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Personalisation on a Budget

Hubspot wrote a blog last year that highlighted just how important personalisation was and how customers expect a level of personalisation in marketing. But if you’re a small business and you don’t have the resources to gain insight and data on your prospects, how are you supposed to manage this? Here is the secret to personalisation on a budget.

The Hubspot blog shared some big facts about personalisation, such as:

· 99% of marketers say personalisation helps advance customer relationships

· 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences

· 78% of marketers say email is the most personalised channel

· 92% of marketers say customers and prospects expect a personalised experience

This is all really positive. But the blog then goes on the state that:

· 34% of marketers struggle with poor data quality

· 78% of brands say they struggle with "data debt" or not having enough quick data about their customers to not launch relevant personalisation tactics

No doubt the ‘brands’ that were featured in the surveys cited were bigger companies with sizeable marketing budgets. So if they’re struggling, how are SMEs meant to deal with this? If customers react much better to personalisation, but it’s very difficult to achieve this, what do you do?

How to be personal

Before anything else, let’s break down what we mean by personalisation. In the most basic of forms, it means addressing emails to a named person. Or you can even do Variable Data Print which is where you print hard copy mailers with personalised names on each one. But personalisation runs much deeper than that.

If you received an email or mailer that had your name on it, but everything else seemed irrelevant, you probably wouldn’t react that well to it. However, if you had an email and mailer that wasn’t addressed personally to you but was packed full of information that you cared about, words that resonated with you and topics that excited you, you’d definitely take note and read on. You probably wouldn’t even notice that it wasn’t addressed personally to you, because in every other way it was of interest.

In my first ever marketing job, my manager was explaining this to me. I was known as the karaoke queen in the office (I love to sing), and he asked me if ten mailers came through the post and one of them mentioned karaoke, would I drop the rest to look at it? Would it actively grab my attention? Of course! (It still would).

Personalisation isn’t about knowing the names of people. It’s about knowing people personally. How can you find the equivalent of my love of karaoke in your customers?


In the marketing world, we call getting to know customers ‘profiling’. Some people talk about the ‘ideal customer’, but for anyone who’s read my blog from 2020, you’ll know I don’t believe in that. To have an ideal customer suggests that there is one perfect type of customer for your business. Unless you’re incredibly niche, that’s unlikely to be the case. So instead, know your varying customer types and then group them together.

This is where thinking small can transform a small business. Rather than thinking “there are all these companies out there that fit the profile, how do I reach them?”, instead look at your prospects and decide how you can group them into very small subsets. And I mean small. Like five to ten people in each subset. What you want to do is put people or businesses together that have something in common. The smaller the group, the easier it is to do research on them.

Then set about getting to know them. It doesn’t have to be stalking, but a few basic online searches can normally give you a good level on information about people or businesses.

Once you feel you know these people/businesses, start to put together a mini marketing plan of attack. Perhaps decide to send them three emails that all mention something very specific that you know will resonate with them. After that, follow up with a phone call, connect with them on LinkedIn and start to form that relationship.

You might be saying that ten isn’t very many people. But if five of them converted into sales, would that be good? How many sales do you need in a year to be successful?

If you need 50, then you need to repeat this process five or ten times. The chances are that the conversion rate will be higher, as you’ve done your research. You’re targeting people that you know will gain value from what you offer and you’ve marketed to them in a way that has deliberately been designed to grab their attention. Then you just need to keep plugging away.

Whenever I’ve done this sort of focused activity, the results have always been positive. You can’t rush through the research phase, and you must make sure the content of your marketing is spot on. But smaller numbers of people are far easier to manage, and that’s what makes it powerful.

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