Article - Marketing

Are you Marketing to Me?! Personalization at Scale

This week I told a colleague I was writing a piece about “mass personalization,” and she remarked that the term sounds like a “total oxymoron.” 

She wasn’t wrong! A personal experience with a brand is centered around a feeling of customization, intimacy, and trust. This is a sentiment you’d usually expect from a small, familiar operation.  

But chances are – since you’re reading this – your customer base spans beyond that of a Dickensian farmer’s market town, so you’ll likely be asking yourself, how do we make customers feel as though we are listening to them on a personal level? And how can our marketing campaigns reflect this? 

“Ever since I first got into marketing 20+ years ago…” Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer of Boots shares at a GDS Group CMO Summit, “I’ve dreamed of being able to connect with people individually: A message, an offer, a piece of communication that is timely and relevant… at exactly the right moment.” 

Markey’s excitement at the changing landscape of personalized digital marketing is matched by the scale of the task at hand for his organization; with almost half of all beauty products in the UK now being purchased at Boots.  

And against the backdrop of COVID – which saw 78% of customers say that they expected companies to use the crises in 2020 as a catalyst for improvement Markey acknowledges that “historic brand love” for a 170-year-old business would not suffice in retaining a customer’s unwavering loyalty.  

What really matters is how relevant you are in people’s lives.”
-Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer of Boots 

Salesforce’s findings support Markey’s perspective, as they reported 66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, yet 66% say they’re generally treated like numbers. 

So how has Boots navigated this? What tools are they using? What is working?  

In his keynote presentation, Markey includes a four-step plan that of course, places the most important four-letter word at the helm: data.  

In 4 Steps: Showing ‘Our Role’ in People’s Lives 

During the pandemic, Boots’ campaign centers around “Prescribed Kindness,” which is brought to life using data as follows: 

1. Strategic Intent 

Establishing “what the customer is looking for from us” in the landscape of a pandemic. This involves an attitudinal shift since customers’ expectations and needs from Boots changed dramatically, almost overnight.
Markey notes that customers display a clear desire to find the “best advice and support”  in a climate of unknown.  

2. Leaning In to different personal groups  

Analyzing and identifying different clusters of consumers, and asking both:  

  • What would different groups of people be looking for from us?  
  • How do their wants differ between groups?

3. Insight 

Using search intent data, social-listening, and consumer behavior analysis to dig into what customers want, need, and what matters to them most.  (YouGov, Kantar and Statista play key roles in Boots’ analysis.) 

4. Content Plan 

Finally, from the findings of stages 1-3, a flexible content plan can be created. Boots was able to use their knowledge of what different groups were looking for in their asset delivery.  

Markey refers to a case study which underpinned the learning that customers, against the backdrop of COVID, were looking for the best advice and support:
Boots rolls out their “Question of the Day” content, where the organization’s Chief Pharmacist would answer questions built around social listening and search intent data. To personalize the experience, Boots built different edits for different audience groups.  

Markey shares that their Instagram view through rate (VTR) reached 17% versus the benchmark of 7.2%.  

In the same vein, Boots emails switched from selling to offering advice and support, resulting in an open rate increase of 75%. 

Proceed With Caution  

It’s undeniable, personalization is the new marketing strategist’s bread and butter. Harnessed with care, it drives groundbreaking results. Smarter HQ found that  72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging and Accenture found that 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more a personalized experience. 

But, to paraphrase Spiderman – with mass personalization, comes great responsibility. 

Get it wrong, and consumers are quick to snap.  

As we set out on our personalization strategies, the stakes are high: Get it right and you create an intimate experience where a customer feels listened to, and your brand carves a unique role in their lives.  

Get it wrong and you may get blocked on Instagram. 

GDS Summits are tailored 3-day virtual event conferences that bring together business leaders and solution providers to accelerate sales cycles, industry conversations and outcomes. Regarding the Digital Marketing Summit 78% of Delegates said the Digital Summit provided them with actionable outcomes to support their current initiatives and 80% of Solution Providers said they would be interested in sponsoring future events.  

For more, click here to hear from attendees on how GDS has helped them to achieve their business outcomes.  

Continue the debate at GDS’ Digital Marketing Summits where we bring together senior marketing executives who are actively seeking to share, learn, engage, and find the best solutions.  

Apply to Attend 

Back to insights

Related content

Marketing
Article

How data driven approaches create seamless customer experiences

Companies with data-driven approaches are 6 times more likely to be profitable year-on-year, and 23 times more likely to acquire new customers.
Marketing
Article

What is the future of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)?

The focus must be on creating a strategic and resilient brand strategy that keeps pace with modern consumers.
Marketing
Article

How To Balance Risk And Reward In Controversial Marketing

2020 brought a new digital consumer to the mainstream – but how can marketers create campaigns that reliably deliver results whilst also engaging in c
Marketing
Article

What is Authentic Engagement and how should it move with the Zeitgeist?

The breakdown of the traditional marketing model isn’t news at this stage, but the steady pressures of quarantine and economic uncertainty have made t
Marketing
Article

The Digital Customer Experience and the Impact of Content

There are two defining truths in marketing today. First, content is the great leveler in helping to define your brand and tone, and second, providing
Marketing
Article

How to Drive Lead Generation in a Digital-First World

Cracking the code of the ‘new normal’ has become a high stakes race that could define the future of an organization.
Marketing
Article

How to Improve Customer Experience with AI-Enabled Sentiment Analysis

AI-enabled sentiment analysis is a powerful means of bolstering our customer experience potential, but how do we action it?
Marketing
Article

Sustainable Marketing: Can we do better business …with the planet?

Sustainability sits at the forefront of most businesses’ strategic plans in 2022, but can the same be said for Marketing?
Marketing
Article

Chasing The Amazon Dream

How can you create extraordinary experiences for your customers like Amazon?

Related events

Marketing
Roundtable - America

Sustainability Marketing: Are You Ready?

Marketing
Roundtable - America

Sustainability Marketing: Are You Ready?

Marketing
Roundtable - America

Sustainability Marketing: Are You Ready?

Marketing
Roundtable - America

Generate Pipeline Across Your Demand Generation Strategy

Marketing
Roundtable - America

Shaping Engagement in Life Sciences: Personalization and a Progressive Experience with HCPs and Patients

Marketing
Roundtable - America

Digital first marketing in a data-driven world

Marketing
Roundtable - America

How to Break Through Personlization Roadblocks

Marketing
Summit - America

CMO Digital Summit:Distruptive marketing for a disrupted era

Marketing
Summit - Europe

CMO Digital Summit:Distruptive marketing for a disrupted era