3 strategies to scale your personalization efforts

Personalization: Consumers expect it.1 You know you need to do it. But how do you execute it? As companies grow and their target audiences become wider and more varied, many advertisers struggle to keep communications relevant and compelling.

A recent report by the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) found that less than one-third of leaders polled rated their personalization capabilities as “advanced.”2 It’s not hard to see why. Successfully executing personalization at scale requires an organization to have the ability to access numerous data points, draw insights from them, and use that knowledge to design advertisements, make channel selections, and adjust products and services, pricing, and more in order to appeal to their target audiences. It’s not easy – but when done right, companies can see a 20% increase in marketing efficiency, greater cost savings, a 10-30 percent uplift in revenue and retention, and a long-term positive effect on customer satisfaction.3

It’s time to get your personalization efforts on track. Let’s examine three ways for companies to scale and elevate their current personalization efforts in order to reap the rewards.

1. Use third-party data to increase your knowledge of your target audience

Knowledge is power, and that’s especially true when it comes to advertising. Eighty-eight percent of marketers surveyed by Forbes use data obtained by third parties to enhance their understanding of their customers. Expanding personalization efforts with data elements like location, interests, purchase behavior, preferred channels, and more will help you design and craft messaging that will resonate with consumers.

According to Statista, the U.S. marketing data market was valued at 21.23 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 and is expected to grow to 30.61 billion by the end of 2021. On a global level, Statista predicts the market will grow from 34.6 to 52.3 billion,4 suggesting that companies that aren’t spending in this area will be left behind. Partnering with third-party data providers, like Data Axle, allows you to use data gathered from various platforms, apps, and websites to supercharge your personalization efforts. These partners operate in a privacy-compliant way to unlock insights from consumer contact, demographic, psychographic, and business data that are uniquely relevant to your company’s audiences and needs.

Brand example: Crate & Barrel uses life event data to acquire new customers

When it comes to creating relevant messaging, nothing is more personal than tailoring products based on major life events. A life event is a milestone in a consumer’s life that affects their needs and purchase behaviors. Some of these important milestones include having children, moving, getting married, buying a home, and entering or graduating college. Catching consumers on the brink of a life event is a critical time for brands to connect with those people and forge a long-lasting relationship during a time of significant change.

Crate & Barrel used new mover data to target shoppers that recently moved into a new home. The direct mail campaign offered unique coupons for new movers. Once consumers entered their email to redeem the coupon, Crate & Barrel sent them a personalized series of emails with content geared towards new movers, including tips for selecting furniture that fits their new space, housewarming party entertaining ideas, and decorating tips.

2. Use personas, segments, and models to increase engagement

Personas and segmenting are powerful personalization tools in an advertiser’s toolbox. Let’s take a more in-depth look:

  • Personas: 93% of companies that reported exceeding their lead and revenue goals segment their database by buyer persona.5 Personas are modeled on qualitative and quantitative data and are built around the different ways in which people might use a brand, site or product. Once those different consumer use cases are well understood, companies can craft marketing communications that are customized to each persona. Email, display, and website copy created specifically for each persona can drive more conversions and increase marketing ROI.
  • Segmenting: Instead of launching one-size-fits-all campaigns to consumers, you can use data to identify desirable audience segments based on behaviors and preferences and tailor campaigns accordingly. A Mailchimp survey found that segmented campaigns had open rates 14.31 percent higher than non-segmented campaigns. They also saw a 101 percent increase in clicks over non-segmented campaigns, while also noting lower bounce rates, unsubscribes, and incidences of spam reporting.6

Brand example: Ally Bank segments by age to better personalize content and increase engagement

Using smart tools and dynamic content modules, financial institutions can deliver the right content to their customers as they reach certain milestones – like buying their first car or home, saving for their children’s college tuition, or preparing for retirement. Aligning messaging with known milestones is important when it comes to communicating an understanding of your customers and prospects. After all, if you’re targeting city-dwelling college students with content about buying their first house, for example, you might come across as out of touch with their needs.

Ally Bank, the completely online banking service, personalizes their campaigns by age. For example, the company sends targeted emails to younger users to teach them about the importance of investing aggressively and early as they begin their careers.

3. Leverage design tactics to drive personalization at scale

It’s no surprise that different types of people are drawn to the same products. These differences should be recognized when creating compelling creative designed to drive prospects down the funnel. Good creative is aesthetically pleasing to your audience, uses language that resonates with them, and is easy for them to navigate. Personalizing creative and emphasizing a clear ‘call-to-action’ will lead to increased engagement and conversions.

Brand example: A leading health and nutrition chain increases email creative personalization to reduce attrition

Data Axle worked with a leading health chain to reduce subscriber attrition and increase conversion rates for their email marketing program. With the help of data enhancement, Data Axle matched demographic information to the brand’s subscriber base and identified common attributes of users who unsubscribed vs. those who clicked. This analysis found that unsubscribe rates were highest among older men and younger women.

To capitalize on these findings, the retailer developed and tested custom creative informed by gender and age for each of these subscriber segments. The creative aimed toward each audience had different messaging, images, and CTAs. For example, the creative for men used eye-catching bold, all-caps tag lines to grab attention. The copy itself used persuasive words, such as “top-rated” and “must haves.” The ads targeting toward the female audience used a less aggressive tone and encouraged them to celebrate their strength. The results were exactly what the brand hoped – a lower unsubscribe rate and more-engaged audiences.

Conclusion: Data is giving marketers the power to personalize in more ways than ever before. With the right data strategy, companies can enhance and transform their knowledge of their customer base into personalized communications that will drive acquisition, retention, and long-term customer satisfaction.


For more real-world examples of companies that successful scaled their personalization efforts, check out our recent webinar:


The 80/20 rule: how to find (and use) data that makes a difference

Learn how to discover new data attributes that will help you target and personalize your campaigns and increase performance. You’ll see real-life examples from some of our favorite clients!
Natasia Langfelder
Content Marketing Manager

As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.