Personalized Marketing: 3 Tips For Getting It Right

Erica Vialardi

Did you know that some of today’s most famous digital innovators share a very specific and unexpected aspect of their life stories? This was a bit of a revelation to me, and I feel it sheds some light on the relationship between consumer behavior, technology, and 21st-century marketing strategies.

From wooden learning towers to digital disruption

During a presentation about co-design that I attended some months ago, there was a genuine “wow” moment when the speaker unveiled that Larry Page, Jimmy Wales, and Jeff Bezos, to name just a few, share not only success, but also the same primary education at Montessori schools, where the freedom to express one’s own self without following pre-packaged programs and rules is an underlying principle.

The purpose of this blog is not to assess fields of education, but this peculiar common thread could convey something big: Their education may have helped those business leaders identify and, more importantly, put into effect, their very individual nature and talents, rather than fitting into a conventional behavioral mold. This could be one of the reasons they became great innovators with the ability to disrupt the status quo of global business from the ground up.

Millennials thumb their noses at traditional marketing segmentation

The above-mentioned tech innovators may just be the forerunners of a broader trend that has put the individual, with its natural propensities, acquired skills, and human contradictions, at the center of marketing and commerce decisions. Executing market segmentation has never been more difficult.

What criteria can one possibly use to segment a market where even the “nerd par excellence” Mark Zuckerberg is also a classic and Latin culture enthusiast, or where Apple hires Neapolitan philosophy graduates to develop its products? It seems that self-expression, cross-pollination between historically siloed skills, and some irreverence toward establishment act as common denominators not only of the tech elite, but also of the much-touted Generation Y—or millennials—as a whole. Just open your social media apps on your smartphone and you will witness live the increasing blurring of boundaries between professional and private identities.

Brands can unlock a huge market potential

To respond to those market changes, brands have made a dramatic shift in their marketing approaches. Long gone are the days of old-school, mass-advertising (according to a recent study by Elite Daily, only 1% of millennials say they are influenced in any way by advertising). Today, companies are running to win the complete race of personalized marketing.

Digitalization has provided consumers with tools—the smartphone above all—that empower them to access and research information freely, share it among new social aggregation schemes, and, when it comes to their behavior as consumers, actively design and rate their own shopping experiences. Today, engagement on social channels, crowdsourcing, and the design of individualized buying experiences are business imperatives that brands must embrace to stay in the game. It’s a game where a huge potential is at stake: millennials indeed act as trailblazers of much vaster groups of consumers who expect brands to address their growing personal requirements.

The dark side of individualization

Give consumers the exact experience they desire, where and when they want it. This ideal-sounding description hides some pitfalls which marketers should carefully monitor. The trend toward individualization in consumer behavior indeed reflects a more general tendency in (first-world) society – and not always a good one.

Provocative theories about individualization seem to multiply, such as the flip side of an excess of self-care, which may be a detriment to the sense of community, or no less, the lure of getting back to tribes. Caution is highly recommended, as the general sentiment about individualization may change quickly. Aside from these apocalyptic scenarios, if marketers keep in mind only one warning, it would be this: Use your customer data wisely.

As my colleague Johann Wrede puts it in spot-on words, beware of “the creepy factor of marketing” and ask yourselves: How do you use customers’ personal information without it feeling like a violation of their privacy? To deliver individualized customer experiences, you need to know what to do with your customer data to keep them engaged.

How to make the best personalized marketing decisions

Individualization may therefore be a double-edge sword, but by making the right decisions you can actually have your cake and eat it, too. In more decorous business words, you can offer contextual, individualized experiences to your customers while respecting their “individual propensity to individualization.”

Here are three fundamental principles behind any successful strategy to market to an “audience of one:”

  1. Consolidate customer profiles across the enterprise: Data is the fuel to develop your personalization strategy. Capture rich customer information, with a special focus on online behavior data, consolidate it across the enterprise, and you will be able to identify and treat your customers as individuals.
  1. Capture your customer intents in real time: To access and evaluate customer intents in real time, you need to leverage both explicit and implicit consumer behavior. Sophisticated micro-segmentation capabilities are a must, but the ongoing management of customer communities, or the identification of hidden trends through predictive analysis, will enable you to access and evaluate your customer’s intents better than your competitors.
  1. Respond to customer opportunities with speed and agility: Deliver in-the-moment, personalized, and relevant experiences across all touchpoints, channels, devices, and departments. For example capture your customer’s interest at the store, follow up with targeted ads, personalize their view of the website, and not least, send them dynamic product recommendations in a remarketing email.

Engaged customers are loyal customers

By all accounts, it looks like brand loyalty is growing again, especially among the highest-potential group of consumers today: millennials. Marketers who haven’t gotten their personalization strategies right yet should do so now, because the next frontier of marketing is already in sight, and it is called “empathy marketing”—the ability to create a personal connection with every individual consumer. Solutions and tools that enable companies to establish genuine conversations and engage with their customers on social channels do exist.

Empathize, but don’t be creepy. Reach this delicate balance and you’re on track to win the prize at the end of the individualization game: customer loyalty.

For more insight on personalized marketing, see Engage At Scale: Leveraging Customer Micro-Moments.


Five Goals For Small Business Owners For 2018

Aaron Solomon

Once you’ve wrapped up 2017, you should be hitting the ground running in 2018 for continued success. Here are five goals every small business owner should set for themselves in 2018.

Analyze 2017

While 2017 is over, don’t let it be forgotten. Review how your business performed and what drove revenue. Also pay attention to what didn’t work as well as you’d have liked and allocate your budgets and efforts accordingly. Learn from your successes and failures and use this information to set yourself up for success in 2018!

Increase your customer loyalty

In 2018, all of your competitors will (or should be) trying to take your customers. You should ensure that you have a plan in place for keeping them. Retailers may want to consider a loyalty points program or special promotions targeted at your existing customer base. Even if your business is not retail oriented, take the time to make sure your customers know that they are valued and that there is a benefit to staying with you.

Focus on your employees

A healthy business needs a competent, well-performing workforce. Take steps to not only retain your top performers, but attract top new talent. If you have staff that are not meeting expectations, coach them to improve performance or, if necessary, considering managing them out of your organization. Don’t let staffing hold you back!

Improve your social media marketing

Each passing year, social media marketing is more and more important for driving sales and ensuring success. If you don’t have a social media presence and marketing strategy, make it part of your goals for 2018 to get one started. If you already have one, make sure you’re taking the proper steps to improve it based on your 2017 performance.

Plan for expansion

A good mindset to have is that if you’re not growing, you’re falling behind. Your most threatening competitors will be working hard to grow their businesses, so don’t let them outpace you. Big or small, prioritize developing and executing a growth plan for 2018 to improve your market position!

For more tips on running your small business, visit the SAP Anywhere Customer Success Blog.


About Aaron Solomon

Aaron Solomon is the head of Training and Content Development for SAP Anywhere. With a dedicated history in knowledge management and consulting, he is driven to provide quality information to customers and help them understand how best to grow their businesses. His areas of expertise include e-commerce management, data analysis, and leveraging technology to improve efficiency.

Adapting To The Digital Sales Revolution

Arif Johari

Is social selling at a tipping point?

“That magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, spreads like wildfire.” – Malcolm Gladwell

Social selling is impacting how sales and marketing teams collaborate, accelerate business, and engage customers. With the technology that supports social selling constantly changing, do the behaviours that make a great social seller need to change too?

The modern buyer requires a modern seller

Charlene Li, principal analyst at Altimeter, wrote in the report, The Transformation of Selling: How Digital Enables Seamless Selling: “Selling must transform because the ways customers buy have changed.”

Forrester’s Mary Shea put it this way in B2B Buyers Make The Case For Better Marketing And Sales Alignment: “Your buyers want contextual interactions with both human and digital assets across a holistic but non-linear journey. They want their experiences with salespeople to be high value or frictionless.”

Sales and marketing reps will be obsolete in two years if they do not adapt

Changing times begets a need for a change in behavior. Look at what email did for communications, the computer took away from the typewriter, CRM did for the world of customer service and sales force automation (SFA) for sales.

Sales and marketing professionals must be aligned with a common understanding of the current buyer’s needs. We must meet the buyer in their digitally connected, socially engaged, mobile-attached, and video-hungry preferences. Today’s buyer wants to talk only with professionals who can add demonstrable value.

Myth: Digital selling is the same as social selling

Incorrect. Social is a component of digital.

Digital selling is understanding how to align the mindset, skillset, and toolset to engage, connect, and grow a relationship through any digital platform—social, video, email, messaging, etc.

“Social does not take the place of a handshake, but it turns a handshake into a hug.” – Brian Fanzo

How to adapt to the digital sales revolution through a social approach

1. Update your LinkedIn profile from a resume to a resource

The more value you can bring to your audience, the more likely that they will become fans, referral partners, and clients.

The litmus test: Does your profile get your buyers excited to take your call? If the answer is yes, then your profile is working for you and your customers!

2. Recognize that Twitter and LinkedIn are like peanut butter and jelly: perfect together

If LinkedIn is your primary social media platform, don’t ignore the power of Twitter.

Add your LinkedIn URL to your Twitter profile. When you have a new targeted follower, start a conversation and invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn.

If your profile is positioned correctly, they will learn much more about you as a thought leader and you can begin to move them forward in the buyer’s journey.

3. Schedule time every single day to work on LinkedIn prospecting.

Treat that time as if you were with a client.

Don’t let your prospecting time get interrupted – it’s the number-one thing you can do to get in front of new clients.

Social selling has become such a hot topic that Coffee-Break with Game Changers is dedicating an entire series to exploring its various facets and promoting best practices for salespeople. To listen to other shows in this series, visit the SAP Radio area of the SAP News Center.


Arif Johari

About Arif Johari

He is a Communications lead, Digital Marketing generalist, and Social Selling advocate. He trains marketing and sales employees to become experts in Social Selling so that they’d leverage social media as a leads-generation tool. He is responsible for executing innovative marketing strategies to increase engagement in social media, customer community, and landing pages through content, events, and A/B testing. He is passionate in making the work processes of the marketing and sales team more efficient, so that they can generate more revenue in a shorter time.

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.

Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?

Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.

There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.

Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.

Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu


How Manufacturers Can Kick-Start The Internet Of Things In 2018

Tanja Rueckert

Part 1 of the “Manufacturing Value from IoT” series

IoT is one of the most dynamic and exciting markets I am involved with at SAP. The possibilities are endless, and that is perhaps where the challenges start. I’ll be sharing a series of blogs based on research into knowledge and use of IoT in manufacturing.

Most manufacturing leaders think that the IoT is the next big thing, alongside analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. They see these technologies dramatically impacting their businesses and business in general over the next five years. Researchers see big things ahead as well; they forecast that IoT products and investments will total hundreds of billions – or even trillions – of dollars in coming decades.

They’re all wrong.

The IoT is THE Big Thing right now – if you know where to look.

Nearly a third (31%) of production processes and equipment and non-production processes and equipment (30%) already incorporate smart device/embedded intelligence. Similar percentages of manufacturers have a company strategy implemented or in place to apply IoT technologies to their processes (34%) or to embed IoT technologies into products (32%).

opportunities to leverage IoTSource:Catch Up with IoT Leaders,” SAP, 2017.

The best process opportunities to leverage the IoT include document management (e.g. real-time updates of process information); shipping and warehousing (e.g. tracking incoming and outgoing goods); and assembly and packaging (e.g. production monitoring). More could be done, but figuring out where and how to implement the IoT is an obstacle for many leaders. Some 44 percent of companies have trouble identifying IoT opportunities and benefits for either internal processes or IoT-enabled products.

Why so much difficulty in figuring out where to use the IoT in processes?

  • No two industries use the IoT in the same way. An energy company might leverage asset-management data to reduce costs; an e-commerce manufacturer might focus on metrics for customer fulfillment; a fabricator’s use of IoT technologies may be driven by a need to meet exacting product variances.
  • Even in the same industry, individual firms will apply and profit from the IoT in unique ways. In some plants and processes, management is intent on getting the most out of fully depreciated equipment. Unfortunately, older equipment usually lacks state-of-the-art controls and sensors. The IoT may be in place somewhere within those facilities, but it’s unlikely to touch legacy processes until new machinery arrive. 

Where could your company leverage the IoT today? Think strategically, operationally, and financially to prioritize opportunities:

  • Can senior leadership and plant management use real-time process data to improve daily decision-making and operations planning? Do they have the skills and tools (e.g., business analytics) to leverage IoT data?
  • Which troublesome processes in the plant or front office erode profits? With real-time data pushed out by the IoT, which could be improved?
  • Of the processes that could be improved, which include equipment that can – in the near-term – accommodate embedded intelligence, and then communicate with plant and enterprise networks?

Answer those questions, and you’ve got an instant list of how and where to profit from the IoT – today.

Stay tuned for more information on how IoT is developing and to learn what it takes to be a manufacturing IoT innovator. In the meantime, download the report “Catch Up with IoT Leaders.”


Tanja Rueckert

About Tanja Rueckert

Tanja Rueckert is President of the Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain Business Unit at SAP.