Do you ever feel like Netflix just knows you? Like the countdown clock for season two of “Stranger Things” was designed for your own personal binge-watching habits? Or that the Top Picks section of your account is a virtual agenda for your ideal lazy weekend?
The level of personalization a company like Netflix can achieve is designed to elicit that kind of feeling. In 2014 alone, Netflix offered up nearly 77,000 micro-genres of movies and TV shows.
With that level of segmentation as the bar for every other business, what can smaller companies do to feed their prospects’ and customers’ expectations for ultra-personalized service?
Try these three things:
Deliver one-to-one experiences that aren’t robotic.
Netflix can you help you tick off the seconds until your favorite show drops because it has data scientists, big data pipelines and the best possible marketing stack. Maybe you don’t. But that doesn’t mean you get a pass on personalization. Your customers expect it, and a third of consumers want even more personalization than they’re getting today.
Turn what might feel like a disadvantage into a bonus, by creating more human experiences. Start by sharing more about the people who run your business and why you want to serve customers.
Your blog posts, company videos, email newsletters and other outreach can help you create empathy if you use these vehicles to authentically share information – and stories, even if those stories reveal the messy side of running a company, balancing family and work, or learning hard business lessons.
Embrace handcrafted messages.
In a landscape where “artisanal” has come to mean “superior,” there’s no reason why hand-crafted marketing should not also be celebrated.
Consider the evolution of the coffee business for context.
Your great-grandparents might have been excited when Folgers hit the shelves, because they no longer had to grind their coffee beans at home. A couple of generations later, Starbucks created a huge following for its customizable coffee offerings. And today, Stumptown delivers the ultimate personalized, caffeine experience, from telling you which farmer grew the beans brewed for your morning cup, to having the barista greet you by name.
Be a barista of marketing messages with some easy “hand-crafting.” For example, make a personalized video for new customers with a tool like Bonjoro. It’s not as scalable as those mega-containers of Folgers on grocery store shelves across America, but for every customer you’re able to reach with this kind of message, you’re far more likely to forge a relationship that yields repeat business and word-of-mouth benefits.
Update templated messages daily.
When you can’t make the message hand-crafted, you can still make it customized and, often, ultra-personalized. Here’s a quick, easy example: If your customer relationship management (CRM) solution shows a new customer was invited by an existing one, edit the welcome message. “Hello! I see [NAME] invited you. We’re glad you’re here,” has a whole different feel from, “Thanks for signing up! How did you learn about us?”
When you have to lean more on automated segmentation, adjust your templates daily to add commentary about something happening at your business or in your life. That mention of the foster dog you got over the weekend, for example, could spur a customer to write back to you, opening the door for more authentic, one-to-one interactions.
Ultra-personalization isn’t easy, but you don’t have to be a mega-company to do it. Make your efforts convenient, customized and human, and you’ll reap the benefits of stronger personal connections with your customers.
About the author: Nathan Kontny is the CEO of Highrise, a simple CRM that helps users track leads and manage follow-ups on the go. He has been a software engineer and designer for 15 years, beginning his entrepreneurial career with two Y Combinator–backed start-ups: Inkling in 2005 and Draft in 2011. Get to know Kontny by following him Medium, Twitter, or YouTube.