15 Times Marketers Won with Personalization


By now, most of us are familiar with the “Amazon” experience. It goes something like this: We realize we need something, log in to the website or mobile app, search for the item we need, browse through thousands of colors, models, brands, etc.– and with the click of a button, that thing we needed is suddenly on the way to our front door.

This scenario not only illustrates the ease of the modern buyer’s cycle but also, the variety of options that are now available to the average consumer. Although the ever-widening range of products and options makes for a superior buying experience, it’s suddenly become much more difficult for companies to compete with one another.

In an effort to stand out and cut through the onslaught of marketing messages consumers are exposed to each day, marketers are shifting more towards hyper-personalization– and for good reason. Consider these statistics:

  • Over 78% of consumers will only engage offers if they have been personalized to their previous engagements with the brand.
  • 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.
  • 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, OR knows their purchase history.

Clearly, the numbers speak for themselves. If you’re not personalizing your marketing initiatives, you’re likely missing out on a large segment of your target audience. But, as consumers evolve so must our marketing tactics. It’s no longer enough to use a recipient’s name in an email subject line and call it a day. Instead, modern marketers must get creative with their personalization efforts, move beyond age-old gimmicks, and truly add value to the buyer’s experience.

Today we look at some of our favorite examples of personalized marketing. Let’s get into it!

1. GrubHub’s Weather Alerts
GrubHub, a popular food delivery app, has perfected the art of personalization with their automated weather alerts. Here’s how it works– every time rain is in the forecast for a given location, GrubHub sends out marketing emails like the one seen here. The subject line reads: Hey Molly, it looks like rain in Brighton!

If we had to guess, we’d say GrubHub noticed a correlation between rain and delivery rates. Thus, the email reads: Stay dry with delicious delivery! No need to wet your boots. Stay in and let great local foods come to you!

Quick Tip: Analyze customer behavior, buying trends, and product usage to identify factors that impact a customer’s decision to make a purchase. Then, formulate campaigns to target users when these particular factors are in play. Remember, timing is everything!

2. Poshmark’s Push Notifications
Poshmark is an app used to sell and buy second-hand clothing. Because the company takes a small fee from each sale, they rely on users to both sell and buy clothing to earn revenue. In an effort to keep this cycle going, Poshmark provides push notifications to users whenever something they’ve bookmarked becomes less expensive. This does two things: It encourages sellers to regularly lower the prices of the items in their closet and it makes buyers more likely to purchase.

Quick Tip: Use purchase history or online behavior data to send personalized push notifications. Reserve push notifications for highly personalized offers or discounts that your users will genuinely care about. If you send too many push notifications, or your push notifications offer very little value, your users will disable them.

3. Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” Campaign
In an effort to attract more millennial buyers, Coca Cola launched their “Share a Coke” campaign. This campaign involved printing the most popular millennial first names on their Coke and Diet Coke packaging. After this experiment proved to be a success, Coca Cola moved on to add last names, places, and more. Soon, the campaign expanded beyond the intended audience and attracted more buyers across multiple demographics.

Quick Tip: Your efforts to personalize your marketing materials should always be inclusive rather than exclusive. The idea isn’t to leave people out, it’s to offer unique products and services that a wide variety of people can relate to or find interesting.

4. Marketo’s Invitation to their Marketing Nation Summit
Why stop at using a customer’s name in the subject line of an email? Our next example from Marketo takes this tactic one step further in an effort to generate registrations to an upcoming event. Here’s what Marketo did: Using the conference location as their inspiration, Marketo distributed customized video invitations featuring each recipient’s name in the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. This fun personalization tactic is not only eye-catching but it also conveys the effort Marketo is willing to put into their event. Take a look!

Quick Tip: Use personalization to get your foot in the door. Customers and prospects are much more likely to click on and watch a video that has their name in the thumbnail image. Therefore, it’s important to use this tactic wisely. Consider the timing and placement of your personalization. After all, what good would this tactic be if, for example, Marketo had used this image as the end card rather than the thumbnail?

5. Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium Lookalike Campaign
After membership numbers dipped, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium conducted research to pinpoint the most common zip codes among current membership holders. Then, they targeted those locations with a campaign containing a discount code– leading to a 13% increase in memberships in Q1 alone (source).

Quick Tip: Analyze your existing customer base to target lookalike audiences. To do so, compile all customer data and look for trends within specific data points– age, location, gender, level of education, job title, etc.

6. Netflix Recommendations
As you’re probably aware, Netflix is well-known for its tailored viewing recommendations– providing options each viewer is most likely to be interested in. But even more impressive is something you might not know about: Netflix also uses an algorithm to display personalized thumbnails for each show or movie.

Here’s a brief summary of how it works: An algorithm analyzes user behavior to serve images and content most likely to entice that particular person. This level of personalization not only keeps visitors engaged and using their service longer, but it also makes the case for an upsell. Think about it: By paying a negligible amount more each month, users who share an account can create their own profiles and receive better, more targeted recommendations. So, if one user likes romcoms and their significant other prefers documentaries, Netflix can distinguish between the two users and keep their recommendations isolated.

Quick Tip: Offer personalized experiences that truly add value to your product or services. If you personalize for the sake of personalization, your customers will have little incentive to engage, upgrade, or make an initial purchase.

7. Spotify’s Discover Weekly Playlist
Spotify, a popular music-streaming app, is no stranger to personalized marketing. They run annual year-in-review campaigns that allow users to see what they listened to throughout the year. But the most innovative example is the app’s Discover Weekly playlist– a playlist curated by a complex algorithm for each individual user. The algorithm selects music based on individual user behavior and overall popularity, then adds only the songs a user has never listened to before to their personalized Discover Weekly playlist.

Quick Tip: Be sure to cross-reference user behavior before launching any kind of personalized marketing campaign. Think about how annoying it would be if songs you listen to regularly appear in your Discover Weekly playlist. The only thing worse than generic marketing is poorly personalized marketing.

8. Ask for Data like DoggyLoot
In this example, DoggyLoot, a company that sells dog products, facilitates efficiency through personalization. Here’s how it works: DoggyLoot asks users to provide specific details about their pets, as pictured below. Then, they eliminate irrelevant offers and products to get customers in and out more quickly– with the products they want.

Not only does this tactic provide a more streamlined buying experience, but it also gives users a reason to log in and provide their contact information. Thus, giving DoggyLoot even more ways to interact with visitors.

Quick Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask customers for more information. Sure, forms and questions might slow users down in the short term. But often, your customers will be willing to take a few minutes to provide details about themselves if it makes each future interaction more seamless.

9. Target’s Expecting Parents Campaign
This next example, though genius, crosses the line for some people. Target started a campaign after making the realization that expectant parents didn’t traditionally view Target as a major retailer of baby supplies. As a result, they set out to analyze customer data and buying behaviors to accurately predict the likelihood of a buyer to become pregnant in the near future.

Quick Tip: Although opinions may vary about the invasiveness of this last example, there’s no arguing that, sometimes, personalization can go too far. So, before launching your next campaign, take a step back and consider how you, as a customer, would feel if the roles were reversed.

10. EasyJet’s 20th Anniversary Campaign
To commemorate their 20th anniversary, EasyJet launched an email campaign using customer data to essentially tell each customer their individual story. Each email pointed out the different locations each recipient had flown to and also recommended future destinations– all in a story-like format. Thus, EasyJet was able to form an emotional bond with each customer and keep their brand top of mind for future flights.

Quick Tip: Personalization and storytelling go hand in hand. Use customer data in your marketing initiatives to paint a vivid picture for your customers. Not only does this allow your customers and prospects to envision themselves using your product, but it also helps facilitate a deeper bond with your brand or company.

11. Grammarly’s Weekly Writing Updates
Grammarly, a company offering a variety of grammar and writing tools, uses personalization to gamify the use of their tools. Here’s how: Each week, Grammarly sends an automated email to users that resembles something of a progress report. The email provides statistics and numbers regarding word usage, vocabulary, errors, and more– ultimately ranking users among their peers.

This works for several reasons: People are often curious about how much work they’ve done, how much they’ve improved, and how they stack up to others. High numbers and rankings will instill a sense of pride in users– thus encouraging them to continue using the product. Low numbers serve as a reminder to log in and use the product more often as a means to improve user results.

Quick Tip: Package product usage data in a way that encourages engagement. Offer small perks, discounts, or rewards for hitting certain milestones.

12. Todoist’s Year in Review
Todoist is a productivity and organization tool that offers features for individuals and teams. Similar to Grammarly’s Weekly Writing Report, Todoist launched a year-in-review campaign to commemorate each individual user’s achievements. Depending on how “productive” a user was, they were awarded a small token of appreciation. Most importantly however, Todoist’s year in review provided reports on each user’s productivity– which contain valuable insight into the way that particular user works.

Quick Tip: Provide personalized recommendations that allow each user to engage with your products more effectively. In some instances, recommendations may include new products, but in other cases, they might be tooltips, emails, or in-product notifications triggered by user behavior. In this example, Todoist provided insight into the time-of-day when a user is most productive. As a result, the recipient might use Todoist to schedule more pressing or urgent tasks around 10 am.

13. ZoomInfo’s Cookie Campaign
In an effort to attract media and industry experts to their annual Growth Acceleration Summit, ZoomInfo leveraged both personalization and influencer marketing. Here’s how it worked: The team identified a group of targeted sales professionals, marketers, and members of the media. Then, ZoomInfo implemented a direct mail initiative containing a package of cookies, personalized with an image of each recipient.

This tactic worked in two ways.Yes, some of the recipients attended the event. But, more importantly, nearly all of the recipients took to social media to show off their personalized snack– thus spreading the word about the Growth Acceleration Summit to their own networks of qualified attendees.

Quick Tip: Use personalization to create “instagrammable moments”– i.e. create something visually appealing that your audience, your influencers, or even the general public can’t help but share online.

14. Nordstrom integrates digital with brick and mortar.
With the onslaught of online influencers and fashion blogs, Nordstrom was able to transform the way people shopped by integrating their online experience with their in-store experience. Rather than browsing through racks of clothing, the modern customer is more likely to see an item online and either look for it in store or order it online. But, clearly, there can be buyer drop off when a product isn’t linked or isn’t in stock at a person’s local store.

To bridge this gap, Nordstrom was one of the first brands to link their products on Instagram, twitter, and Facebook. Not only that, but the company closely monitors pinterest and instagram to ensure they stock stores with the most shared merchandise.

Quick Tip: Provide multiple ways to make a purchase. Some people prefer browsing in store, some people only shop online. The only way to reach all of these people is to provide multiple ways to make a purchase. For example, include a list of local stores that carry a product if you sell out online. Or, make it easy for in-store customers to order a different size or color online while still in the dressing room. The goal is to make the process simple and to also catch people when they’re most ready to make a purchase.

15. Amazon’s Recommended Products
We opened today’s blog post with a reference to Amazon for a reason– and that’s because if anyone knows personalized marketing, it’s Amazon. The retail giant that is Amazon boasts unprecedented growth year after year– a significant portion of that growth due to their recommendation engine.

Amazon incorporates personalized recommendations throughout the entire buying journey. To name just a few types of recommendations the company employs:

  • “Frequently bought together” products suggestions
  • “Recently viewed items”
  • “Customers who bought this item also bought…”
  • A customized page of recommendations that always lives in the navigation bar– For example, my recommendation page highlights my affinity for snacks, bad reality TV, colorful office supplies, self-help audiobooks, and fake eyelashes– don’t judge.

You get the idea. Amazon has seamlessly integrated personalized recommendations into the buyer’s journey in a way most companies have yet to master.

Quick Tip: Go multi-channel with your personalization efforts. Don’t keep recommendations sequestered to just one channel. Instead use retargeting, email, social media, on-site, and other avenues to expose your prospects to new and exciting products wherever they go.

Key Takeaways About Personalized Marketing
There’s no question about it, customers expect a personalized, relevant, efficient experience from the companies they choose to do business with. Yet, it’s not always easy to get personalization right. The process requires comprehensive customer data, continual testing, and creativity– all of which will pay off in the long run. In fact, 79% of organizations that exceeded revenue goals have a documented personalization strategy. So, what are you waiting for?

About the author: Molly Clarke is a Senior Marketing Manager at ZoomInfo, a leading sales intelligence provider that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. Molly writes for ZoomInfo’s B2B blog on topics related to B2B growth and success.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *