Marketers say we are entering a “new era” in marketing. Before the internet, ‘mass marketing’ – reaching the most people possible – was the aspiration of a lot of businesses. Now we have the internet, reaching the most people possible is very easy; so easy it has become anathema to the consumer. They are simply overloaded.
So mass marketing is being replaced by ‘engagement’ or persona marketing. It’s not totally the reverse: a marketing campaign can still reach the most people possible, but at the same time appeal to each individual, based on the information the marketers have.
Persona marketing, in the words of Sanjay Dholakia, CMO of US-digital marketing firm Marketo, means getting down to the “granularity” of the consumer. “It’s the ability to list and respond and create a dialogue; to create a relationship in every transaction, so that next time we do it better,” he says.
The example he provides is Amazon. Anyone with an Amazon account – that is, most people – will have seen how Amazon relies on a mixture of algorithms which use your purchase information and past search terms to offer you up more relevant products. Sometimes it fails but, as Dholakia says: “It’s a journey” for marketing companies to get these predictions right.
Loathable jargon is a big part of this journey: or rather, it belies an important concept. Marketo, for example, has taken a big interest lately in ‘Generation Z’ – teenagers through to early twenties, who he defines as “growing up in a post 9/11 world, squarely in the economic downturn and part of a technological, innovation revolution.”
This makes them a distinct marketing group, away from others, like Generation Y – mid-20s to late 30s – and Generation X, up to their 60s. And then there’s the Baby boomers, ‘the rest.’ They are more aware of and experienced with technology; they’re the ‘digital natives’ and that impacts what they will listen to and what they will tune out.
By dividing up consumers into groups, Marketo gives its clients marketing campaigns which are most relevant to the customers.
Take, for example, its client My Fitness Pal, a free fitness app, with a 65m user base. Age has a big impact on fitness and ideas of fitness. Young people concerned with fitness are often concerned with the impact of their physical appearance; wheres older generations might be more interested in the health benefits of exercise. By understanding and further ‘granualising’ this information, My Fitness Pal can better target, inform and sell to consumers.
Dholakia says: “It dovetails with this Generation Z gestalt we’ve created. In a store with just five customers in, we can evaluate what they need pretty easy. We can’t do this so easily with several million people.”
The objective, then, is to make a marketing campaign truly personal. To understand the individual. “To understand Sanjay; to understand Jack,” as Dholakia puts it – so that advertised products are the most relevant to the consumer.
Creating engagement, by extension, will be personalised: emails will read differently for different customers; subject headers will read differently. Websites will warp depending on the computer’s IP address (many websites already automatically detect country and language).
It may be some time before we see quite that sophistication in marketing – however the idea is inspiring for businesses and consumers alike. A totally tailored, bespoke digital experience will be a complete removal from the past, and better serve the interests of the customer.
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