The evolution of marketing from mass to personalized

According to Wikipedia, the practice of marketing has been known for millennia but the term “marketing” used to describe commercial activities buying and selling products and services came into popular use in the late nineteenth century.

Marketing for a very long time was about advertising to the masses. Campaigns were generally featuring a product or a service. The first campaigns were for newspaper use, moving to billboards (along busy roads, in train stations or airports) and then moving to television advertising. What always interested me was the fact that most ad campaigns were done by an agency or a person for all audiences. I remember discussing this with a UK agency and asking them what their plan was to adapt the campaign to another culture, they replied stating that translation was organized. But this is not about translation this is about matching a marketing message to a culture. Yes, language is important because if you do not speak the language you will miss the point, but what is most important is to make sure the culture is taken into consideration. This is a commonly overlooked.
In any case, the 3 types of advertising/ marketing campaigns I mentioned above are what we call one directional and one message to all with no adaptation or engagement.
For the past 20 years, marketing campaigns have evolved. Thanks to the internet, campaigns are well targeted (most of the time) and messages are well adapted to their crowd. Banners on websites, email campaigns (the least effective in my opinion), social networks, blogs, forums and Google searches ensure that you get the right message at the right time.
“Older” style campaigns still exist but they are not as efficient and their costs have diminished tremendously.
Going back to my list above, banners advertising is very targeted because they appear on web sites where your customers go. You know that you will get good click through rates and you know that your messages will be read and people will engage with them.
Email campaigns when they target niche markets can be very efficient. They convey the right message to the right people and most of the time at the right time. If emails are sent to millions of people, then you are back in the mass marketing and you will not be successful.
Social networks when used wisely and smartly can be the most efficient way to convey a message.
          Twitter will allow you to read and receive tweets that only interest you. The AI involved in the algorithm learns from your interests through keywords and the more you use it, the more efficient it becomes. Thanks to its 140 characters, you are engaged to a small text and if you are interested, you can click the link in the message and then get a full article. Even if you use robots, you will have to specify your keywords and so only the stories you are interested in will appear. This is a great tool for engagement.
          Facebook, will allow you to interact and engage through photos and now videos. Again, if you create your page on FB, only the stories that interests you will appear. Ads on FB will be very targeted and you will get the right message at the right time. Facebook is seen as a family and friend platform so the drawback could be that your family and friends are not interested in your business-related advertising but looking at the audience on FB, it is worth a try.
          YouTube will allow you to engage through videos and keywords. Again, it is a very personalized platform as you are not going to watch a video that you are not interested in. Companies can then bring together their products and services with you through engaging videos.
          LinkedIn will allow you to advertise to specific people with specific background or specific interests. The more you communicate on LinkedIn the more precise it becomes (same as Twitter, great algorithms using AI). LinkedIn allows you also to create a company page and you can use it as a blog and publish posts that will smartly advertise about a product or a service.
          Plenty of other platforms (Viadeo in France, Xing in Germany…)
Blogs allow you to show the world about a specific know how. If you use blogs to answer real problems that companies face, then you will interest a potential customer. Do not use blogs to advertise your company, use blogs to show that you have thought about the problems surrounding a specific market and explain how you would solve that problem.
Forums allow you to answer people’s issues on a product or on a service. It can show your knowledge to people interested in your particular sector and will eventually lead people to understand why it is worth while doing business with you.
Finally, Google searches and Google advertising are important because Google controls the market. It allows you to advertise your company and product everywhere at any time. Someone searches your keyword, they will find you. Someone searches a company in a specific market, they will find you. Someone searches a specific product in a specific location… guess what? Yes, they will find you.
What is very interesting today is to understand the cross use of all ways to do marketing. For example, you can do a campaign on TV and then broadcast it on YouTube (offline and online), you can do a bill board campaign and a digital game asking people to locate where the campaign took place… Digital marketing allows you to be personalized, engaged and broadcast to all like the “older” type of advertising.
One very important element of this evolution of marketing is the use of data in digital marketing. Today you have all types of analytics (web, mobile, tag…) that gives companies a clear picture of who comes to their website and what they do. For ecommerce sites the benefit is huge because you can analyze basket activity and all type of purchases.
Once you know what people do online you can start applying predictive analytics. This means that you then know before your customer, what they are likely to purchase and when. Some consider this scary but very powerful. This means that you will not run out of products and that you will see these products within a given timeline decreasing your stock value. Your customer will always be happy and your accounting will be optimized.
In order to have predictive analytics, you will need a big data structure and some analysis done by some clusters. Today many companies allow this at a reasonable price and without technical knowledge.
The combination of analytics and predictive analytics will allow you to know your customers and prospects better and will optimize your marketing spent, your marketing reach and the engagement you will create between your brand and people interacting with it (customers, prospects, investors, employees…). Nothing will be a surprise and you will understand people’s behavior well.
Once you have the knowledge about people’s preferences and behavior in front of a buying decision, you will be able to have personalized pricing for your customers. Today we call that “dynamic pricing” but it is pretty much personalized pricing. Dynamic pricing is based on weather conditions, demand and day of the week. You probably have noticed already that when you purchase a plane ticket that every day the price changes. This is because some days of the week, the airline has noticed that some routes are more popular than others leading to higher demand and fill rates. Then prices go up. The same happens with online purchase of games. Over weekends, prices are higher because more people want to buy for their weekend. However, on a Monday or a Tuesday prices are lower. When the weather forecasts hot temperature, buying drinks or ice cream will be more expensive. Some very powerful algorithms that take all parameters into consideration in order to optimize for the seller in all situations calculate all of this. Do you want to buy and optimize for you? Then plan ahead, understand how algorithms are built and enjoy the economy of personnalisation.
In conclusion, marketing has become very personalized and engaged to a level we had not anticipated before. Today you get the right message at the right time.
This is what we do in gamification. Thanks to Gabe Zichermann, we use the SAPS model:
          Status:  Offer a different status to different people. This is free for a company but very sticky to a customer
          Access: Offer a specific VIP access to people. Very engaging, it costs a little bit to a company and it is sticky to a customer
          Power: Like in game, offer specific skills to people so they will succeed in their environment. Less sticky and it costs more to people
          Stuff: Offer a price to people who win a game challenge. This is pricey and not sticky as people will forget who gave then the prize
Gamification is the best example of personalized and engagement marketing. We could invent campaigns that work for a specific customer by designing the game specifically, incentivising the game accordingly, we could even choose the colors based on the customer’s behavior.
What else could we see coming? The rise of Virtual Reality (VR) could mean that companies could bring you to a virtual world where their products and services are there for you to try before buying.
You would be so engaged and totally immersed in their world that they would be able to make you comfortable with your decision to purchase. It would be the ultimate engagement. I have not yet seen any advertising in a virtual world but if you believe in marketing concepts, it will come one day.

Today we have reached a new milestone in marketing and campaigns. I think the next 10 years will show different levels of marketing that will be more personalized and more engaged. I am so looking forward to it.