Here’s How to Build Personalized Sales and Marketing Material That Respects Your Audience and Their Privacy

February 8, 2023
Ty Nilsson
December 2, 2021

When it comes to sales and marketing materials, there’s no excuse not to personalize your material to your audience. Once upon a time, companies followed a one-to-all model for their marketing and sales. Consumer segmentation allowed at best a one-to-many approach, but true one-to-one efforts were impossible at scale until digital technology enabled them. Today, customers expect companies to customize their sales and marketing materials directly to them.

Personalization brings rewards. Ninety-one percent of consumers said they were more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them, according to Accenture. Customers are willing to pay for personalization. Ninety percent of consumers surveyed by SmarterHQ said they were willing to share their behavioral data in exchange for a cheaper and easier brand experience.

But despite the rewards, personalization can also hurt sales and marketing efforts. Scholars call it the personalization privacy paradox: Consumers want the benefits of personalization, but a significant segment of them are worried about their privacy. 

As one study put it, “Personalization can both enhance and diminish consumer engagement with the firm: it may heighten privacy concerns because consumers worry about how their data are collected and used, and it can also benefit them in meaningful ways.” 

So how can you design personalized content that reaches the sales and marketing targets you want, while also avoiding the downside of the paradox of personalization? Here are some ideas.

Be Clear About What Personalization Can Do — and Can’t

There’s nothing more cheesy than what’s clearly a form email sent out en masse, except it’s addressed to your name at the top. Clumsy personalization that only draws attention to itself is the opposite of what you want to be doing.

Managing large data sets can be challenging, not to mention extracting actionable insights from them. If you’re using a big data approach, investing in the right customer data platform can help you overcome those obstacles. 

But there’s another way around the challenge. Zero-party data — information that a customer directly gives you about themselves — isn’t just likely to be more accurate. It’s likely to be easier for you to act on as well. 

It can be as simple as building a microapp that asks prospective customers what they’re looking for and then serves that content to them. Imagine a sales brochure for a gym that asks prospective customers what kinds of exercise they’re most interested in, then tailors the material it shows them to their answers.

The further your audience is along in their sales journey, the more effective personalization can be. One study of grocery shoppers found that although personalized offers did not affect which supermarket consumers chose to shop at — location and available products drove those decisions — once they were inside, personal offers altered which products they chose. Think about where your content fits into the sales funnel and ramp up the personalization accordingly.

Ask Your Audience to Buy In

But how do you build personalization into your content when many members of your audience might be skeptical of handing over their personal information?

One way to unravel the personalization paradox is surprisingly simple: Ask people. According to one study, covert personalization efforts — ones that an audience doesn’t see — can make people feel vulnerable. That’s bad. Negative emotions drive people away from your brand — not to it.

On the other hand, overtly asking people for the personal information you’re using to personalize their content makes people feel like you’re taking them seriously. In some cases, asking for permission about personal data isn’t just a good idea. It may be the law. Depending on where you’re doing business, regulatory instruments like the GDPR may require you to follow certain procedures when using personal data.

Imagine a presentation that uses data that’s been gathered by third parties to guess what your sales prospects might be interested in. You could get it right, or you could get it wrong. Instead, a microapp could simply ask them to select what material is most relevant to their needs.

Foster Trust Over Time

A Salesforce report in 2018 found that 54% of customers reported they didn’t believe that companies had their best interests in mind. It’s hard to look around the world and disagree. Younger generations tend to display higher levels of trust around how companies use their data, but no matter what your target audience is, it’s important to demonstrate repeatedly that you’re protecting their information, using it to drive value for them, and allowing them to control the amount they share with you.

Asking your audience for a small initial self-disclosure can also build trust, once they see that you’re protecting their data and providing value in exchange. You might build a microapp that asks sales prospects for their contact information, promising not to spam them irrelevant emails. As you do live up to that promise (of course you will, right?), you’ll earn their trust.

Adding Personality to Personalization

Personalizing your sales and marketing materials is easy with Tiled. Our solutions let you customize what your audience sees and how they interact with your material using our easy-to-use no-code system. As you overcome the paradox of personalization, you’ll find it even easier to drive sales and marketing goals using personalized content.

Sales and Marketing
Content Experience
Engaging Audiences
Ty Nilsson
Sr. Director of Demand Generation at Tiled