What Is Personalized Marketing? Top Strategies and Examples

By Drift

Today’s top marketers are creative, customer-centric, and data-driven. Personalized marketing campaigns allow us to be all three at the same time.

If you look around, there are so many different flavors to personalization, each with its own set of benefits. You might use a customer’s email activity to send personalized offers instead of just a generic newsletter. Or you might automagically alter the content on your website to speak directly to your buyer.

But these little tricks aren’t just for show. Personalized marketing offers a ton of promise: lower customer acquisition costs, higher return on investment (ROI), and happier customers.

In this expert guide, we dive into the benefits of personalization, the top strategies to employ, and how to create your own personalized marketing plan. Plus, we provide plenty of aspirational examples.

Ready to learn? Let’s get started ⚡️

What Is Personalized Marketing?

Personalized marketing is the practice of using customer and behavioral data to target new and existing customers with relevant resources and offers. This type of marketing spans a variety of channels, including paid advertising, content marketing, and Conversational Marketing.

Today, we live in a world of data. Personalization is one of the best ways for marketers to put the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated every day to good use. Thus, personalized marketing represents all of the strategies and campaigns marketers customize using the data generated by website activity, ad clicks, purchases, email opens, and every other trackable behavior.

Benefits of Personalized Marketing

It’s simple: Customers want personalization. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer Report:

  • 73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.
  • 62% expect companies to anticipate their needs.
  • 56% expect offers to always be personalized.

All of these numbers are up from two years ago, likely because the rapid digitization sparked by COVID-19 has increased the demand for personalized experiences.

Not to mention that businesses have a lot to gain by satisfying these customer demands. The top benefits of marketing personalization include:

  • Increased marketing ROI: By showing customers the right marketing messages at the right times, businesses can reduce their customer acquisition costs and boost ROI. 97% of marketers using personalization have reported a measurably positive impact on ROI.
  • More relevant experiences for customers: With personalized marketing, customers are presented with the offers, resources, and experiences that best match their needs. This not only boosts results for companies but also improves customer satisfaction and negates the frustration customers feel when they struggle to find relevant information and products.
  • Shorter buying cycles: When customers can easily access relevant resources, they can say “yes” to your products and services faster. B2B companies can use marketing personalization to shave months off their average buying cycle.
  • Improved customer loyalty: In 2022, the number of consumers who said they would abandon a brand if they don’t offer personalized experiences jumped to 62% — up from 20% in 2021. 78% of consumers also said they were more likely to make repeat purchases from brands that utilize personalization. Clearly, personalization has a growing impact on loyalty — the more personalized the experiences, the more customers can get their needs met and connect with brands more deeply.

Salesforce Research Graphic About Expectations for Personalization

Source: State of the Connected Customer Report

Marketing Personalization Strategies

With great potential come great challenges. Given that 57% of marketing and sales leaders aren’t satisfied with their team’s personalization efforts, it’s crucial that your personalization is strategic.

These strategies can help you apply personalization to your marketing for measurable results.

1. Website Personalization

Website personalization is one of the most common strategies for catering to your audience. That’s because your website is your home base — it’s where potential and current customers come to interact with you.

You can use personalization tools to change multiple website elements to cater to specific buyers. This includes images, copy, pop-ups, and the products or resources offered.

In addition, website personalization is a growing field. There are more software tools coming onto the market each day that can help refine the way you alter your website based on customer activity. So, always be on the lookout for new tools that cater to your industry.

2. Conversational Marketing

Conversational Marketing leverages chatbot sequences and live chat interactions so you can hold real-time conversations with your audience. This makes it easy to cater the buying experience to each individual — whether that’s by using personalization to welcome your customers by name or asking (and answering) questions specific to them.

Through these conversations, you will be able to deliver relevant ebooks and other resources, point buyers to the appropriate product pages, route current customers to support, and quickly connect qualified leads and target accounts with sales.

All-in-all, Conversational Marketing drives a faster experience that buyers enjoy. In fact, 57% of buyers say that getting quick, detailed, and expert answers to their questions is their favorite thing about engaging with a Conversational Marketing solution.

3. Email Personalization

Email personalization keeps your emails from dying a slow, pitiful death in your audience’s inboxes. That’s because email campaigns with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, while segmented campaigns have garnered a 760% increase in revenue.

Here, the best way to get started is to use customer data and previous email activity to segment your emails. For instance, one segment might be all of your leads who downloaded your annual report and who have opened at least two of your emails over the past month. Then, you can tailor your copy to address their interests and add the lead’s name and job title to personalize the email.

You can also personalize your outreach emails and event invitations to target accounts — not only by addressing them by their first name and company name — but also incorporating whatever information you can discover about their challenges and goals. (Hint: Job listings are an excellent way to discover a company’s current priorities and what they want to spend money on.)

4. SMS Personalization

Over the next few years, the market for SMS marketing tools and services is predicted to grow at a rate of 23%. Clearly, marketers are getting on board.

To make sure you’re not falling behind and that your SMS campaigns have the best results, personalize your messages with customer information, such as their name or the date they became a customer.

And make sure you use segmentation. Knowing your leads and customers’ previous purchase behavior and website activity can help you set up automated SMS sequences to drive new purchases.

5. Customer Journey Automation

In our 2022 State of Marketing and Sales AI Report, we found that the most common reason marketers adopted AI was to personalize consumer experiences at scale, with 41% of marketers reporting this is their best AI achievement to date.

Customer journey automation mixes AI with a variety of other strategies on this list, such as website, email, and SMS personalization, to automatically craft a cohesive buying experience and guide customers through it. With automation, every new behavior unlocks the next resource or experience that is most relevant to the buyer.

6. Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) is similar to customer journey marketing but different in that you’re targeting an entire account (a company or organization), rather than an individual. Either way, the point is to go all in to convert that buyer.

As such, personalized marketing goes hand in hand with ABM. Marketers and sellers use personalization in outreach, lead nurturing, event invitations, website pages, chatbot sequences, and more to draw in and convert that target account. With the time and attention that marketers spend on personalizing ABM campaigns, it’s unsurprising that 87% of marketers say that ABM campaigns outperform generic ones.

Want to become an expert at ABM? Check out our ABM Playbook: Personalization That Actually Feels Personal, written in partnership with experts that do ABM every day.

7. Advertising That Matches Intent

When you serve the right ads to the right people, you can help them progress through the buying process and make more informed decisions. Depending on the pay-per-click (PPC) or social advertising platform you use, you can leverage a variety of data for personalization. This includes:

  • Buying stage
  • Search activity
  • Interests and challenges
  • Website activity
  • Email or customer relationship management (CRM) activity

You can incorporate advertising in your customer journey automation so that customers are shown ads that correspond to their behavior. For example, if they’ve interacted with a variety of mid-funnel content, you can serve up ads designed to seal the deal, such as buyers’ guides, pricing comparison information, and implementation guides to help ease any concerns.

8. Product Recommendations

Personalization can also be used to recommend specific products on your website, as well as through email marketing campaigns and ads. Ecommerce stores often use browsing and purchase behavior to recommend relevant products that match a person’s interests or the items they’ve already purchased.

9. Personalized Customer Retention Campaigns

Personalized marketing isn’t just great for attracting new customers — it’s also excellent for retention campaigns. For example, you can send personalized email reminders when customers need to repurchase a product (like shampoo or laundry detergent).

B2B companies are known for providing a variety of personalized experiences to their customers, such as one-to-one relationships with customer success managers, invitations to trainings and demos, and personalized emails with resources to help them get better results. All of this helps to improve customer loyalty and retention.

How to Create a Personalized Marketing Strategy

Ready to implement personalization to make your marketing more successful? Follow these five steps.

1. Assemble the Right Team

The first step is to make sure you have the right team to get your personalization campaign off the ground. Whether you’re working with internal collaborators, contractors, or a mix of both, you’ll need:

  • Marketing ops managers who are experts in personalization technology and can recommend the right software for your business
  • Auditors who can audit your current digital experiences for personalization opportunities
  • Conversational marketers that are ready to take over chatbot conversations when leads and customers need additional help
  • Campaign designers who know how to craft new personalized campaigns and automation sequences
  • Senior leaders who have been bought in to help you prioritize work and make new hires as needed

With all of these players involved, keep in mind that the personalization software you choose should be able to provide extensive training and implementation support.

2. Strategize the Best Opportunities for Personalization

Next, it’s time to strategize your approach to personalization. Because there are so many opportunities you can tackle, it’s best to think in phases.

For example, you might prioritize website personalization and Conversational Marketing in phase one and tackle email personalization in phase two. Or, you might plan to tackle target account personalization in phase one and work on personalization for the rest of your audience in phase two.

Once you’ve identified the goals and priorities for your first project, audit your current experiences — your web pages, emails, ads, and other digital content — and list out places where you can improve. Don’t forget to audit your competitors to see where they might be personalizing certain experiences so you can learn from their approach.

3. Implement Personalized Marketing Tools

It’s impossible to personalize your marketing without the right tools. Make sure you’re choosing software that will help you tackle your current personalization projects and the ones you have planned for the coming months.

To select the right tech, rely on your team’s experience, read case studies, and explore the platform’s learning materials. The more help and resources the company offers upfront, the more likely it is that you will receive a stellar implementation experience behind the scenes.

4. Securely Collect Data for Personalization

The rewards of personalization come with data risks. To balance out those risks, craft a data policy and share it with your customers, only gather the data you need, and comply with regulations in the territories where you do business.

This all comes back to your tech. The personalization software that you choose should be compliant with various data management regulations and best practices (like GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and SOC 2). When your platforms are compliant, you’ll have less to worry about when it comes to your own compliance because the software you use should have guardrails and best practices built in.

To stay up to date on the changing landscape of data collection, learn more about what you can do to prepare for when third-party cookies go away.

5. Launch and Optimize

Now it’s time to launch those personalized marketing campaigns. Use customers’ names on your web pages and chatbots, set up emails to trigger based on purchase behavior, or deliver remarketing ads based on lead activity.

No matter what campaigns you run, what’s important is that you don’t end your work after the launch. Test your messaging, offers, behavioral triggers, and other uses of customer data to make sure you’re getting the best results. Many personalization platforms allow you to set up A/B testing so you can continually optimize your experience.

Personalized Marketing Examples

It’s time to bring on the inspo. Here are six personalized marketing examples to help spark ideas for your own channels and campaigns.

1. Drift’s Website Personalization

At Drift, we get to drink our own champagne. For example, our Conversational Marketing software allows us to personalize our homepage to offer a unique message to returning leads. These site visitors are greeted with a welcome message that starts with “Nice to see you again!” and encourages them to sign up for a demo.

Our customized chatbot in the corner also asks if the site visitor is ready to get started with Drift.

After you engage with the chatbot, it asks what is motivating you to consider Drift. By mimicking the sorts of questions that sales reps ask, we drive buyers down the funnel faster which increases demo requests and purchases.

By implementing personalized messaging, we’ve seen our own conversion rates go up by 100%.

2. Software Advice’s Bottom-of-Funnel Comparison Guides

Software Advice is a software reviewing platform with much of their revenue coming from affiliate commissions and sponsorships. They use interest and intent data to serve up LinkedIn ads for software buyer guides based on the type of software the person is considering.

Their comparison and pricing guide is a perfect example of the type of content that you want to deliver to buyers in the middle of the funnel. Like in this example, the buyer already knows what legal management software is. Now they just need to know which one to choose.

3. Fashion Nova’s Product Recommendations

Ecommerce store Fashion Nova excels at product recommendations. On each product page, they have two sections for product recommendations — “You Might Like” and “Recommended for You.”

Ecommerce companies use previous browsing history as well as data on items that are frequently purchased together to algorithmically present recommendations specific to each customer. By showcasing similar or related products, Fashion Nova can easily increase cart value.

4. Grammarly’s Weekly Writing Updates

Grammarly adds gamification to their email strategy for current users by sending a weekly update showing the user how their writing prowess stacks up to other users.

This high level of personalization helps Grammarly retain users by showing them their progress, congratulating them on their successes, and driving home the fact that Grammarly is always there to help perfect their writing. This serves as a great reminder of the product’s value so that users are more likely to stick around.

5. Tenable’s Conversational Marketing Sequences

Tenable uses Conversational Marketing to cater to buyers who crave a self-serve experience. For example, on the product page for Tenable.cs, their cloud security solution, the chatbot asks if you need help choosing the right product.

If you ask to be pointed in the right direction, Tenable’s chatbot then offers a variety of options, such as Exposure Management and Vulnerability Assessment.

From there, users can select the right option for them, and the journey continues. This creates instantly personalized experiences that are a million times faster than forcing users to sort through all your site content. And the results are impressive: With Conversational Marketing, Tenable has driven qualified leads 3x faster and doubled their conversion rates.

6. Cinemark’s Reminders

When users sign up for a Cinemark account, they can add movies to their watchlist and receive an email notification as soon as it’s possible to buy tickets. For users, this is a great way to make sure they can get excellent seats, even on opening weekends.

For marketers, this is a great reminder to think outside the box. Like Cinemark, how can you personalize marketing and purchase experiences using your customers’ self-selected data? How can you make it easy for customers to raise their hands and tell you what they want? When you collect and use that kind of data in your campaigns, you can deliver personalized experiences your customers will love.

How Effective Is Personalized Marketing?

Personalized marketing is extremely effective. In fact, it’s the secret recipe to making any marketing channel or strategy more successful.

Want higher engagement on your email campaigns? Set up behavior-based triggers for all sorts of resources and offers — instead of blasting everyone with the same messages at irrelevant times. Or want to increase leads from your website? Personalize your webpage content and Conversational Marketing flows so customers can find exactly what they’re looking for.

Through all of these adjustments, personalization makes it easy for your buyers to fall in love with your brand, grow to trust you with their business, and (eventually) become repeat buyers.

Using Drift for Personalized Marketing

When you combine authenticity with personalization, you can make your customers feel truly special and build relationships that last. A thought-out personalized marketing strategy will give you the framework for making adjustments that will have a big impact on your customers and your revenue.

But if you want to take those strategies to new heights, you’re going to need the right tools.

Drift makes it easy to personalize your marketing so you can grab your buyers’ attention and give them an experience that stands out. Our Conversational Marketing solution allows you to customize conversations to get buyers to sales faster. What’s more, with our Conversation Cloud platform, you can make the most of your marketing personalization by continuing to deliver personalized sales and customer service experiences.

But don’t just take our word for it. Check out how Proofpoint used Drift to drive a 147% increase in website leads and 628% increase in pipeline from chat, and how and how Qualtrics saw a 150% lift in email capture rate with personalized playbooks.

Need more? Learn about personalized marketing with Drift in our Account-Based Personalization Playbook or get a demo to see it for yourself.