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Marketers target a persona, which is a symbol of a type of person, not an actual person.
Persona personified: personalization involves a person
Customers are persons, not personas. As visitors reveal more about themselves, the experience can be personalized — adapted to the actual person.

Targeted marketing adapts a company’s messaging to what marketers believe to be the needs of what they imagine to be a group of customers. Typically, the marketing team identifies segments of the population that are important to the company, and sketches personas that represent each segment. Marketing then makes its best guess as to the messages (content, images, audio clips, video clips, celebrity endorsements) and delivery (banners on the web site, coupons on a phone, postcards in the mail, magazine and TV ads) that will be most effective.
Targeted marketing is not highly valued by customers. But it is very important to marketers who rely on it to promote brands, acquire new customers, and re-engage past customers.
Targeting and segmentation are designed and managed by the marketing department: a customer only controls whether to respond to the messaging. Customers have no direct input into the construction of the persona, or which persona they are matched with.
In summary, targeted marketing addresses groups of customers who are represented by a symbolic person. Personalized customer experience tailors interactions to suit a specific, real, 3-D human.
Targeted marketing and personalization are partners. Targeted marketing is used to attract customer attention, personalization is used to optimize the benefits of that attention.
For example, your favorite sports store might email you that the running shoes you recently bought are being discontinued, and this is your last chance to buy them—at a discount. Email marketing calls for your attention, and personalizing the message engages your interest.
When you know nothing about a specific customer, targeted marketing is the best option for improving the probability of delivering relevant content. Part of marketing’s responsibility is to gather data about the customer, which will improve the relevance of the next message or interaction. The more that is known about a specific customer, the more targeted the message can be. When you know enough, you can personalize the interaction, whether it is a targeted marketing transaction (“Please come see us! We have some of that stuff you like!”) or a customer-initiated action (gathering information, selecting, using, etc.). What needs to change in your marketing efforts in order to deliver and leverage personalization?

Published by Sue Aldrich

As a leading authority on worldwide customer requirements, practices, technologies, and governance for personalization, Sue researches the technologies and practices that help marketers get the most useful content in front of customers at the right moment: recommendations, search, discovery, targeted marketing, and web content management. Aldrich is an expert on optimizing the methods that help customers find what they need to make buying decisions and/or to solve problems. She helps clients develop personalization, marketing, discovery, and content management practices that will engage customers and improve results.

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