Julia Manoukian

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June 8, 2018

How to Personalize Sponsorships Without Irritating Your Customers

Julia Manoukian

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Personalized marketing is like the bowl of porridge in "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." It's not too hot, not too cold, but just right. It's tailor-made. It's the perfect temperature.

Research shows that 75 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a retailer that recognizes them by name and recommends products based on their previous purchases, according to one study. Moreover, 74 percent of consumers feel frustrated when they don't receive personalized content online.

Still, some sectors still struggle with personalization — they don't always provide consumers with customized marketing. Take the financial services industry, for example. Banks who deliver personalized communications improve the customer experience, but a lack of relevant data often prevents them from achieving this goal.

In an experiential context, marketers who don't have access to the right data also have problems when it comes to personalization. They are unable to deliver customized messages based on a consumer's behavior, interests and purchasing history. Other marketers take personalization too far. It seems like they have too much data and know too much about their customers. This irritates consumers.

So how do you strike the right balance? And how can you use personalization to optimize your experiential campaigns?

How to Personalize Sponsorships Properly

Personalization is all about targeting individual customers without freaking them out. Consumers are already wary of sharing their personal data with companies. Research shows that only four in 10 consumers are comfortable receiving personalized text message offers from retailers. Even fewer customers are happy to share personal information when making a purchase.

If you're planning a sponsorship event, you need to find a happy medium where you target customers with relevant content without overdoing it.

"If you suddenly begin asking customers for data, they might become wary and even take their business to other companies that seem less intrusive," says insideBIGDATA. "The amount of willingness shown could be largely generation-dependent. A survey conducted by Aimia found that 51 percent of 18-34 year-olds in the United States were okay with sharing their mobile phone numbers, but that was true for only 30 percent of baby boomers."

Come up with a proper data collection plan for your sponsorships. Target consumers based on their passion for a particular hobby or good cause — sports, the arts, food, etc. — or their location, but don't focus too much on their spending habits or purchasing behavior, unless you have the data or established consumer rapport to back it up.

Get customer profiling right and you could generate new leads and move prospective customers through your marketing funnel. Get it wrong, though, and you could jeopardize sales.

"Of course, one needs to be careful about it," says Giles Morgan, global head of sponsorship and events at HSBC. "To some consumers, customer profiling can become almost too sinister. And therefore I think sponsors need to be careful about overselling themselves. I don’t think you should use personalization solely as a sales tactic because you can risk alienation or irritation from the customer."

When Do Marketers Take Personalization Too Far?

Overly intrusive campaigns are a turn-off for consumers. As a result, customers lose their trust in a brand and take their business elsewhere. They might think twice about sharing data with you in the future.

Research shows that 51 percent of consumers will take action when personalization goes too far. Twenty-one percent of them will tell their friends about an invasive company, while 20 percent will stop using that brand altogether.

Recently, Brandwatch featured five examples of "creepy marketing," including location-tracking apps and digital billboards that display ads based on what customers are wearing as they walk down the street. "It turns out we’re not all big fans of our preferences being made public," they say.

Focus on Direct Conversations Instead

Unlike other types of digital marketing, sponsorship events let you talk to prospects face-to-face. You can have direct conversations about their interests and hobbies and communicate with them on a much deeper level. If you're hosting a car sponsorship, you can engage with consumers about their favorite vehicles, for example. This is a great way to gain insights about your customer base, and you can use this information to frame your future marketing campaigns and sell your products and services.

"Clearly, if one has a passion for a particular platform within the dramas or arts, the ability to speak to the customer directly about that passion is incredibly important," says Giles Morgan.

Don't know what to talk about at sponsorship events? The latest software will provide you with insights about prospects and steer your conversations. Customers will feel more at ease talking to a real person and are more likely to make a purchase. Ninety-eight percent of people feel more inclined to buy a product after attending an activation.

As a marketer, you need to find the sweet spot between not enough data and too much data. Research shows that customers want personalized content but, at the same time, don't want brands to infringe on their privacy. Try not to oversell yourself, either. Customers don't like it, and they could quickly lose interest in your sponsorship campaign.

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