A few days ago, I had what could only be described as a supernatural experience.

It just so happens I was in the market for a new lamp, and was perusing a major retailer’s online website. I checked a few options, and although one arc lamp in particular caught my eye, I wasn’t ready to make a purchase. I closed my browser.

Days later, I “mysteriously” received an email from that same retailer. Turns out, select lamps are on sale. And that arc lamp I had my eye on — “coincidentally” the feature image in the email — was now 20% off. Even crazier: The email arrived on a Saturday, which is the day I usually open promotional emails to look for deals (and most likely to purchase).

This random series of connections seemed all too convenient — the right product, the right email address, at the right time. Was it a sign from the universe that I should buy that lamp? Was I the target of a clairvoyant marketing team?

Or: Was I on the receiving end of a truly personalized experience, based on quality data?

The (Not So) Secret Ingredient of True, 1:1 Personalization

Nearly every retail or e-commerce brand is currently using some form of personalization in their marketing, or has experimented with it in the past.

As a practice, personalization is ubiquitous. But the degree of personalization offered differs from brand to brand, and not all organizations stick with it. In fact, Gartner predicts that, by 2025, 80% or marketers will have abandoned their personalization efforts.

Why? Because many marketers struggle to see a return on their investment with personalization, and this lack of ROI is often due to these primary factors: reporting and data.

Only with rich, quality data, can your brand deliver true, 1:1 personalized experiences that are meaningful to customers. These experiences create the kind of lasting relationships that lead to more revenue, and ultimately, greater ROI. If your data is weak (or inaccurate), your attempts at personalization will seem like hit-or-miss, opportunistic marketing execution.

So how do you acquire better data?

There are 4 PILLARS required to build true, 1:1 personalization into your marketing efforts. Do you know them all?

The 3 Rules

To get the kind of customer data that leads to better personalized customer experiences, and thus, increased revenue and retention for your brand, the best (and most obvious) source is the customer themselves.

But because of privacy concerns, or a general distrust of brands, not every customer feels comfortable sharing their personal info outright with a company. In order for a customer to be willing to divulge their details to your brand, there are three rules you must follow.

#1. Give Value in Exchange for Data

If you offer a customer something valuable in exchange for their information, their willingness to share increases drastically.

Value can come in many forms. Discounts, rewards, special offers, exclusive access, or tidbits of information (i.e., “sign up for the latest updates…”) are just a few examples. Whether these incentives are enough to motivate a customer to share information depends partially on the customer.

It also depends on the type of data you are asking for. According to eMarketer, even a 10% discount was enough for 7 out of 10 internet users to agree that, if Amazon offered them a discount, they would share their buying habits from a competitor such as Target.


If you expect customers to share with you the kind of data required for delivering true 1:1 personalization, be prepared to make an exchange. Frame your request for data in a way so that it’s clear to the customer what the immediate benefit for them will be.

#2. Be Clear in Your Intentions

Honesty is the best policy. That’s not just a cliché proverb — it’s practical advice, especially for marketers.

In today’s world, consumers are savvy and well-informed. Any approach not rooted in transparency and truthfulness is short-sighted, at best. If you’re looking to build lasting relationships with customers to create long-term (and higher-spending) brand advocates, start with honesty.

This is most important when it comes to data collection. A survey on eMarketer found that online shoppers are most comfortable sharing personal information when brands “are clear about what they will do with that information.”


This doesn’t mean showing the customers how the sausage is made — no need to give them the granular technical details about how the data is woven into your marketing efforts or the tools involved.

Rather, explain how the information is used to deliver more relevant product recommendations, or personalized online (or in-store) experiences. Give assurances that data is secured and protected, and not shared with third parties. And of course, always offer an opt-out option.

#3 Put Customer Data to Good Use

What’s the quickest way to make a customer regret sharing their information? Bombard them with excessive, irrelevant marketing content.

If a customer has been kind enough (and trusting enough) to offer you their personal information, it’s not a green light to go hog-wild. Customer data is the high-yielding fuel that powers nearly all marketing initiatives, so once you have it, it may be tempting to execute every marketing use case your customer engagement platform will allow.

But don’t forget Rule #2: If you’ve promised customers you’ll deliver them relevant and personalized communications, you must make good on that promise. Stick to a quality-over-quantity approach.

With better customer data, you can send your customer less content overall, because the messages you do send will be more tailored to his or her personal preferences and shopping history. This means they won’t have to see as many emails, or spend as much time aimlessly browsing your website, to discover and purchase the kind of products desired.

If you’re not leading with personalization in your digital marketing efforts, your won’t be able to drive business results for your brand.

Final Thoughts

Remember that “supernatural” shopping experience I described earlier? I have to confess: It wasn’t supernatural. It was the result of hyper-personalized marketing, based on data that I willingly shared with the retailer.

The brand used my personal data to deliver a 1:1 customer experience that was unique to me, and as result, I made a purchase. I gave them this data, because they offered me fair value for it, they were clear in how they intended to use it, and they put it to good use in the form of a meaningful, relevant experience.

Getting great data from customers and using it responsibly is a vital piece of the personalization puzzle. So vital, in fact, we regard it as one of the 4 Pillars of Personalization.

Keep in mind, there are additional strategies for getting great data (such as a loyalty program) and innovative approaches to better manage, organize, and potentiate it (such as having your data fully integrated into a single CDP inside your customer engagement platform). But if you follow the three rules for getting great data from customers, you’ll be able to deliver the true 1:1 personalized experiences your customers deserve.

Handpicked Related Content: