Marketing Personalization. Welcome to the Future.

I finally got around to watching Minority Report this weekend. I don’t know how I missed it in 2002. I enjoyed the screen adaptation of Phillip Dick’s rendition of the future in the sci-fi movies starring Tom Cruise. In one scene, hero John Andersen is bombarded with personalized advertising while walking through a public hall:

While I don’t believe the literal future as presented in the movie, I do believe that marketing personalization is one of the trends to watch in education marketing this year.

In a recent Inc. Magazine article entitled Why Teens Are the Most Elusive and Valuable Customers in Tech, journalist Issie Lapowsky interviewed her 15 year-old cousin about the draw of Snapchat. Her answer pinpoints the personalization issue:

“[Snapchat is] more instantaneous and personalized. I have over 1,000 Facebook friends, so most of the time, I don’t really care about looking through my feed. With Snapchat, I know everyone I’m friends with personally, so looking at their stories is funny/interesting to me.”

As early as 1936, Dale Carnegie noted the importance of personalization in his classic How to Win Friends and Influence People:

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

As reported in Forbes, Adobe Chief Marketing Officer Ann Lewnes surveyed business marketing officers regarding their understanding of important marketing trends. The vast majority of those surveyed stated that marketing personalization was the highest priority for their future marketing efforts.

If business recognizes the need, education must embrace it as well.

6 Ways to Use Marketing Personalization

Marketing Personalization is more than "Hey You"Today’s digital technology provides means to marketing personalization that were unthinkable just a few years ago. From print technologies to digital options, here are a few to consider:

Email

In Everybody Writes, author Ann Handley shares data from a Retention Science report that research revealed open rates increase 2.6% by simply using the recipient’s name in the subject line. Other data has shown that carrying the personalization into the email body as well as landing pages increases engagement as well. Personalization is a critical part of Inbound Marketing as we discussed in trend 3.

Data Variable Printing

Printers have offered data variable printing for several years. The concept is to combine a database file with a digital printer, thus enabling each piece of collateral to be uniquely targeted to the recipient. Think beyond the usual “your name here” concept and look for ways to bring in other known data to enhance the marketing: know the major a student in which a student is interested? Show pictures of that. See other tips for combining digital and print marketing in this post.

Personalized URLs

Printers are also providing personalized URLs (PURLs) as part of the data variable printing. In these PURLs, the unique short-code is provided on the collateral to drive traffic to a website. The website uses the same database to build unique web pages for the individual.

Personalized Website Content

More inbound marketing programs are providing options for personalizing the web experience without requiring logging into a PURL. This allows you to add personalized messaging, photos, and other known information subtly into your website for your returning visitors.

Geolocation

Geolocation comes in various forms. Pay per click advertising allows personalization through demographic targeting. IP targeting advertising is also gaining traction allowing you to target individuals based upon IP addresses and geolocation. But you can also personalize content based upon geolocation.

I recently reviewed a demo from GeoFli, a Montana-based startup coming out of the education marketing space. Their solution provides options to “Personalize your website. Increase time-on-site, decrease bounce rate and improve on-page conversions.” Very impressive ways to personalize the content even before you know your recipient.

Consider: your adult, RN-BSN online program is not available in all states. You can create separate messaging for those individuals coming from the non-qualified states and provide them a different web experience.

Or, say your school will be attending a college fair in a particular location. Individuals in that location will see additional content driving them to the college fair that others will not see. Pretty slick.

NFC

As more phones begin to use NFC (near field communication) more options will start to look like the example from Minority Report. NFC allows direct communication (through text messaging today) when a recipient is within range of an NFC device.

An application for schools: imagine that a user arrives on campus and parks in the visitor lot. They immediately receive a text from the admissions office welcoming them to campus with a link providing a detailed Google Map from the parking lot to the visitors center. This technology can provide that level of personalization prior to even the first handshake.

Marketing Personalization You Can Do Today.

Don’t lament that personalization is out of reach due to budget or resources. Begin marketing personalization today with no technology.

  • Campus Tours
    Ask questions prior to the school visit to understand the families needs and craft a unique experience for them. Start with instructing your tour guides to use first names and other facts which they have been briefed.
  • Ask Questions
    Have your team get in the habit of asking questions and learning more. Move beyond the information beyond the inquiry card to really learn about the individual.
  • Hand-Written Thank You Notes
    If you don’t already do it, start writing personalized notes to your prospects. Thank you notes, birthday cards, and notes of congratulations are a way to introduce marketing personalization in a low-tech way.
  • Remember Names
    Train your staff to remember names and faces and to use names frequently. According to John Yeager, writing for Positive Psychology News Daily, the power of a positive greeting goes far:

    The positive salutation embraces the three pathways to happiness: pleasure, engagement and meaning. First, authentically exchanging greetings is, more often than not, an enjoyable process and normally brings a smile to one’s face. Second, communicating verbally, visually and kinesthetically can be quite engaging – a sense of flow. The process of greeting or tendering a “good bye” by saying someone’s name, paired with a handshake or pat on the shoulder, can elicit a slight visceral response in self and others. This audio, visual and kinesthetic event can be very powerful and create a brief, yet engaged interaction. Of course, one must know which of the senses are most comfortable to elicit in others. I am attentive to the various cultural nuances of gestures, eye contact and touching, and hope that people find their way to greet in a comfortable and engaging manner. Third, an authentic interchange says: “You matter.”

In what ways are you using marketing personalization in your efforts? Leave a comment below.

Image by Yury Zap via Adobe Stock