Personalize Your Marketing The Google Way

It’s safe to say that Google, the worldwide leader in search, knows a thing or two about beating out competition and increasing loyalty.

Over the last 12 years, Google has built their empire on a seemingly simple function: providing relevant information to their “customers” (searchers). Even with a 70% market share, Google continues to develop their search tool to increase the relevance and personalization of their searches to individual users.

Good news! You don’t need an 11-digit annual revenue to communicate with your prospects and customers with Google-like relevancy and personalization. Let’s look at three techniques Google is using to increase the satisfaction and loyalty of their users, and how direct marketers can do the same.

Three Personalization Tactics You Should Steal From Google

1) Target Geographically

Google local search results

Just like you know the physical addresses of your contacts, Google knows where you’re searching from (based on your IP address or account info), and loves serving you localized versions of search results. Sometimes, they even include a handy map to show you how to get to your favorite taco stand or printing company.

Whether you’re locally-based or a franchise with thousands of locations, geographically personalizing your communications can be helpful for recipients, and increase your response and sales.

Ways to implement geographic targeting and personalization in your marketing:

  • Use imagery that matches the region or environment of your recipients. It never snows in Phoenix, so don’t send your customers there a holiday card featuring a snowman (they prefer the Christmas Cactus).
  • Values and even language choices can vary by region, and even city-dwellers as compared to suburbanites. Depending on your product (is it “pop,” “soda” or “coke?”) or service, you may need to version your benefits messaging to match what’s important and familiar to your audiences.
  • Need to increase foot traffic for a new location? Try mailing local homes or businesses an offer, and include a variable map with driving directions from their location. We’ve seen this done with great results.

2) Track Behaviors To Increase Relevancy

Google search personalization screen.

Near the end of last year, Google rolled out “personalized search results,” which customizes the results searchers are served based on the search results they’ve clicked in the past and the sites they’ve visited. “Big Brother” fears aside, this optional feature does improve the relevancy of search results, ultimately improving the users’ experience and satisfaction.

Like Google, most organizations store large amounts of data on their customers, including purchase and usage history. By integrating with their customer database or CRM system, marketers can respond to customer behaviors with highly-relevant and perfectly-timed communications designed to up-sell, cross-sell, retain, or win-back customers.

Behavior tracking can also be used in lead generation and nurturing by responding to a lead’s actions, such as a website visit or resource download, with automated, multi-channel campaigns.

Examples of Behavior-Based Marketing Personalization:

  • If you’ve shopped, you’ve most like received follow-up emails with similar or complementary products to those you’ve purchased or browsed. Now, with variable data printing, there’s no reason you can’t do this with direct mail and catalog marketing as well.
  • If you deliver statements or notifications to your customers, it’s time to turn them into “transpromo” communications that highlight complimentary services.
  • Set up automatic alerts to inform your sales or customer service team when a customer has missed a regular order, or automatically trigger a “We’ve missed you” email or mail piece, with an incentive to bring them back.

3) Serve Information In The Medium They Prefer

For a while now, Google and their competitors have been improving their tools for searches for images, videos, blogs and other channels, knowing that different users prefer different mediums. With Google’s recent redesign, they’ve made these options even more prominent, helping users access the information they’re searching for, in whatever format they need.

Because there are a finite number of leads and customers out there, it’s important to make sure you’re getting through to as large a percentage of your target audience as possible. You can increase your chances of reaching contacts by serving your message in various mediums (email, mail, online, phone call, text, video, social, etc.). In a study by Epsilon, companies using multi-channel marketing achieved an average 11% sales lift.

Ideas for Implementing Multi-Channel Marketing:

  • Create multi-channel drip campaigns that automatically nurture a lead or customer over time, using various mediums. The technology is already out there to do this.
  • Use triggers to automatically detect multiple unopened email messages, and auto-deploy a mail piece to that lead or customer.
  • Backup your traditional marketing pushes with complementary efforts on your social networks.
  • 67% of online actions are driven by offline messages (iProspect Study); send a mail piece driving recipients to a customized landing page.

Ready to Beat Google to Their Next Big Thing?

There are rumors that Google is beginning to factor in which entries searchers click on to determine which entries they should serve more prominently, placing the items that proved most relevant to other users higher in search results.

This tactic has been in used by direct marketers for decades, since long before Google was even a twinkle in the eyes of Larry Page and Sergey Brin: it’s called testing.

Whether you’re ready to try geographic or behavior-based personalization or are considering trying a new marketing channel, it’s important (and easier than you would think) to test audience, creative and offer variations. You’ll increase the ROI of your marketing, and provide your leads and prospects the relevance they’ve been searching for.

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