One-to-One Marketing: What Works Now and What Is Still Evolving

Marketers have strived to build “one-to-one” marketing campaigns for years. We’ve been able to make them work to a point. But no marketer has been able to make it work fully just yet.

For most marketers, the data and technical systems required to execute targeted and personal messages require significant investments in people, time, and technology. Algorithms are required to make intelligent content or product recommendations. Real-time data feeds are needed to ensure the latest details are up to date. And somehow, our efforts still leave a bit more to be desired.

I remember buying a baby gift for a friend on Amazon a few years back (my kids were no longer babies then) and getting targeted with the most amazing emails from Amazon offering me baby products for months: diapers, clothing, books, toys. They were fabulous emails based off my prior purchase – but they fell on deaf ears since Amazon knew about my purchasing habits, but not about me as a person.

We’ve come a long way. With the ability to integrate social profiles, purchasing history, Web browsing data, credit card look-alike spending, and more, today’s one-to-one outreach is much closer to being accurate. Retargeting is fabulous. Predictive analytics is brilliant. Omnichannel data sharing is genius. All of these elements have pushed one-to-one marketing light years ahead.

But we are missing one key element, core to enabling one-to-one marketing to realize its full potential: the quantified self.

If you went to CES this year and spent any time at the Sands, you would have seen rows and rows of beautiful devices and gadgets that run off of your personal data (sleep habits, body fat, heart rate, glucose level). These gadgets compel you to track and share very personal data that just doesn’t help you monitor your life habits, but enable marketers and brands to understand more about who you are. Add OnStar, and other in-device monitors, and one-to-one might even become a bit scary. Now, using these devices, you are no longer the 40-something, average income, married person with two kids, living in the suburbs within 25 miles of a large city, who shops at Target, Nordstrom, and orders pizza. Now, you are all of those things as well as the driver of your carpool, a bit overweight, but very busy as you only sleep three hours a night. With this quantified-self data, marketers can evolve from sending transactional one-to-one messaging and evolve to sending messaging that matters.

Within two years, as the general public adopts more connected devices, the direct side of marketing is going to go through a rebirth, where brand messaging will be the compelling element of the direct outreach. Showing shoes to match your handbag will no longer be enough; showing shoes that match you handbag being worn by someone of your similar stature, and running down the street to get the kids from school is going to be more common. Emotional and contextual marketing is going to rule the day.

Get ready. One-to-one marketing is on the verge of explosive growth.

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