for your brand.