Personalized Marketing in 2018: The 4 Most Popular Techniques

Personalization is quickly becoming a broad term that can define any number of marketing activities. This is particularly true when it comes to the world of e-commerce where everything from product recommendations to promotional offers can now be individually personalized with some minor segmentation efforts.

The real driver of personalization, of course, is data. Looking ahead then, it’s fair to assume that as our ability to collect and use data increases in sophistication, so too will the ways we personalize our marketing messages.

Why Personalization Matters

Consumer expectations of the brands they interact with are constantly changing. Well-informed and experienced, today’s consumers are a savvy breed who uses new technologies to discover products and services that match their expectations.

As they hunt, they also expect brands to provide an experience that’s relevant  to their particular needs—delivering useful items such as informational content, product highlights, or promotions.

As we look to the year ahead, consumers will continue to reward brands who deliver tailored messaging across every channel point. But what exactly does personalization mean today?

Personalization By Channel

Conversion rates by channel will continue to be heavily influenced by personalization. In particular, search engine marketing, text messaging, emails, and website visit content customization will continue to yield high results. Beyond that, the personalization applied across most alternate channels will likely also continue to show major uplifts in conversions.

The email below is an interesting example of how more and more brands are personalizing around specifc relationship milestones. This tactic aims to capture the attention of consumers who are overloaded with information. 

JetBlue personalizes their emails to capture the attention of consumers overloaded with information.
Source: Hubspot

Where to begin

If you’re just getting into the personalization game, we suggest starting with the channel(s) that are easiest for you to customize. From there, start building tools that will allow you to tailor your messaging based on what you already know about your customer. Email software like MailChimp or SendWithUs as well as lead generation platforms like Clearbit are just a few examples of tools that can help you take the first steps.

Personalization By Technique

Once you select your channel, you’ll next have to decide on the best technique for personalizing your message within that channel (it matters). According to Qubit’s study on over 2 billion e-commerce user journeys, four primary personalization techniques stand out: scarcity, social proof, urgency, and abandonment.


Personalized messaging by scarcity is the simple art of highlighting a limited quantity of the promotion or product offering to encourage shoppers to act quickly on their purchase. This sort of messaging should be designed to match the shopping habits of your consumer to increase the relevance of your offer.

For example, if a customer frequently books a particular hotel through a travel booking site, scarcity personalization, in this case, could be to highlight a limited quantity of rooms remaining in their favored hotel. It’s likely they’ll act quickly to snag a room.

Travel booking sites also commonly highlight high-demand flights or hotels to drive immediate online reservations. Notice the "before it's too late" in the call to action:

Travel booking sites commonly highlight high-demand flights or hotels to drive immediate online reservations.

Social Proof

Social proof is the act of leveraging the behavior and trends of others as they apply to a particular product or service in order to encourage a similar behavior by your consumer.

Many online retailers use social proof to show shoppers what other shoppers are interested in. Take the fast-fashion site Forever 21 whose site presents shoppers with a list of popular products that other shoppers also buy along with the main product they’re viewing.


This sort of social proof essentially gives the shopper the inside scoop on what their peers are buying while also validating their purchasing decision.


Urgency is a technique quite similar to scarcity, yet instead of quantity limitations, it’s the duration of the offer that’s limited. These are often presented as limited-time offers, such as a coupon that expires after a specific date. This can also extend to loyalty programs whereby a certain action is encouraged within a set timeframe in return for a special reward (such as bonus points or limited merchandise).

Amazon frequently employs the urgency technique as part of its Today’s Deal offerings—highlighting the time remaining to take part in each deal with a live countdown clock.



Abandonment has long been the bane of the e-commerce marketer. And for a good reason considering some 69% of shoppers walk away from a site before making a purchase.

It’s no surprise then that customized messaging aimed to dissuade abandonment and drive customer retention remain popular. Typically, efforts in this regards are aimed primarily at reducing site abandonment and cart abandonment.

Site abandonment personalization typically happens while a customer is on your site and appears ready to navigate away. To intercept shoppers before they leave, many brands now use machine-learning tools, like SalesCycle or SAP Hybris, to send a targeted pop-up message just when a visitor appears like they’re about to jump ship.

This technique aims to create a personal connection with browsing consumers in the hopes of converting them into an actual buyer before their visit is over.

E-commerce retailers are increasingly turning to on-site machine learning tools to help them convert browsing shoppers.

Cart abandonment personalization, on the other hand, is usually performed through a follow-up communication, such as an email to remind your shopper of their waiting items.

The further you go into personalizing your messaging the greater the impact of these techniques. So whether messaging your shopper on-site or by follow-up email, be sure to include language that shows you’re paying attention to your buyer and their journey.

Start Today

Understanding how to personalize to your customers means first understanding who your customers are and what they need. But remember, you don’t need to figure everything out right away. Every personalization program requires a good mix of data and experimentation over time. Start by working with the channel(s) you’re most comfortable with, find the right tools, and begin working with the appropriate techniques listed above.

Also, remember that as technology and your customers evolve, so will your tailored messaging efforts. Just be sure to get started. Engaging your customers through personalization is no longer just a nice-to-have.

Personalize your engagement across gift cards, points and promotions.

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