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The digital social sphere constantly barrages consumers with content from various newsfeeds, social channels, and touchscreen devices.  As a result, generic marketing content tends to get lost in the clutter and becomes ineffective. The decline of this “one-size-fits-all” content strategy has given rise to a new era of highly targeted, personalized marketing. Big data and complex social tools provide companies with capabilities that were never possible in the past — and now, socially savvy brands are coming to life and becoming part of consumers’ conversations.

One brand has taken a unique approach to personalizing their marketing efforts to people — one which, surprisingly enough, sells pet food. On Monday, I casually shot out a happy birthday tweet to my family’s 14-year-old dog Cinnamon, which included an adorable picture of her submerged in a colorful pile of fallen leaves. Come Tuesday morning, I received a well-wishing response from Purina, complete with a filtered, Photoshop’d and text-edited version of my own photo from the day before.

The interaction is below.

purina-personalized-marketing

 

First reaction: “Umm… what?”

Second reaction: “Wow… That’s kind of cool.”

Third reaction: “This deserves a blog post.”

The perks of personalization

It was refreshing to get personal recognition from an international brand for something as insignificant as a dog’s birthday. But surely Purina has better ways to invest their time and talent?

Perhaps not. Personalized marketing efforts like these are becoming more common every day — largely because they’re received more warmly by consumers than their un-personalized counterparts. According to Econsultancy, 52 percent of digital marketers agree that the ability to personalize content is fundamental to their online strategies, compared to just 27 percent who disagree. It’s all about earning the consumer’s trust — and tailored content is the best way to do it.

In a study of 650 multi-channel marketing campaigns performed by MindFire, personalized campaigns consistently and overwhelmingly beat out static campaigns in generating a high response rate from recipients.

Despite the perks of personalization, Neolane & DMA note that 60 percent of marketers struggle to personalize real-time content and 75 percent say that dynamic, personalized content across channels is still in planning stages. These are barriers that companies must overcome sooner rather than later.

The (near) future of personalization

Personalized marketing will continue to become more targeted in 2014. Brands that use it effectively will rise above the fray, while brands that don’t will simply be ignored as white noise. Purina is on the cutting edge of this movement; the brand is building goodwill and rapport, not just with current customers, but any pet owners that may become customers in the future. Expect to see more social media campaigns like this one soon.

Will it get old?

Purina’s simple tweet was unexpectedly flattering, which is why it caught my attention. Yet it was the creative twist on personalized digital marketing that earned the brand this blog post. For now, the tactic is new and refreshing.

But will consumers feel flattered two years from now when every tweet, comment, and status update gets a personalized response from a brand? Not likely. In fact, it will probably be seen as intrusive and annoying. This is a key consideration in the argument between anonymous personalization and permission-based personalization.

Knowing the dynamic nature of digital marketing, it’s likely that brands will find new ways to break down barriers between themselves and consumers by that time. In other words, there will be a new flavor of the week for digital marketers when it comes to connecting with consumers.

What will come after granular personalization in the social sphere? Will anonymous personalized marketing prove to be more effective than permission-based strategies? Share your thoughts with us below!

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