Hyper-personalization is the latest buzzword in marketing. It's no longer enough to be personal... you have to add some hyperbole to it. It's the next level of tailored content attuned to the needs of your leads and customers.

But when you really think about it, content is either personal or not personal. If you're making distinctions among levels of personalization, you're probably not doing all you can to actually connect with people on their level—and there's nothing "hyper" about that.

So what does it mean to be personal? Simply using someone's name in your messaging is not personalization; these days, it's the expected minimum. To be truly, authentically personal, you must understand the unique needs of your leads or customers and address them specifically in your content.

Personalization is a conversation. It's relevance. It's delivering the right message at the right time to the right person. Above all, it isn't about you.

Consumers know all that: Companies such as Amazon that do personalization well have spoiled everyone by building a model entirely around highly relevant communications and recommendations. And as we marketers ask for more and more information from customers, there's a new expectation that companies will use it intelligently and not waste customers' time with irrelevant messages.

So how can you go from a company that pushes out information to one that truly engages in conversation?

Start with who your customers are and find out what they want

Who are your most likely customers, really? Their titles and demographics tell only a small sliver of their story and how your company might fit in. That's where personas come in.

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image of Justin Gray

Justin Gray is the CEO of LeadMD. He founded the company with a vision to transform marketing via the use of marketing automation and CRM solutions. Reach him via jgray@leadmd.com.

Twitter: @jgraymatter