As marketing strategy has evolved, we have watched successful applications and tools develop their target audiences and then push out personalized, specific content. Today we are bombarded every day with targeted ads, messages, and even phone calls trying to make our experience as unique and relevant as possible.
With these tactics, we are all part of a broader audience, placed in groups using surface-level data and segmented using demographic information, our interests, location…the list goes on. We all receive offers based on this mass-personalized content that has proven to be successful – according to general statistics and data.
But now that every marketer with a computer and a login is able to track site analytics, what can you do to incorporate marketing that moves beyond broadcasted messaging to actually connecting with customers – and turning you into your industry’s leading online authority?
It’s time to make the move to individualization in design and digital content creation. In 2018, we’ve seen a spike in this move from personalization to individualization, and you can bet this will expand even further in 2019.
But first, what is individualization and how does it differ from personalization?
Personalization in marketing, design, and online content creation promotes the idea that every consumer falls into a group, and we as marketers should target our messaging to these groups to convert. It’s putting your user’s name in the subject line of a MailChimp email or changing your website’s hero image based on the user’s IP address location. Personalization is now seen as a commonplace marketing technique – and you have no excuse as a content creator for not using it. With new hardware processes and constantly growing AI across all industries, personalization is inevitable if you want to stay afloat.
Individualization is what takes personalization the extra mile (or ten miles). It’s the next step in digital content and web design that will evolve marketing past the era of personalization. Individualization takes the user or consumer out of those groups based on surface information to recognize a customer as their own specific set of data in your system. It recognizes consumers in a conversation as “I am me,” not “I am a part of a group of people that are kind of like me.”
Applying the long-establish learning styles to web design and content
Concepts like individualized, personalized, and differentiated learning have long been established in the world of education. Teachers work to gain an understanding of each student as an individual, and how their individual traits can be reflected in the learning style – a nearly impossible task to do in a classroom of 35 students for 50 minutes a day. This is why many educators rely on differentiated learning, which is quite similar to personalized design.
Educators place students into a group based on their learning interests and styles: often based on research and tests, but sometimes based on simple assumptions and stereotypes. Teachers then model their classrooms around these styles – but as marketers have been doing for decades – getting stuck in a rut and never finding the right solution for each individual.
While the terms are different, digital content creators can look to the American education system to recognize the metaphor for their treatment of consumers: throwing them into obscure boxes based on generic demographics and a few pieces of data from a Google search.
This is the information they’re using to develop user experiences on their website!
In reviewing what we have learned (or realizing what we haven’t learned) over decades of badly run classrooms and poorly designed websites, we need to realize there is a better way.
Individualized web design is the best and only way to connect with your users. Consumers now expect to be served exactly what they need or want the second they open your website. With machine learning and the amount of data we are now able to gather, individualization is truly at the tips of our fingers. The hardest part is actually deciding to make the transition, then putting the information in place. Isn’t it time to use all of the data that’s available to you to generate relevant and intimate interactions with your customers?