One-to-one marketing: what it is and how to apply it digitally

Marketing is a constantly evolving field. This is a fact. One always has to keep up to date and understand what the latest developments are. One of these is one-to-one marketing. It is definitely one of the latest trends in this sector. We are talking about marketing that is completely different from the classic marketing we are all used to. It is, in fact, personalized marketing.

Personalized marketing refers to a type of marketing in which ads and campaigns are customized and different for each user. They are tailor-made for a specific user and designed according to that user’s personal interests. But that’s not all: demographic data, education, and work are all information that can be used to create more effective campaigns and increase conversions.

Spam e-mails, pop-ups, and blanket phone calls are something we have all experienced and are part of outdated marketing, marketing that can no longer be used. Realizing that you have to put the user at the center can make all the difference.

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What is one-to-one marketing?

Let’s start with an example: We walk into our usual café, perhaps the one we go to every morning before going to work or the one we go to every Sunday with our family. The bartender recognizes us, greets us, and says: “Shall we make our usual? Cappuccino with cocoa and cream brioche?”

Here, this is a simple example of one-to-one marketing.

The bartender knows us, he knows what our habits are and what we like to eat, and he proposes it directly to us.

One-to-one marketing (sometimes simply called 1:1 marketing) is a strategy based on knowledge of the individual choices made by a customer. The customer is placed at the center of the strategy, and it is on the basis of his characteristics that campaigns and advertisements are studied and designed. The keywords then become user and customization.

The era of one-way marketing is now over. Advertising repeated in the same way for everyone no longer makes sense. The world is changing, and consequently, so must marketing. We have always been used to a type of advertising that dates back to the early 1920s. A time when the very first advertising messages began to be broadcast. First through radio and later through television and the first channels.

A single advertisement with a single message aimed at everyone indiscriminately. This is how advertising campaigns used to be, and still are, structured. In fact, despite the fact that investments in the digital world are increasing every year, companies show that they do not want to change the way they do things.

Let us take pop-ups as an example. These are small windows that open on the screen while we visit a web page. We have all seen them, even very often. They interrupt the reading of an article or the viewing of a product on e-commerce, sometimes becoming truly unbearable.

Studies by Kantar, the world’s leading data analysis company, have shown that more and more people are installing blockers, i.e., programs that block pop-ups, on their browsers. The study speaks clearly: users hate them, but despite this, companies continue to offer them. This means disrespecting customers who will lose trust in the company over time.

one to one marketing scheme

Fortunately, however, things are changing. Many companies today are converting to one-to-one marketing. They have realized how important the customer is by putting him at the center of the entire sales strategy.

In this way, the customer does not feel persecuted but respected. The company, thanks to one-to-one marketing, delivers its message at the right time, in the right place, to the right person. So the customer will receive a message on his or her preferred channel to meet a specific need.

Of course, to do this, you have to know your customers. It is, therefore, essential to understand the consumer as well as possible and to collect a considerable amount of data.

If many years ago, when the first advertisements were broadcast on the radio, it was really difficult to collect data on many people, this is no longer the case.

There are many tools and instruments that allow you to segment, classify and collect data on your consumers. One can do A/B tests on one’s campaigns, get immediate insights into online advertisements, and have customized reports of one’s results.

Companies have no more excuses! One-to-one marketing is the future.

The types of one-to-one marketing

Now that we have seen in a little more detail what one-to-one marketing is let us try to understand how it can manifest itself. There are two basic types of one-to-one marketing.

Marketing one-to-one: personalization

In this case, the company acquires the user’s characteristics and preferences based on, for example, previous purchases. Once the user’s profile has been created, the user will be offered suitable articles, creating a 1:1 marketing plan.

A classic example of this particular type is Amazon. Amazon is known for its most successful one-to-one marketing strategy. The site simply proposes items based on past interests (site searches or purchases).

Netflix also uses this strategy by remembering the films, TV series, and searches made by the user in order to be able to propose films suitable for him.

Marketing one-to-one: customization

Unlike the first strategy, the company does not acquire user preferences based on past purchases. But it is directly the user who provides the company with his preferences and tastes.

1 to 1 marketing customization

An example of this particular strategy is computer salesmen, who offer customers the possibility of personalizing their purchase.

It starts with a basic model to which a whole series of modifications can be applied: different storage memory, pre-installed software, additional features, customized colors, and much more. All this is according to the personal taste of each user.

Another example is news sites that allow their users to choose which news to display (politics, economics, news, and more). This creates a page directly on the site that is completely customized and created ad hoc for each user.

This strategy can also be used offline. Think, for example, of yogurt shops that make many flavors and toppings available to their customers so that they can create their own personalized yogurt. In this case, it is not the company that stores the user’s preferences, but the user simply indicates them.

Digital professionals in 1:1 marketing

Now let us analyze which professionals come into play during the creation and maintenance of a one-to-one marketing plan:

  • CRO Specialist: optimizing conversions is certainly one of the most important aspects of a digital marketing strategy. A good CRO Specialist will be able to adapt the strategy so that it can also be used in one-to-one marketing.
  • Market Research Analyst: these professionals are in charge of market research, analyzing and reporting data from consumers approaching the company. To be able to create a good one-to-one marketing strategy, data collection and analysis are crucial. Therefore, Market Research Analysts become essential figures in this case for the success of the strategy.
  • Senior Manager: a good Senior Manager must specialize in one-to-one marketing and in creating an appropriate strategy. This is a crucial role, as he/she has to decide which strategy to use. He/she must therefore have experience in one-to-one marketing and come up with innovative and good ideas.

How to Apply One-to-One Marketing Digitally

There are many elements to be taken into account when deciding to start a one-to-one digital campaign.

In general, here are the four basic steps:

1) Identifying potential customers and users: creating a database with all the information about our customers is a good starting point. What do we know about him? What are his preferences? Where does he live? How old is he? The more information, the better. Of course, this database must be continuously updated with any information that might be acquired over time. For example, if our customer bought a printer, he might need cartridges. So it is important to keep information on past purchases.

2) Interact with customers: asking for feedback is one of the simplest and most useful things you can do. This way, you can get more information that could be useful in understanding their needs and problems.

3) Differentiate customers: now that you have acquired a certain amount of information about your customers, you need to divide and organize them into groups. Of course, a customer can be placed in more than one group. If you think a group is more likely to buy product X than product Y, develop an email marketing strategy, for example, that encourages your customers to buy that particular product.

4) Customize: creating customized articles for each individual user can make all the difference in the market. Many companies focus on this aspect to increase their earnings. Create a shopping experience that the user will find hard to forget.

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The advantages of 1:1 marketing

If applied with the right criteria, one-to-one marketing can bring the company many advantages. The main benefit remains loyalty. Increasing user gratification by presenting them with customized messages dedicated solely to them will increase their trust in the brand and their satisfaction.

Many studies show that this type of communication increases sales and customer loyalty. Let’s look at studies conducted by Accenture Interactive in 2018. In particular, the report called “Personalization Pulse Check”. More than 8,000 consumers from all over the world were interviewed.

1 to 1 marketing advantages

Let us look in detail at the results of these studies:

  •   A large number of consumers, about 91%, indicated that they prefer to buy from sites that provide customized offers and relevant suggestions.
  •   80% say they only buy from sites that personalize their sales experience.
  •   90% of consumers say they are willing to provide their preferences and behavioral data in exchange for a better shopping experience.
  •   81% of the US companies surveyed say that personalizing the sales experience works and increases sales.
  • Using a one-to-one marketing strategy can increase user spending by 500%.

Besides increasing sales, a good one-to-one marketing project can also bring benefits in other areas:

  • Pay per Click: segmenting your audience and studying keywords can help you understand consumer intentions and thus improve this metric. Create differentiated ad campaigns to make ads more relevant to the user. Real-time events are also important and can give you the opportunity to further customize campaigns.
  • Retargeting: searching for people who have bounced back to the site without buying.
  • Social Media: this is certainly one of the easiest ways to segment one’s audience and achieve better results. Social provides a whole range of metrics through which you can segment your audience.
  • Website: creating customized pages when the user logs in to the site will improve the user experience, which will then convert more.
  • E-mails: segment the e-mail database by creating customized e-mails for your users.

All these areas will improve their results if they are underpinned by a strategy based on one-to-one marketing.

The limits of traditional one-to-one marketing

As you can well see, one-to-one marketing, if done correctly, has a lot of advantages and positive effects. Nevertheless, this type of strategy has some major problems:

  • Being able to create a message that fits 100% of our customers’ needs is not so straightforward. On a theoretical level, it may seem simple, but it is not. Creating such a message can be very complex if one does not have the appropriate skills or experience.
  • Creating a segmented database can be complex. As we have seen, creating a database containing all the information we can obtain from our customers is essential. But sometimes it is not so easy to find the information.
  • High costs. Very often, this kind of strategy requires high costs. Especially in the beginning, not every company can afford such costs. In addition, professionals are required, which, of course, further increases the budget. This limitation, however, is drastically reduced if we talk about the digital world. In fact, if applying a one-to-one marketing plan can be very expensive offline, this cannot be said for the online world, where costs are much lower.
  • This type of strategy takes a long time. In order to start seeing results, some time must pass. The identification of the strategy, and the collection of data, are all steps that take many weeks or even months. If the company has little time to implement its strategy, perhaps it should do without one-to-one marketing.

Of course, each company has to weigh up the pros and cons of this strategy and see if, in its reality, one-to-one marketing can be a winning move to increase conversions.

1:1 marketing examples

Now you know everything you need to know about one-to-one marketing. I want to give you some examples from which to create your own strategy.

Google: Google often sends personalized emails to its users. One example is the emails summarising the movements made by users in the last month or year. In these emails, Google indicates how many kilometers were traveled by the user, which places were visited, whether local or city, which new countries were visited and much more. Thanks to the location information, which the user shares with the search engine, Google is able to send personalized and very detailed emails to each person.

Spotify: based on the music genre and the songs that people typically listen to, Spotify generates personalized playlists for each user. If you use this application, you will certainly have seen the Discover playlist. This is a real collection of songs suggested directly by the application that the user might like based on their past listening. Then Spotify collects and stores all the searches and listens in order to generate this fully customized playlist.

Coca-Cola: one-to-one marketing is, of course, not only about the digital world. You surely remember the Coca-Cola bottles sold a few years ago. They had the particularity of bearing people’s names on the label. Again, these are personalized marketing campaigns.

Grammarly: this is a browser extension that corrects the words you type and checks the text grammatically. This application sends the user an e-mail every month summarising the new words learned, the improvements made, and the grammatical accuracy.

Kroger: is a British food chain. These shops have devised a simple but very effective way of acquiring user data. It is a club card called “Shopper’s Card”. It is not a simple card that allows you to collect points. Every time a customer uses it, the market stores their purchases. In this way, personalized emails are created in which customers are offered coupons and discounts on the items they buy most often.

These are just a few examples, but there are many more. As I said, more and more companies are expanding their one-to-one marketing strategy. Admittedly, it is gratifying to receive completely personalized messages. In the future, more and more companies will realize the importance of this methodology.

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Now you understand the importance of one-to-one marketing within a strategy. Many companies have turned to this strategy, significantly increasing their conversions. But not only that! Customer satisfaction has also improved, as has their trust in the company.

If you would like some additional information or would like to learn something about the world of digital marketing, Digital Coach offers an online orientation talk completely free of charge.

Take advantage of this opportunity. Find out how you can implement an effective marketing strategy for your business and increase your earnings.


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