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Why Consumers Subconsciously Want Personalization

Posted by Lauren Ruckheim on August 12, 2015


In today’s technological world, consumers are bombarded with a constant influx of content. With that said, the majority of consumers desire their interaction with content to be a personalized experience. While most consumers are drawn to personalized content, many are unaware that their want for personalization can actually be attributed to a psychological phenomenon. According to a study from the University of Texas, preferences for personalized experiences can be attributed to two key factors: A desire for control and information overload.

People’s innate need for control is evident as early as childhood. Look at any child fighting his or her parents on what to eat for dinner or what time to go to bed; their want for control is obvious. According to Psychology Today, people desire control because when people feel a sense of control or believe that they are in control of their life outcomes, they tend to feel healthier and more successful. Whether consumers are aware of this correlation or not, personalized content has become an easy way for businesses to fulfill consumers’ need for control.

Additionally, the constant stream of information targeting consumers has also contributed to their need for personalization. Simply put, because information is constantly coming at the consumer, they are more likely to engage with content that is in line with their specific interests. The psychological term behind this phenomenon is called “selective attention.” Subconsciously, consumers have a selective attention span and are naturally drawn to content that is directed at their interests. According to Dr. Rachna Jain, “The RAS [reticular activating system] is associated with the concept of selective attention, which means that we naturally orient to information or ideas that we are invested in.”

Despite all this psychological evidence supporting personalization, most businesses still do not utilize customized content within their marketing strategy. Most marketers admit that personalization has become imperative for companies, but only 6% are planning with personalization in mind.

Below are a few simple ways to implement personalization within marketing strategies.

Personalize emails

"Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”- Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

People naturally pay attention when they are addressed by their name. As teenagers, most people experienced this when their mother chose to call them by their full names generally signaling that trouble was not far behind.

According to a study published in Brain Research, when people hear their first name, there is a unique reaction in the brain that people respond positively to. Therefore, implementing this same practice within marketing strategies can improve consumer responses.

Incorporating personal information in email marketing not only adds a personal touch but also increases the success of the email. According to Experian, including personalized information such as a customer’s name in the content of the email significantly increases open rates as personalized emails are shown to have 25% higher open rates and 51% higher click rates.

Additionally, research shows that emails with personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened compared to non-personalized ones. Just as people respond positively to hearing their name, consumer engagement also increases when marketing efforts have a personal touch.

Get to know the audience

Unfortunately, it is impossible for businesses to know the name of every potential customer, but this does not mean that businesses cannot personalize content. Knowing your target audience and creating content with that audience in mind can mean the difference between simply creating content and developing content that actually resonates with the audience.

Buyer personas act as representations of ideal customers. Developing buyer personas enables companies to categorize consumers based on various characteristics and behavioral traits. In order to create personas, organizations need to analyze their current customer base as well as research and survey new prospects.

Personas help businesses define what kind of content the audience prefers as well as what kind of platforms they generally use to receive content. Once buyer personas are created, companies can streamline messaging and content so it is specific to each persona. Research shows that companies using personalized marketing in effective ways see an average 19% increase in sales.

Segment contact lists

Segmenting content works hand in hand with buyer personas. Based on the various personas that make up a company’s target audience, businesses can segment content. According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 B2B Content Marketing research report, 95% of B2B organizations make some attempt to segment their content based on their audience.

No two consumers are completely alike. Consumers vary based on needs, wants, buying habits, income, age and more. By segmenting content, businesses are able to create customized content that is directed at people with similar characteristics.
For example, a married woman with two children who lives in a rural community is going to have differing interests than a single man living in a city. Therefore, both of these hypothetical consumers would be segmented into different lists in order to ensure they receive content that is within their interests.

Most company databases are filled with 100s if not 1000s of contacts. With that said, not shockingly 52% of marketers say they have a great need to improve their email database, reported HubSpot. Segmentation can help streamline email messaging immensely by adding more personalization and also significantly improving email open rates. In fact, HubSpot found that 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates.

Customize content for the audience’s interests
Although generating leads and sales is one of the goals of content marketing, promotion should not be the purpose of content. According to a recent report from the Economist Group and peppercomm, 75% of executives said their primary purpose for seeking out content was to generate ideas; however, 93% of marketers said the intent of their content was to directly promote products or services. Looking at this data, it is evident that there is a gap in providing what consumers actually want from content.

Moving away from the idea of promotion, content should be customized to meet the needs of consumers and give them the information they are searching for. According to a recent study, consumers today are more intrigued when the brand educates them with a relevant article or content that is of interest to them. Therefore, providing consumers with blog articles, eBooks and downloads that are in line with their interest is actually more effective than constantly plugging your company in self-promotion.

Psychologically people are drawn to personalized content. Therefore, incorporating it into content creation can significantly improve your marketing strategy and engage more customers. To see more types of content marketing and how you can improve your overall marketing strategy, download J&C’s “22 Great Types of Content Marketing” guide. This guide will help you form your own content marketing strategy and target the best content options.

Topics: Inbound Marketing

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