There is a real buzz at the moment around personalisation and as an advocate of social media and marketing innovation I feel compelled to write about it, particularly after attending three fantastic webinars that touched on the subject last week by Marketer Magazine, Event and C&IT Magazine and CIM.

We are all very much aware that as marketers and event professionals we have to be increasingly creative in our communications and marketing efforts particularly due to the rise in tech, digital and social media.

Communications now have to be tailored to different devices as people become increasingly mobile and own multiple devices. It’s reported that 80% of adults now own a smartphone and 47% a tablet. I myself as an apple advocate rely on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook, they are an extension of me and I use all three of them to communicate daily so how does a company wishing to communicate with me manage my preferences?

The first and simple way for me is to address me by my name, if I receive a blanket email with no reference to me personally it’s immediately deleted without reading despite who it is from. The second is make the message easy to read and specific to each of my different devices, I don’t want to read something on my mobile clearly designed for desktop that is so small that it’s impossible to see and then it looks entirely different again on my tablet. Lastly make suggestions based on my history with your organisation and my interests based on the personal brand I am building online, taking a look at my twitter feed and bio and the hashtags I’m using is a great place to start.

But it’s not just me, our customers and audiences are also demanding more curated content according to Alex Timlin, Head of Client Success at Emarsys. They are spoilt in terms of personalisation from other sources and 95% of people out there are now craving good quality content. In one way customers are creating their own content on social media through what they like, share and retweet.

One of the biggest challenges faced by marketers is managing the mass amounts of data that they own, how they can bring their cross channels together whilst creating engaging communications that build greater interaction and a positive image of their brand. Another challenge is the separation of teams with different individuals and suppliers specialising in and being responsible for different areas such as maintaining websites, email marketing and social media and each sending out messages that don’t necessarily intertwine.

Traditional methods of marketing have mainly used demographics to group their customers however, it’s important to remember that our customers are also individuals and don’t all act and behave in the same way. Alex suggested that we should now be aligning our audiences based on what they’re doing and what they’re interested in. It’s time to move away from email blasting, we are no longer in an era of one-message fits all. We need to be learning more about our audiences, their interests, likes and dislikes and also the time of day they will be more open to receiving information rather than simply grouping them into a demographic of age, sex, job title and sector. Also use communications to create a sense of community so that people will go away and talk about it.

Due to the mass amounts of media channels there is now so much content out there that people simply don’t have time to sift through it anymore. Alex even suggested that perhaps we should communicate less frequently but with better content, less is more!

One of those methods could be the use of Kinetic email, as explained by Kim Barlow, Senior Strategic Consultant of Oracle Marketing Cloud. Kinetic email is all about more in-depth content and creating interaction within an email whilst bringing a concept to life. During Kim’s presentation he gave a case study of their client B&Q who were looking to innovate their communications, take a look at the Econsultancy press release about the campaign here.

One thing particularly interesting and that ties in with what I mentioned above is the results from their device test which were as follows; Desktop 22%, Webmail 6%, Smartphone 37% and Tablets 35% – 72% of email opens were via devices, as Kim explained we now have a new generation of tablet and smartphone users!

The results from the campaign were that they increased engagement, there was an 18% increase in open rates overall and it created some fantastic PR coverage for the client!

Kim suggests the kinetic evolution will include the use of 3D and diversity within content as “Kinetic email is all about the content”.

Jez Frampton, Global CEO of Interbrand, during his presentation explained that as marketers and consumers over the years we have moved through a series of ages being, The Age of Identity and The Age of Value into what we now call the Age of Experience and soon to be ‘The Age of You’. The Age of Experience has very much been driven by tech and digital changes and the power has now shifted from brand to consumer and is now back in the hands of our customers.

92% of customers are more likely to buy where there is an experience integrated and we need to be more creative and innovative to move markets forward. Jez also brought up the challenge of segregated team and suggested that we need to create more integrated marketing teams as this is much more likely to create an integrated experience for our customers.

To deliver the ‘Age of You’, personalisation will become more and more important. As individuals we are constantly creating data through our digital footprints and use of social media and also building our own personal brands online. It’s important to also consider the continued growth of the internet and digital and what Jez referred to as “chips in everything”. Very soon we will be able to manage and control all areas of our professional and personal lives at the flick of a button and all from an app on our smartphones whilst we are on the move!

Which moves me on to personalisation at events, Nicholas Tinker, Business Development Executive for Events at CrowdCompass, explained that personalisation at events is a key way to make an attendee feel more valued, that they are more than just a number and drive long term engagement. It’s also important to consider that if your attendees are engaged in an event then they are much more open to providing you with vital feedback for ROI/ROO measurement and so you can make any necessary changes for the future.

What was interesting during the Event & C&IT Magazine webinar ‘The Power of Live’ was the audience poll on the importance of event app functions, the highest result coming in at 43% for personalisation of content as well as 34% for social sharing!

To round off personalisation is simply about making business personal, it’s not about being creepy. Granted not everyone is going to give you their data, but if you communicate with them effectively and they are engaged with you as a brand then give them the option, you may be pleasantly surprised by how many will, particularly as more people start to crave content and messages specific to them as individuals and not as part of a demographic.

I’ll leave you with a few thoughts from last week’s speakers:

“Innovations in email are open to all individuals and not just the big brands” – Kim Barlow, Oracle Marketing Cloud

“You shouldn’t be afraid of innovation” – Alex Timlin, Emarsys

“There are 7 billion brands – US!” – Jez Frampton, Interbrand

“Personalisation is not only expected, but demanded” – Nicholas Tinker, CrowdCompass

Have a Happy Easter and until next time #Eventprofs…