Imagine the day when your favorite brand will treat you like a treasure: they remember your name, your preferences and send you personalized promotions and recommendations based on your location, device and previous engagement with their website, product or service. The Roots Of Personalization This might seem like the future, but the idea of personalization dates back to the old-fashioned local stores, when the shopkeepers knew each and every one of their customers personally. It was this level of intimacy that allowed businesses to tailor their products and services to each of their customers, ensuring that their favorite items were always in stock and could even recommend new products based on their customers’ preferences. Mass-consumerism, however, crushed this type of intimacy and customers became faceless stats and numbers on a spreadsheet. The keen eye of the old shopkeepers seemed like a lost art, but this personalized service is making its way back into the market under a different hat. Consider these in-store messages: “Hey Matt, you were looking at these ties last night, why not buy one right now?” “Hey Jenny, welcome back! Check-in on Foursquare and get 25% off that skirt you liked.” Or, you could head over to your favorite restaurant and the head waiter would receive an automated message telling them that you’re on your way and by the time you walk through the door, your table is waiting for you. Wouldn’t you be impressed with your favorite brand’s attempts to win your heart (and your money) in such a convenient and practical way? I know I would! One day, this level of personalization could be exactly as in the scene in “Minority Report” where Tom Cruise walks into a mall and each billboard calls out his name: “Hey, John Anderton! You could sure use a Guinness right about now.” While businesses may not be there yet in terms of retina scanning, collecting and processing customer data for ultra targeted ads is already being done by marketers, to the point where Amazon believes they can guess what you’re going to buy and will ship items to a local distribution center before you even make a purchase. Personalization… Today An example of personalized experience is when someone is actively browsing a website for a local furniture shop and you engage with the user in real-time and display a promo code in the form of a banner or a pop-up. This ensures that the context is perfect for the customer’s need and the ad is most likely to result in a conversion. Apps like Flipboard allow us to totally personalize the ways we consume content, whether it’s articles, photos or videos from publishers like the National Geographic and thousands more. Amazon has transformed the ways we shop, Netflix how we watch movies and Pandora how we listen to music. The point is, these increasing levels of personalization allow us to choose what we want to consume, from whom and how we interact with and consume that content. These personalized experiences are teaching savvy consumers to expect everything, from every company – products, services, experiences – and everything to be customized seamlessly. Today, 80% of internet users own a smartphone, which means that they are almost always connected, with instant access to more advanced tools and detailed information than ever before. The surprising thing is that people want personalized services and are actually willing to share their personal data in order to get them. An Infosys study of 5,000 consumers worldwide (including 1,000 in the UK) shows that 78% of British respondents would be more likely to buy from retailers if they were served with targeted, relevant offers. This is where adaptive marketing and personalization come in to help you align your marketing with real-time social conversations or cultural movements (e.g. #LoveWins). You must understand how people react and adjust your communication accordingly across all channels. It’s like giving your customer the chance to choose their own adventure. Shifting From Acquisition To Engagement Here’s a viral, freshly baked campaign that is a great example of adaptive real-time marketing. The idea was to setup an interactive video ad in Zürich’s main station and show urban commuters how easy it can be to visit a beautiful part of the Alps by just hopping on a train that leaves in 15 minutes. Now that’s a sense of urgency! [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8Y5MDVhZDQ[/youtube] The guy from the interactive billboard even offers to call people’s bosses or teachers on the phone and make excuses for people who’d love to go on the trip. The passers-by were enticed with a free ticket printed on the spot. All they need to do is say Yes. This is – or should definitely be – the future of advertising: a fun, spontaneous experience for the customer, without any friction or anxiety. Soon, content marketing will work like a museum – bringing together multiple types of content in multiple formats to tell a story that’s relevant to the highly-targeted customer they pursued. This is the way out of the information age and into the conceptual, experience age, where each step builds upon previous interactions to create meaningful conversations and transactions. Final Thoughts Hopefully, you can see the tremendous benefits of personalization – improved customer service, increased sales and customer loyalty. Collecting and using consumer data effectively allows you to reconnect with the customer on their terms to deliver the best possible experience based on their desires and needs. Brands that focus on creating omnichannel experiences, optimizing customer interactions across all devices, building brand equity by giving each customer a voice and creating unique customer journeys will succeed every time. This is the near future of the customer experience, a personalized journey that users are already starting to seek out and expect. The better you can address your customers’ emotional needs (acknowledgement, appreciation, being nurtured, listened to and being valued), the more you can differentiate from your competitors that don’t provide such a granular level of personalization. How do you envision real-time adaptive marketing for your business? How are you personalizing your customers’ experiences and tightening loyalty to your brand? What type of content would best move your customers forward in your sales funnel? We’d love to hear your thoughts on these exciting changes in content marketing and see how you are approaching real-time strategies to personalize your customers’ experiences. Images: “adapt word cloud business concept in white background/Shutterstock.com“ ________________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.