If someone showed up at your front door trying to sell you a new roof, odds are you’d pass — especially if you had no interest in putting on a new roof. Now, let’s say you were interested in a new roof, and somehow the roofer knew it — he wouldn’t necessarily make a sale, but he’d probably be one step closer.

What if he also knew some of your big concerns, like how much the roof would cost, how long it would last, whether it came with a warranty, and how long it would take to install? What if he knew your name? What if he knew you’d had some bad experiences with contractors in the past? Would he make a sale under those circumstances? It’s hard to say, but odds are he’d be on the right track.

You Don’t Even Know Me

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is plunging headlong into a sales pitch before they’ve established trust. Why would someone buy anything from you — much less a high-ticket item — if they didn’t know you, and you didn’t know them?

That’s the essence of inbound marketing, that massive paradigm shift in which forward-thinking marketers came to understand the increasing wariness of today’s consumers, and decided to offer them content they could use.

Why Personalization Is So Important

Trust, the cornerstone of inbound selling, can be hard to come by. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen in the absence of a relationship between seller and buyer.

Those relationships happen when the buyer, over time, warms up to the notion that the seller knows who he is, and what he cares about. That’s why personalizing your marketing is so critically important, a point that the Digital Marketing Institute persuasively drives home:

“Nearly three-fourths (74%) of online consumers get frustrated by websites with content (e.g. offers, ads, promotions) that has nothing to do with their interests. Personalizing your marketing messages allows you to tailor promotional messages to customers by identifying unique customer traits. This allows you to reach customers on an individual level instead of pushing one message out to the masses.”

What’s in It for Me?

The simple answer is that personalizing your marketing will result in more sales—but there are other benefits. For example, the more you personalize your marketing campaigns, the more business intelligence you’ll gather (like customer purchase histories and online behavior), which is useful data for your sales team.

You’ll also gain valuable analytics insights, growing your understanding of which strategies work, and which don’t. Finally, when you personalize marketing, you don’t just make more sales — you also gain sufficient trust to build a cohort of loyal customers (aka “brand advocates”), eager to tell their friends and family members how great you are, and, in this way, amplifying your marketing exposure.

OK, But How Do You Do It?

Every business is different, and the tactics you use to personalize marketing for your business will be different from what one of your competitors might push. That said, there are some strategies which work for all businesses, including the following 3:

1. Start with a Smart Strategy

Creating a strategy for personalization begins by identifying your marketing goals. For example, are you trying to build trust, increase sales, generate more leads or encourage repeat visits to your website? Second, identify the marketing resources you’ll need to accomplish those goals. Will you need to purchase CRM software, retrain your customer service staff, or optimize your website?

Finally, be clear about the brand messages you’re attempting to promote — “personalization” doesn’t exist in the abstract. It’s a way of not only telling prospective customers you know who they are, but also of communicating clearly and compelling who you are, and what you value.

2. Find out Who Your Customers Are

You can’t tell customers you know who they are if you don’t know who they are, right? The next step is to gather as much information as you can about them. This could come from your CRM, focus groups, or surveys and questionnaires you distribute. You’ll also find a lot of intelligence from your analytics program (for example, what web pages and content people like, and which have high bounce rates).

You can also learn a good deal by following conversations on social media sites. Don’t worry: you can bet people are talking about your business on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — you simply need to start listening, and to start becoming a part of the conversation.

3. Choose Your Tactics

Now that you have a strategy and the business intelligence to carry it out, you need to decide what specific tactics you’ll leverage to achieve your goals. Again, those tactics need to be specific to your business, and your strategic goals. You could, for example, use email marketing (segmented by buyer personas and personalized using customer data) and marketing automation tools.

Alternately (or additionally), you could send content customized to the needs and problems of different market segments. You might also institute a social media campaign in which you respond to customer comments and provide recommendations that help them get the information they need and want. Whatever tactics you employ, the key is to ensure that your messaging is consistent and aligned with your customers’ needs.

According to Monetate, almost 80% of businesses that exceed their revenue goals have a documented marketing personalization strategy. Add to this metric Accenture’s finding that 75% of consumers want to buy from companies which know their names and make buying recommendations based on their purchase history, and the benefits of personalization come into sharp focus.

For businesses which are new to digital marketing, and those which struggle to achieve their marketing goals, however, executing a successful personalization plan can be challenging. To learn more about the ways our branding, design, experiential and social media solutions can help you generate qualified leads, boost conversions, drive sales and grow your business, contact us today.