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Make it Personal – How Successful Personalisation Works in Marketing

Make it Personal – How Successful Personalisation Works in Marketing

Marketing departments are now able to access sales data on an unprecedented scale. This notwithstanding, teams often lack the ability or will to use this data effectively for personalised marketing. We take a look at the basics of personalisation in marketing and present the most creative and inspiring examples of personalised campaigns.

Personal is always better – this everyday wisdom can also be transferred to marketing. According to a study conducted by SmarterHQ in 2019, 72 percent of consumers said they only respond to marketing messages tailored to their specific interests. Even though the advantages of personalisation in targeting customers are obvious and the principles of account-based marketing are gaining momentum in the B2C sector, many marketers are still hesitant. For example, a worldwide study by Ascend2 shows that 63 percent of the marketing influencers surveyed rate data-driven personalisation as the most difficult marketing measure to implement. So what needs to be considered when it comes to personalisation and how can it lead to success?

Personalisation: Benefits and Challenges

Personalised marketing generally describes the approach of delivering individualised content to customers through data collection, analysis and the use of automation technology. This can range from personalised newsletter content and app content to relevant product recommendations in e-commerce. Personal advertising messages generate greater customer satisfaction and consequently more brand loyalty. Companies that spend time and resources treating their customers as unique individuals with specific preferences therefore enjoy a significant advantage over their competitors.

A key element of successful personalisation is data collection and automation using intelligent algorithms. Outdated technology is one of the most common challenges in this area. In addition, companies must be willing to invest increased time and resources to build a successful personalised marketing strategy. Finally, many also shy away from the sensitive topic of secure storage and handling of personal customer data because companies need to act extremely responsibly in this area.

How do I develop a successful personalised marketing strategy?

If marketing departments are aware of these challenges, they can lay the foundations for successful personalised marketing campaigns with investment in the right tools, specialist employees and the development of strict data protection guidelines. Here are the first steps on the personalisation journey:

1. Choose the right technology - Marketers should ensure that their current marketing technology platform is able to handle the data, segmentation and automation that is required to run effective personalised campaigns. Proper personalisation software can help free up time and resources by automating lengthy processes or analysing large datasets.

2. Collect information - With the right technology, marketers can start collecting customer data at every single touchpoint of the buying journey, tracking for example e-mail openings, link clicks, shopping cart data or purchase history. In addition, incentives such as discounts can motivate customers to fill out surveys or forms. The more data collected, the more sophisticated and effective marketers can make their personalised content.

3. Personalise every phase of the digital customer journey – On the basis of this data marketers can create dynamic consumer profiles and personalised campaigns via email, social media, your homepage or third-party ads can begin. The goal is to ensure that personalised messages reach every stage of the digital customer journey – from online search to shopping cart to purchase.

Best practice examples of creative personalisation

How does personalised marketing look like in practice? The good news is, there are no limits to creativity in this area. Let's take a look at several prominent and inspiring marketing campaigns:

Amazon Product Recommendations

One of the best-known examples of personalisation is also one of the most successful. Amazon is considered a pioneer in personalised product recommendations both through emails and on their homepage. The company's own algorithm A9 is becoming more and more specialised so as to better understand the buying habits of customers and to offer an optimal buying experience via the 'you might also like this' approach.

Deutsche Bahn: “No Need to Fly”  

"No need to fly" - Deutsche Bahn
Source: adforum

With their social media campaign "No Need to Fly", Deutsche Bahn offers a particularly intelligent and creative example of personalisation. Firstly, an AI algorithm analysed which destinations customers were looking for on the internet in order to then identify photos of German places that look very similar to these destinations. The compilation of both images with corresponding price comparison was then played out to travel fans on social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, matching their current location (determined by geotargeting) and a correspondingly nearby German destination. The campaign was able to provide convincing and individual arguments for a cheap train ticket as opposed to travel to a distant and expensive location. This not only increased the click-through rate by 850%, but also achieved sales growth of 24%.

Cadbury's personalised Facebook videos

Facebook has been offering interesting opportunities for personalised promotions for several years now and chocolate manufacturer Cadbury made use of these in an Australian advertising campaign. Cadbury’s campaign used information from users' Facebook profiles to match them with one of the brand's new flavours, creating a personalised video with images from the profile. A creative and fun way to inform customers about new product offerings and encourage the sharing of branded social media content with friends.

merci: "Who will you thank?"

"Sags mit merci"
Source: merci

Finally, this unique example shows that personalisation does not necessarily have to be based on data analysis. In the merci campaign "Who will you thank?" customers were able to send a very personal thank you to their loved one by putting their name on a merci chocolate box. This campaign was also creatively staged as part of the music show "The Voice of Germany" on SAT.1 with personalised "Cut Ins". While the show participants performed their song on stage, a pack of merci with the singer’s name and the words "Thank you for the great battle" were displayed on screen for ten seconds.


These best practice examples show how personalisation creates both a unique customer experience and leaves the customer feeling closer to the brand. Brands should note the difference between "We think that you might find this helpful" and "We are watching you" which could leave a negative aftertaste. For this purpose, it can often help to put yourself in the position of the customers and to think: "Do I think that's good? Or is it rather creepy?" As long as brands take stock of their approach in advance, personalisation ultimately creates a win-win situation in which customers benefit from customised information and messages and companies from more brand loyalty and increased sales.