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Guide to Marketing Personalization

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Guide to Marketing Personalization

With so many brand messages flooding customer inboxes and smartphones, it’s no wonder marketers are having a hard time connecting with audiences. Even with more technology solutions available than ever before, 74% of marketing leaders say they struggle to scale their personalization efforts, according to a Gartner survey. What’s more, that same data suggests brands may risk losing 38% of customers due to poor personalization.

Customers want to be treated as individuals, not as users, accounts, or prospects.

In this guide to personalized marketing, we’ll dive deep into personalization and its potential to increase customer engagement. We’ll cover:

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

What is personalization?

Personalization is a one-to-one marketing strategy that seeks to better understand and connect with customers. It uses real-time data and insights to deliver highly relevant messages and offers.

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Personalization as a strategy represents a shift from what had been a traditional one-size-fits-all approach that prioritizes reach and breadth of an audience to methods that target customers based on their needs and interests. It places a heavy emphasis on tailoring messages to specific individuals or segments of buyers.

One might think of personalization as a set of tactics marketers employ that primarily focus on remembering key details about customers, but they’d only be partially right. Personalization encompasses much more. It’s about changing the face of marketing, moving from assumption-based, batch-and-blast approaches to meaningful, personalized customer experiences.

“If you stop at adding someone’s first name to an email I think you’re missing this changing face idea,” wrote speaker and marketing consultant John Jantsch. “To me, personalization happens when a marketer or salesperson can take a piece of content and make it more useful for a specific prospect or customer.”

Personalization is the process in which brands tailor their offers, communications, and advertising to the needs of buyers. Customers – whether B2B or B2C – expect customized experiences, and marketers must lean on smart targeting solutions to fully understand the people they’re selling to. Marketers using personalization tactics apply the insights gleaned from these audiences to guide customers through the buying process.

Seth Godin, entrepreneur and bestselling author, summed up the goal of personalized marketing on his blog: “Personalization wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff as everyone else sees. No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behavior as the most important clue about what people want and more importantly, what they need.”

Examples of personalized marketing

Today’s customers expect personalization in each interaction they have with brands. Whether it’s name recognition, location-based recommendations, or messages based on preferences, marketers need practical ways to enact personalization across their campaigns to meet this demand.

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consumer personalization preferences in marketing
Source: MoEngage

Customers also expect seamless experiences wherever they encounter brands. Any disruptions they run into will almost inevitably cause them to drop off. 

This is why marketers must ensure their content meets the personal needs of their audiences wherever they find them. Many use customer journey analytics to help ensure these experiences are optimized and personalized across all channels.


Guide to Marketing Personalization

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While the principles of personalization can be applied to both B2C and B2B brands, their application often looks different. Here are some examples of personalization in both areas.

B2C personalized marketing examples

Personalizing marketing for consumers may seem straightforward to many brands, but it’s actually much more complex. Consumer preferences are constantly changing, and marketers need to offer solutions to their current needs and anticipate those that may arise in the future. 

Fortunately, emerging technologies over the past few years have allowed B2C marketers to gain relevant insights from consumer audiences, giving them the tools they need to offer engaging, personalized content.

Here are three examples of how B2C brands can use personalization to reach more consumers.

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Data-driven strategies. Marketers rely on customer data to make their marketing engines run, and this is even more important when it comes to personalization. Collecting first-party consumer data with tools like customer data platforms (CDPs) can help marketers learn what their audience demands and develop solutions to fulfill those needs.

Marketing automation. Brands have more consumer data to analyze than ever before, which can be a double-edged sword. A great number of potential insights may be lost due to marketing team capacity issues or poor technological infrastructure. This is why many B2C teams are embracing marketing automation solutions to improve data collection, task streamlining, and audience analysis – all of which help improve personalization.

Artificial intelligence solutions. AI tools are all the rage in marketing circles today, and for good reason – their machine learning capabilities can help brands provide highly personalized experiences to their customers. They can learn from consumer behavior and improve marketing tactics with in-depth analysis. However, these technologies are far from perfect, so B2C marketers should ensure there are proper safeguards in place before deploying them.

B2B personalized marketing examples

Personalization among B2B brands looks a lot different than in its B2B counterparts. Aside from the obvious differences in marketing to consumers versus marketing to companies, B2B marketers may face frequent data issues – outdated, siloed, or low-quality data – that prevent them from honing in on actionable business information. What’s more, these professionals are marketing to high-level decision-makers whose interests and priorities are more difficult to decipher than the average consumer.

Marketers must understand these buyers inside and out – especially those in the B2B space. Here are three B2B personalized marketing examples to help brands build these complex relationships.

Account-based marketing. Many B2B marketers are turning to account-based marketing (ABM) strategies and tools to help deliver targeted advertising and personalized content to high-value accounts. Although this marketing method has been around for more than a decade, advances in technology are allowing marketers to glean relevant data from high-level purchase decision-makers, such as buying intent and quantitative business information. By implementing an ABM strategy with one of many available platforms, marketers can foster greater personalized connections with businesses.

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Guide to Marketing Personalization

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Personalized content recommendations. Understanding where your visitors are in the content funnel is critical, but guiding them through it is even more important. Brands can offer B2B buyers personalized content recommendations at each funnel stage, using information such as past purchases, downloads, or search history to make informed decisions. Showing buyers you’re aware of their needs as a business can help build that much-needed trust.

Location-based marketing. Many businesses operate from a single geographic area and primarily serve customers around them. B2B marketers can better reach buyers by providing messaging that speaks to their locality, whether it’s upcoming events pertaining to them or special deals for their area.

While B2B and B2C personalization tactics often differ, many can be applied to both types of brands. Here are some examples of the most popular personalized content and strategies.

Personalized landing pages. There is no set of rules that will ensure personalized landing page success. But brands that include information that is personal to the visitor – their name, geographical location, useful content pertinent to their situation – can foster greater engagement.

Product recommendations. Giving customers product suggestions in the form of emails or ads can show them you care about their needs. And this practice can positively impact sales too; product recommendations can account for up to 31% of e-commerce site revenues, according to data from e-commerce personalization company Barilliance.

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Connecting video experiences. Videos have the potential to increase customer engagement, especially if they’re personalized. That’s why brands may want to consider creating customized videos for individual customers. When used properly, these can help companies show customers they care about their needs.

Social media advertising. Marketers have many personalization capabilities available on social media platforms. From retargeting campaigns to personalized messaging via chatbots, brands can use these tools to customize their messaging for customers on a personal level.

Customized email messages. Email is one of the most effective mediums to use when personalizing marketing campaigns. With email platforms, brands can send customized messages, offers, images, and even cart abandonment notifications (for e-commerce sites).


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Who uses personalization in marketing?

Personalization is used by some of the most successful brands in our industry to increase customer engagement. Using data gleaned from what customers purchase, watch or search, these marketers produce personalized messages, recommendations, videos, and more to keep their interest.

Here are some of the top brands that have enacted successful marketing personalization campaigns.

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Bringg. Cloud logistics platform Bringg recognized the value of customer journey data when it came to personalization, so they chose an attribution platform to glean more insights. They discovered that their newsletter and targeted landing pages led to more business interactions, so they invested heavily in personalizing content in both of these areas. Sending brands to the most relevant pages and customizing newsletters to fit their needs led to more than a 20% increase in Bringg’s demo bookings.

Nuxeo. Content management platform Nuxeo wanted to improve user experience for the brands that use its platform, so they decided to implement machine learning solutions. In order to improve content engagement, these algorithms gathered insights from readers and recommended further reading based on their preferences. These deep learning solutions increased Nuxeo’s blog engagement by 34%.

Nike. One of Nike’s most effective personalized marketing assets is its primary app. The software allows users to connect with Nike Plus rewards, receiving custom offers based on their in-app behavior. It also gives them access to new products, further incentivizing downloads.

The Nike Training Club app also provides customers with personalized experiences – in its case, during their everyday exercise routines. It recommends personal adaptive training plans for users based on their workouts and goals.

Shutterfly. The well-known photography product company offers a number of personalized features for customers who create accounts and download their app. If users grant access to their photos, Shutterfly will identify which have people and then place them on various product images (mugs, notebooks, etc.) that customers can buy on the app. Its “Make it a Thing” campaign amplifies the personalization options even further with additional customization features.

Target. A few years back, Target rolled out a personalized customer loyalty program that offered savings on purchases, birthday rewards, nonprofit giving, and a variety of customized offers. Customers who use this program, titled “Target Circle,” receive special offers based on their purchase history – they’re also offered recommendations for online and in-store purchases.

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Coca-Cola. The company launched its “Share a Coke” campaign back in 2011, which was aimed to reach millennials. The campaign placed some of the most popular first names of this generation on bottles (over 800, according to AdAge). Coca-Cola eventually added unique personal phrases to these bottles, which all seemed to pay off; the company increased its sales volume for the first time in four years during the campaign.


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How personalization can help marketers

Although many brands recognize the importance of personalization, some still view it as an optional add-on to their current campaign setups. They may see it as nothing more than a nice bonus to their product or service offerings, or worse, a distraction.

However, neglecting personalization is no longer an option for marketers – at least those who want to succeed in our individualized digital landscape.

“One-to-one personalization is the future,” said Ehren Maedge, GM of North America at customer engagement platform MoEngage, in his presentation at our MarTech conference. “Brands need to get there quickly or be displaced by alternatives.”

Marketing personalization can provide several benefits for brands, including:

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  • Increased customer feedback.
  • Improved customer experience.
  • Increased customer loyalty.
  • Improved lead nurturing.
  • Better customer retention.

What are the challenges of personalized marketing?

Many marketers struggle to integrate personalization into their campaigns. Whether it’s finding creative ways to get their messages to the right audience in the right moments or getting their channels in sync, brands may face a number of challenges when introducing personalization into their campaigns.

Here are some of the main challenges marketers face when seeking to introduce personalization into their campaigns.

Technology limitations. Many brands cite the lack of sophisticated marketing technology as a barrier to personalization. A report from Adobe and Incisiv found that 58% of retailers and 67% of travel firms claim they don’t have the technology they need to support their personalization strategies. In addition, a survey from Yieldify found that 36% of marketers claim their personalization tools lack functionality and 34% believe those same technologies are too expensive.

Whether it’s integrating artificial intelligence platforms within their infrastructure or allocating enough budget to procure these personalization technologies, marketers have their work cut out for them.

Fortunately, personalization campaigns can still be successful without the latest, greatest technology. Most marketing tools available today – CRM, email technologies, social engagement tools, and more – have personalization capabilities. And, marketers lacking the technology resources for more advanced tools can effectively leverage their current assets, aligning the strengths of each platform with their personalization goals.

Consumer data silos. Organizational alignment is critical to the success of personalization campaigns. Without it, brands risk alienating customers with unorganized communications, such as sending duplicate or conflicting messages. This issue often arises between sales and marketing teams – two groups that have historically run into coordination challenges due to data siloing.

Brands need solutions to consolidate data between these two groups, which is why many marketers turn to CDPs. These technologies can help centralize customer data, tracking prospects across multiple channels.

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Respecting consumer privacy. There’s a fine line between personalization efforts that show customers that brands care for them and those that feel intrusive. People care about their privacy and will only respond well to personalized communication that uses the information they’ve consented to share.

Still, many marketers bemoan the fact that upcoming legislation will restrict companies’ use of third-party data, fearing this will disrupt their marketing strategies.

However, this view fails to account for the treasure trove of value found in first-party data. This information offers actionable insights from customers, and collecting it adheres to consent regulations, making it one of marketers’ best resources for creating personalized campaigns.

What marketing technology is needed for personalization?

With so many brands adopting personalization technologies and strategies, it’s clear that it will play a major role in the future of marketing. 89% of online businesses already invest in personalization, according to Forrester, and data from Statista found that 60% of marketers claim their digital content is extensively personalized. SmarterHQ even found that 51% of marketers rate personalization as their top priority.

But, despite this growing popularity of personalization, many brands have trouble implementing customized frameworks and strategies. They’re looking for practical ways to introduce personalization to campaigns without alienating customers in the transition.

To help with this issue, here are some of the ways marketers can introduce personalization strategies and technologies into their marketing.

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Gather and leverage market data using a CDP. “The start of personalization is data,” writes Songtham Tung, SaaS consultant. “Data is information, and with enough of it, we can begin to identify patterns or trends that can help us make smarter decisions.”

Customer data is a major part of the foundation of any personalization strategy. Brands that can acquire clean data and draw actionable insights from it can make stronger connections with audiences.

But this is easier said than done. Information such as customers’ shopping history, location, buying behavior, and other personal data is more protected than ever due to the advent of consumer privacy legislation such as the GDPR and CCPA. These laws limit brands’ ability to leverage data from third-party cookies, but this doesn’t mean customers aren’t willing to share their information. It just means that brands must practice proper data compliance to collect it.

Respecting consumer privacy through consent management can help brands build stronger customer trust and collect valuable data. To do this, marketers should focus on gathering first-party customer data via a CDP or similar technology.

Many brands also use consent management platforms (CMPs) to adhere to these privacy laws, but marketers should note that a good deal of them can only perform basic functions, such as showing simple banners briefly mentioning their data policies. These types of platforms fail to protect user privacy and respect the data regulations themselves.

Instead, marketers seeking to enhance personalization with first-party data – all the while complying with consumer privacy laws – should consider adopting a compliance platform. These can help control and govern the flow of customer data with autonomous enforcement of user privacy preferences. Combined with a personalization strategy, marketers can strengthen customer trust and keep them coming back for more.

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unification of first-party customer data to foster personalization
Source: Blueconic, MarTech Conference

According to the late Steve Jobs, brands have an imperative to anticipate their customers’ needs: “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” Gathering this valuable customer data can make this job easier.

Generate buyer personas with a CRM. Many marketers recommend crafting buyer personas – outlines of your audience based on customer data – to gain a better understanding of their market. These fictionalized profiles are designed to give brands a more accurate picture of customer wants and needs.

Using demographic, firmographic, and psychographic data gleaned from CRMs, marketers can build profiles that represent their customers’ interests and behaviors. But even this data can prove limiting; marketers need to ensure they craft these personas using personal aspects that don’t always fit their “professional” roles.

Brands can use CRMs to glean customer insights for these personas from in-depth surveys, social media interactions, form fill-outs, and personalized messaging. They can all provide relevant insights for persona creation, but many professionals recommend taking it a step further, focusing on one-on-one interactions.

“To achieve an ROI on your buyer persona initiative, you need to invest in one-on-one interviews with people who have recently considered the product, service, or solution you want them to prioritize,” writes Adele Revella, CEO of Buyer Persona Institute. “This isn’t traditional research involving surveys or focus groups. A skilled interviewer needs to think like a journalist, working without a script and walking each buyer very slowly through every step in their actual journey. The most critical skill is asking follow-up questions to probe on every response, which is where you’ll gain deep insights into the buyer’s motivations, objections, and decision criteria.”

Plan out your customer journey content with analytics. Too many marketers wait to optimize their customer journeys until they’ve launched their campaigns. However, brands that plan out their content with the customer journey in mind can more easily tailor it to meet their needs.

Planning out content for each step of these journeys is made easier with customer journey analytics platforms. These technologies help marketers identify key stages of customer buying experiences and provide actionable insights based on their behavior. The goal is to provide relevant content to customers at each stage of the purchase journey.

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Using collected first-party data, marketers can repurpose relevant customer insights into content that corresponds with the awareness, consideration, and decision stages. Some of these content types could include:

  • Blog posts tailored to customers’ interests.
  • Infographics with data pertinent to customers’ problems.
  • Webinars featuring topics customers consistently search for.
  • FAQ pages with relevant answers.
  • Case studies featuring existing customers in similar situations.

As customers move through the content funnel, marketers should note how much attention they’re paying to personalization. Data from Renegade (shown below) illustrates how personalized efforts tend to deteriorate as customers move through the funnel.

drop of personalization throughout sales funnel
The tendency of personalization to decrease as customers move through the sales funnel. Source: Renegade

There are plenty of ways to personalize content, but marketers who craft it with customers’ journeys in mind can help build trust with an improved customer experience. Fortunately, the sheer amount of data and technologies available to brands today can help them provide engaging personalization at each customer touchpoint.

Identity resolution platforms: A snapshot

What it is. Identity resolution is the science of connecting the growing volume of consumer identifiers to one individual as he or she interacts across channels and devices.

What the tools do. Identity resolution technology connects those identifiers to one individual. It draws this valuable data from the various channels and devices customers interact with, such as connected speakers, home management solutions, smart TVs, and wearable devices. It’s an important tool as the number of devices connected to IP networks is expected to climb to more than three times the global population by 2023, according to the Cisco Annual Internet Report.

Why it’s hot now. More people expect relevant brand experiences across each stage of their buying journeys. One-size-fits-all marketing doesn’t work; buyers know what information sellers should have and how they should use it. Also, inaccurate targeting wastes campaign spending and fails to generate results.

This is why investment in identity resolution programs is growing among brand marketers. These technologies also ensure their activities stay in line with privacy regulations.

Why we care. The most successful digital marketing strategies rely on knowing your potential customer. Knowing what they’re interested in, what they’ve purchased before — even what demographic group they belong to — is essential.

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Read next: What is identity resolution and how are platforms adapting to privacy changes?


About The Author

4 ways to build a successful ABM strategy

Corey Patterson is an Editor for MarTech and Search Engine Land. With a background in SEO, content marketing, and journalism, he covers SEO and PPC to help marketers improve their campaigns.


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MARKETING

How to Use AI For a More Effective Social Media Strategy, According to Ross Simmonds

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How to Use AI For a More Effective Social Media Strategy, According to Ross Simmonds

Welcome to Creator Columns, where we bring expert HubSpot Creator voices to the Blogs that inspire and help you grow better.

It’s the age of AI, and our job as marketers is to keep up.

My team at Foundation Marketing recently conducted an AI Marketing study surveying hundreds of marketers, and more than 84% of all leaders, managers, SEO experts, and specialists confirmed that they used AI in the workplace.

AI in the workplace data graphic, Foundation Labs

If you can overlook the fear-inducing headlines, this technology is making social media marketers more efficient and effective than ever. Translation: AI is good news for social media marketers.

Download Now: The 2024 State of Social Media Trends [Free Report]

In fact, I predict that the marketers not using AI in their workplace will be using it before the end of this year, and that number will move closer and closer to 100%.

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Social media and AI are two of the most revolutionizing technologies of the last few decades. Social media has changed the way we live, and AI is changing the way we work.

So, I’m going to condense and share the data, research, tools, and strategies that the Foundation Marketing Team and I have been working on over the last year to help you better wield the collective power of AI and social media.

Let’s jump into it.

What’s the role of AI in social marketing strategy?

In a recent episode of my podcast, Create Like The Greats, we dove into some fascinating findings about the impact of AI on marketers and social media professionals. Take a listen here:

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the benefits of this technology:

Benefits of AI in Social Media Strategy

AI is to social media what a conductor is to an orchestra — it brings everything together with precision and purpose. The applications of AI in a social media strategy are vast, but the virtuosos are few who can wield its potential to its fullest.

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AI to Conduct Customer Research

Imagine you’re a modern-day Indiana Jones, not dodging boulders or battling snakes, but rather navigating the vast, wild terrain of consumer preferences, trends, and feedback.

This is where AI thrives.

Using social media data, from posts on X to comments and shares, AI can take this information and turn it into insights surrounding your business and industry. Let’s say for example you’re a business that has 2,000 customer reviews on Google, Yelp, or a software review site like Capterra.

Leveraging AI you can now have all 2,000 of these customer reviews analyzed and summarized into an insightful report in a matter of minutes. You simply need to download all of them into a doc and then upload them to your favorite Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) to get the insights and data you need.

But that’s not all.

You can become a Prompt Engineer and write ChatGPT asking it to help you better understand your audience. For example, if you’re trying to come up with a persona for people who enjoy marathons but also love kombucha you could write a prompt like this to ChatGPT:

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ChatGPT prompt example

The response that ChatGPT provided back is quite good:

GPT response example

Below this it went even deeper by including a lot of valuable customer research data:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Consumer behaviors
  • Needs and preferences

And best of all…

It also included marketing recommendations.

The power of AI is unbelievable.

Social Media Content Using AI

AI’s helping hand can be unburdening for the creative spirit.

Instead of marketers having to come up with new copy every single month for posts, AI Social Caption generators are making it easier than ever to craft catchy status updates in the matter of seconds.

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Tools like HubSpot make it as easy as clicking a button and telling the AI tool what you’re looking to create a post about:

AI social media caption generator step 1

The best part of these AI tools is that they’re not limited to one channel.

Your AI social media content assistant can help you with LinkedIn content, X content, Facebook content, and even the captions that support your post on Instagram.

It can also help you navigate hashtags:

AI social media hashtags generator example, HubSpot

With AI social media tools that generate content ideas or even write posts, it’s not about robots replacing humans. It’s about making sure that the human creators on your team are focused on what really matters — adding that irreplaceable human touch.

Enhanced Personalization

You know that feeling when a brand gets you, like, really gets you?

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AI makes that possible through targeted content that’s tailored with a level of personalization you’d think was fortune-telling if the data didn’t paint a starker, more rational picture.

What do I mean?

Brands can engage more quickly with AI than ever before. In the early 2000s, a lot of brands spent millions of dollars to create social media listening rooms where they would hire social media managers to find and engage with any conversation happening online.

Thanks to AI, brands now have the ability to do this at scale with much fewer people all while still delivering quality engagement with the recipient.

Analytics and Insights

Tapping into AI to dissect the data gives you a CSI-like precision to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what makes your audience tick. It’s the difference between guessing and knowing.

The best part about AI is that it can give you almost any expert at your fingertips.

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If you run a report surrounding the results of your social media content strategy directly from a site like LinkedIn, AI can review the top posts you’ve shared and give you clear feedback on what type of content is performing, why you should create more of it, and what days of the week your content is performing best.

This type of insight that would typically take hours to understand.

Now …

Thanks to the power of AI you can upload a spreadsheet filled with rows and columns of data just to be met with a handful of valuable insights a few minutes later.

Improved Customer Service

Want 24/7 support for your customers?

It’s now possible without human touch.

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Chatbots powered by AI are taking the lead on direct messaging experiences for brands on Facebook and other Meta properties to offer round-the-clock assistance.

The fact that AI can be trained on past customer queries and data to inform future queries and problems is a powerful development for social media managers.

Advertising on Social Media with AI

The majority of ad networks have used some variation of AI to manage their bidding system for years. Now, thanks to AI and its ability to be incorporated in more tools, brands are now able to use AI to create better and more interesting ad campaigns than ever before.

Brands can use AI to create images using tools like Midjourney and DALL-E in seconds.

Brands can use AI to create better copy for their social media ads.

Brands can use AI tools to support their bidding strategies.

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The power of AI and social media is continuing to evolve daily and it’s not exclusively found in the organic side of the coin. Paid media on social media is being shaken up due to AI just the same.

How to Implement AI into Your Social Media Strategy

Ready to hit “Go” on your AI-powered social media revolution?

Don’t just start the engine and hope for the best. Remember the importance of building a strategy first. In this video, you can learn some of the most important factors ranging from (but not limited to) SMART goals and leveraging influencers in your day-to-day work:

The following seven steps are crucial to building a social media strategy:

  1. Identify Your AI and Social Media Goals
  2. Validate Your AI-Related Assumptions
  3. Conduct Persona and Audience Research
  4. Select the Right Social Channels
  5. Identify Key Metrics and KPIs
  6. Choose the Right AI Tools
  7. Evaluate and Refine Your Social Media and AI Strategy

Keep reading, roll up your sleeves, and follow this roadmap:

1. Identify Your AI and Social Media Goals

If you’re just dipping your toes into the AI sea, start by defining clear objectives.

Is it to boost engagement? Streamline your content creation? Or simply understand your audience better? It’s important that you spend time understanding what you want to achieve.

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For example, say you’re a content marketing agency like Foundation and you’re trying to increase your presence on LinkedIn. The specificity of this goal will help you understand the initiatives you want to achieve and determine which AI tools could help you make that happen.

Are there AI tools that will help you create content more efficiently? Are there AI tools that will help you optimize LinkedIn Ads? Are there AI tools that can help with content repurposing? All of these things are possible and having a goal clearly identified will help maximize the impact. Learn more in this Foundation Marketing piece on incorporating AI into your content workflow.

Once you have identified your goals, it’s time to get your team on board and assess what tools are available in the market.

Recommended Resources:

2. Validate Your AI-Related Assumptions

Assumptions are dangerous — especially when it comes to implementing new tech.

Don’t assume AI is going to fix all your problems.

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Instead, start with small experiments and track their progress carefully.

3. Conduct Persona and Audience Research

Social media isn’t something that you can just jump into.

You need to understand your audience and ideal customers. AI can help with this, but you’ll need to be familiar with best practices. If you need a primer, this will help:

Once you understand the basics, consider ways in which AI can augment your approach.

4. Select the Right Social Channels

Not every social media channel is the same.

It’s important that you understand what channel is right for you and embrace it.

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The way you use AI for X is going to be different from the way you use AI for LinkedIn. On X, you might use AI to help you develop a long-form thread that is filled with facts and figures. On LinkedIn however, you might use AI to repurpose a blog post and turn it into a carousel PDF. The content that works on X and that AI can facilitate creating is different from the content that you can create and use on LinkedIn.

The audiences are different.

The content formats are different.

So operate and create a plan accordingly.

Recommended Tools and Resources:

5. Identify Key Metrics and KPIs

What metrics are you trying to influence the most?

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Spend time understanding the social media metrics that matter to your business and make sure that they’re prioritized as you think about the ways in which you use AI.

These are a few that matter most:

  • Reach: Post reach signifies the count of unique users who viewed your post. How much of your content truly makes its way to users’ feeds?
  • Clicks: This refers to the number of clicks on your content or account. Monitoring clicks per campaign is crucial for grasping what sparks curiosity or motivates people to make a purchase.
  • Engagement: The total social interactions divided by the number of impressions. This metric reveals how effectively your audience perceives you and their readiness to engage.

Of course, it’s going to depend greatly on your business.

But with this information, you can ensure that your AI social media strategy is rooted in goals.

6. Choose the Right AI Tools

The AI landscape is filled with trash and treasure.

Pick AI tools that are most likely to align with your needs and your level of tech-savviness.

For example, if you’re a blogger creating content about pizza recipes, you can use HubSpot’s AI social caption generator to write the message on your behalf:

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AI social media generator example

The benefit of an AI tool like HubSpot and the caption generator is that what at one point took 30-40 minutes to come up with — you can now have it at your fingertips in seconds. The HubSpot AI caption generator is trained on tons of data around social media content and makes it easy for you to get inspiration or final drafts on what can be used to create great content.

Consider your budget, the learning curve, and what kind of support the tool offers.

7. Evaluate and Refine Your Social Media and AI Strategy

AI isn’t a magic wand; it’s a set of complex tools and technology.

You need to be willing to pivot as things come to fruition.

If you notice that a certain activity is falling flat, consider how AI can support that process.

Did you notice that your engagement isn’t where you want it to be? Consider using an AI tool to assist with crafting more engaging social media posts.

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Make AI Work for You — Now and in the Future

AI has the power to revolutionize your social media strategy in ways you may have never thought possible. With its ability to conduct customer research, create personalized content, and so much more, thinking about the future of social media is fascinating.

We’re going through one of the most interesting times in history.

Stay equipped to ride the way of AI and ensure that you’re embracing the best practices outlined in this piece to get the most out of the technology.

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Advertising in local markets: A playbook for success

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Advertising in local markets: A playbook for success

Many brands, such as those in the home services industry or a local grocery chain, market to specific locations, cities or regions. There are also national brands that want to expand in specific local markets. 

Regardless of the company or purpose, advertising on a local scale has different tactics than on a national scale. Brands need to connect their messaging directly with the specific communities they serve and media to their target demo. Here’s a playbook to help your company succeed when marketing on a local scale.  

1. Understand local vs. national campaigns

Local advertising differs from national campaigns in several ways: 

  • Audience specificity: By zooming in on precise geographic areas, brands can tailor messaging to align with local communities’ customs, preferences and nuances. This precision targeting ensures that your message resonates with the right target audience.
  • Budget friendliness: Local advertising is often more accessible for small businesses. Local campaign costs are lower, enabling brands to invest strategically within targeted locales. This budget-friendly nature does not diminish the need for strategic planning; instead, it emphasizes allocating resources wisely to maximize returns. As a result, testing budgets can be allocated across multiple markets to maximize learnings for further market expansion.
  • Channel selection: Selecting the correct channels is vital for effective local advertising. Local newspapers, radio stations, digital platforms and community events each offer advantages. The key lies in understanding where your target audience spends time and focusing efforts to ensure optimal engagement.
  • Flexibility and agility: Local campaigns can be adjusted more swiftly in response to market feedback or changes, allowing brands to stay relevant and responsive. 

Maintaining brand consistency across local touchpoints reinforces brand identity and builds a strong, recognizable brand across markets. 

2. Leverage customized audience segmentation 

Customized audience segmentation is the process of dividing a market into distinct groups based on specific demographic criteria. This marketing segmentation supports the development of targeted messaging and media plans for local markets. 

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For example, a coffee chain might cater to two distinct segments: young professionals and retirees. After identifying these segments, the chain can craft messages, offers and media strategies relating to each group’s preferences and lifestyle.

To reach young professionals in downtown areas, the chain might focus on convenience, quality coffee and a vibrant atmosphere that is conducive to work and socializing. Targeted advertising on Facebook, Instagram or Connected TV, along with digital signage near office complexes, could capture the attention of this demographic, emphasizing quick service and premium blends.

Conversely, for retirees in residential areas, the chain could highlight a cozy ambiance, friendly service and promotions such as senior discounts. Advertisements in local print publications, community newsletters, radio stations and events like senior coffee mornings would foster a sense of community and belonging.

Dig deeper: Niche advertising: 7 actionable tactics for targeted marketing

3. Adapt to local market dynamics

Various factors influence local market dynamics. Brands that navigate changes effectively maintain a strong audience connection and stay ahead in the market. Here’s how consumer sentiment and behavior may evolve within a local market and the corresponding adjustments brands can make. 

  • Cultural shifts, such as changes in demographics or societal norms, can alter consumer preferences within a local community. For example, a neighborhood experiencing gentrification may see demand rise for specific products or services.
    • Respond by updating your messaging to reflect the evolving cultural landscape, ensuring it resonates with the new demographic profile.
  • Economic conditions are crucial. For example, during downturns, consumers often prioritize value and practicality.
    • Highlight affordable options or emphasize the practical benefits of your offerings to ensure messaging aligns with consumers’ financial priorities. The impact is unique to each market and the marketing message must also be dynamic.
  • Seasonal trends impact consumer behavior.
    • Align your promotions and creative content with changing seasons or local events to make your offerings timely and relevant.
  • New competitors. The competitive landscape demands vigilance because new entrants or innovative competitor campaigns can shift consumer preferences.
    • Differentiate by focusing on your unique selling propositions, such as quality, customer service or community involvement, to retain consumer interest and loyalty.

4. Apply data and predictive analytics 

Data and predictive analytics are indispensable tools for successfully reaching local target markets. These technologies provide consumer behavior insights, enabling you to anticipate market trends and adjust strategies proactively. 

  • Price optimization: By analyzing consumer demand, competitor pricing and market conditions, data analytics enables you to set prices that attract customers while ensuring profitability.
  • Competitor analysis: Through analysis, brands can understand their positioning within the local market landscape and identify opportunities and threats. Predictive analytics offer foresight into competitors’ potential moves, allowing you to strategize effectively to maintain a competitive edge.
  • Consumer behavior: Forecasting consumer behavior allows your brand to tailor offerings and marketing messages to meet evolving consumer needs and enhance engagement.
  • Marketing effectiveness: Analytics track the success of advertising campaigns, providing insights into which strategies drive conversions and sales. This feedback loop enables continuous optimization of marketing efforts for maximum impact.
  • Inventory management: In supply chain management, data analytics predict demand fluctuations, ensuring inventory levels align with market needs. This efficiency prevents stockouts or excess inventory, optimizing operational costs and meeting consumer expectations.

Dig deeper: Why you should add predictive modeling to your marketing mix

5. Counter external market influences

Consider a clothing retailer preparing for a spring collection launch. By analyzing historical weather data and using predictive analytics, the brand forecasts an unseasonably cool start to spring. Anticipating this, the retailer adjusts its campaign to highlight transitional pieces suitable for cooler weather, ensuring relevance despite an unexpected chill.

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Simultaneously, predictive models signal an upcoming spike in local media advertising rates due to increased market demand. Retailers respond by reallocating a portion of advertising budgets to digital channels, which offer more flexibility and lower costs than traditional media. This shift enables brands to maintain visibility and engagement without exceeding budget, mitigating the impact of external forces on advertising.

6. Build consumer confidence with messaging

Localized messaging and tailored customer service enhance consumer confidence by demonstrating your brand’s understanding of the community. For instance, a grocery store that curates cooking classes featuring local cuisine or sponsors community events shows commitment to local culture and consumer interests. 

Similarly, a bookstore highlighting local authors or topics relevant to the community resonates with local customers. Additionally, providing service that addresses local needs — such as bilingual service and local event support — reinforces the brand’s values and response to the community. 

Through these localized approaches, brands can build trust and loyalty, bridging the gap between corporate presence and local relevance.

7. Dominate with local advertising 

To dominate local markets, brands must:

  • Harness hyper-targeted segmentation and geo-targeted advertising to reach and engage precise audiences.
  • Create localized content that reflects community values, engage in community events, optimize campaigns for mobile and track results.
  • Fine-tune strategies, outperform competitors and foster lasting relationships with customers.

These strategies will enable your message to resonate with local consumers, differentiate you in competitive markets and ensure you become a major player in your specific area. 



Dig deeper: The 5 critical elements for local marketing success

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

As we march closer to the 2024 U.S. presidential election, CMOs and marketing leaders need to prepare for a significant shift in the digital advertising landscape. Election years have always posed unique challenges for advertisers, but the growing dominance of digital media has made the impact more profound than ever before.

In this article, we’ll explore the key factors that will shape the advertising environment in the coming months and provide actionable insights to help you navigate these turbulent waters.

The Digital Battleground

The rise of cord-cutting and the shift towards digital media consumption have fundamentally altered the advertising landscape in recent years. As traditional TV viewership declines, political campaigns have had to adapt their strategies to reach voters where they are spending their time: on digital platforms.

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According to a recent report by eMarketer, the number of cord-cutters in the U.S. is expected to reach 65.1 million by the end of 2023, representing a 6.9% increase from 2022. This trend is projected to continue, with the number of cord-cutters reaching 72.2 million by 2025.

Moreover, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2023 found that 62% of U.S. adults do not have a cable or satellite TV subscription, up from 61% in 2022 and 50% in 2019. This data further underscores the accelerating shift away from traditional TV and towards streaming and digital media platforms.

As these trends continue, political advertisers will have no choice but to follow their audiences to digital channels. In the 2022 midterm elections, digital ad spending by political campaigns reached $1.2 billion, a 50% increase from the 2018 midterms. With the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, this figure is expected to grow exponentially, as campaigns compete for the attention of an increasingly digital-first electorate.

For brands and advertisers, this means that the competition for digital ad space will be fiercer than ever before. As political ad spending continues to migrate to platforms like Meta, YouTube, and connected TV, the cost of advertising will likely surge, making it more challenging for non-political advertisers to reach their target audiences.

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To navigate this complex and constantly evolving landscape, CMOs and their teams will need to be proactive, data-driven, and willing to experiment with new strategies and channels. By staying ahead of the curve and adapting to the changing media consumption habits of their audiences, brands can position themselves for success in the face of the electoral advertising onslaught.

Rising Costs and Limited Inventory

As political advertisers flood the digital market, the cost of advertising is expected to skyrocket. CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) will likely experience a steady climb throughout the year, with significant spikes anticipated in May, as college students come home from school and become more engaged in political conversations, and around major campaign events like presidential debates.

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For media buyers and their teams, this means that the tried-and-true strategies of years past may no longer be sufficient. Brands will need to be nimble, adaptable, and willing to explore new tactics to stay ahead of the game.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Perfect Storm

The challenges of election year advertising will be particularly acute during the critical holiday shopping season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which have historically been goldmines for advertisers, will be more expensive and competitive than ever in 2024, as they coincide with the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

To avoid being drowned out by the political noise, brands will need to start planning their holiday campaigns earlier than usual. Building up audiences and crafting compelling creative assets well in advance will be essential to success, as will a willingness to explore alternative channels and tactics. Relying on cold audiences come Q4 will lead to exceptionally high costs that may be detrimental to many businesses.

Navigating the Chaos

While the challenges of election year advertising can seem daunting, there are steps that media buyers and their teams can take to mitigate the impact and even thrive in this environment. Here are a few key strategies to keep in mind:

Start early and plan for contingencies: Begin planning your Q3 and Q4 campaigns as early as possible, with a focus on building up your target audiences and developing a robust library of creative assets.

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Be sure to build in contingency budgets to account for potential cost increases, and be prepared to pivot your strategy as the landscape evolves.

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Embrace alternative channels: Consider diversifying your media mix to include channels that may be less impacted by political ad spending, such as influencer marketing, podcast advertising, or sponsored content. Investing in owned media channels, like email marketing and mobile apps, can also provide a direct line to your customers without the need to compete for ad space.

Owned channels will be more important than ever. Use cheaper months leading up to the election to build your email lists and existing customer base so that your BF/CM can leverage your owned channels and warm audiences.

Craft compelling, shareable content: In a crowded and noisy advertising environment, creating content that resonates with your target audience will be more important than ever. Focus on developing authentic, engaging content that aligns with your brand values and speaks directly to your customers’ needs and desires.

By tapping into the power of emotional triggers and social proof, you can create content that not only cuts through the clutter but also inspires organic sharing and amplification.

Reflections

The 2024 election year will undoubtedly bring new challenges and complexities to the world of digital advertising. But by staying informed, adaptable, and strategic in your approach, you can navigate this landscape successfully and even find new opportunities for growth and engagement.

As a media buyer or agnecy, your role in steering your brand through these uncharted waters will be critical. By starting your planning early, embracing alternative channels and tactics, and focusing on creating authentic, resonant content, you can not only survive but thrive in the face of election year disruptions.

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So while the road ahead may be uncertain, one thing is clear: the brands that approach this challenge with creativity, agility, and a steadfast commitment to their customers will be the ones that emerge stronger on the other side.


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