Posted July 3, 2012 8:30 am by with 0 comments

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This post comes from our Inbound Marketing Channel sponsor, HubSpot.

In marketing, we talk a lot about personalization. Get to know your leads, provide them with materials that will help solve their specific problems, always strive for relevance. Well, this all seems easier said than done. You have a whole list of prospects – are you really supposed to get to know each one of them before you send out an email? Well, not exactly. But there are some things you can do, even with a massive list, to make your marketing more personal.

In a recent Forbes article called The 7 Pillars of Connecting with Absolutely Anyone, Scott Dinsmore explains that “Personal relationships run the world,” and lists seven simple ways to build strong connections with others. Not surprisingly, there’s a great parallel between Dinsmore’s suggestions for making friends and the best techniques for personalizing your marketing. Let’s take a look at his list:

1. Be genuine. Your prospects are people too, and no one enjoys a cold, impersonal email and the obvious status of being one recipient on a list of thousands. A data analysis by HubSpot’s Dan Zarrella shows that email recipients are significantly more likely to read and click through on messages that include first name personalization. Choose your copy carefully so it doesn’t sound like it was written by an automated machine. Your recipients want to know that your email came from a real person, so don’t be afraid to facilitate that connection by including your name and maybe even your picture in the email. As long as you put some thought into your message and recognize that your recipients are real people too, you should have no trouble coming across as genuine.

2. Provide massive help. One of the best marketing strategies out there is simply finding ways to help your prospective customers. Presumably, you’re looking to sell them a product or a service that will in some way help them. But you’re not limited to signing them up as customers as the only way to help them, and in fact, you probably shouldn’t start there anyway. Engage with your social media followers; answer their questions on Facebook and LinkedIn. Send an email with a link to download a free ebook or register for a free webinar on a topic that you think would be educational for them. The more help and support you provide, the stronger your connections will be. Once you’ve established those, then you should start helping them by turning them into customers.

3. Pay ridiculous attention. According to an Econsultancy study, less than 1/3 of email marketing companies regularly test their email marketing campaigns. Why is this an issue? Well, you’d be surprised how much one seemingly tiny detail can change the way a person feels about a company. For instance, let’s say you get an email from XYZ Inc. that begins, “Hello [FIRSTNAME]!” instead of “Hello Mary!” What are the chances you’re actually going to read the rest of the email, even if it’s written nicely and might contain useful information? Unfortunately, pretty low. The majority of your email recipients are likely bothered by even a small and rather common mistake like that, because it makes the whole interaction seem impersonal. So pay close attention to detail when you’re personalizing, or your attempts may backfire.

4. Connect with people close to them. This is what network building is all about, isn’t it? Before you make a sales call, look up your prospective customer on LinkedIn and find out if you share any connections with them. Mentioning even a relatively distant mutual connection will instantly make your interaction feel more personal because you’re building relationships through other people, a natural human way to connect. It may also help you establish more credibility and trust.

5. Persistence wins most battles. The best, and smartest, way to be persistent in marketing is through lead nurturing. With nurturing campaigns, you group your leads based on the information you have about them – what pages of your site they’ve visited or what type of offers they’ve downloaded. Let’s say a bunch of your prospects converted to leads when they downloaded your ebook about Facebook marketing, so you sent them an email inviting them to sign up for your webinar about Twitter marketing, but you didn’t get such a great response rate. Does this mean they’re not interested in hearing from your company again? Not necessarily. Maybe they would prefer to focus on Facebook for now, or would rather learn about LinkedIn than Twitter. Maybe they prefer ebooks to webinars. The point is, try a few different approaches when you follow up with your leads, and make sure that your messages and offers are always as relevant to them as possible.

6. Make real friends. Alright, we all know the saying “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your business personal! Get to know your best customers. Engage with your Twitter followers. Post pictures of your smiling employees for your Facebook fans to see, and tell them you’re working hard for them. Have conversation. Respond to people when they reach out to you. Make them your friends, and before you know it, you might just have a lot more referrals and positive chatter about your company floating around.

7. Remain unforgettable. This is my favorite pillar. After all, what’s more personal than creating positive memories together? Help your customers in ways that will change their lives or their companies. Do something outrageously awesome that will make them laugh, help them learn, inspire them to do, be, or make something better. Be unique in the ways you reach out to them, interact with them. Make them remember what it is they love about your company, and why they want to do business with you. My guess is that the answer will be because you’ve built a connection with them. And because it isn’t just business, it’s personal.

So go ahead, start making your marketing friendlier. Connect with your prospects, help your leads solve their problems, make some friends. Your business results will be all the better for it, and you might even come out with a few #1 fans.

Photo credit: Ben124

The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Marketing Pilgrim.