OK, everyone! Are you a marketer? If not, please get up from your desk, stretch your legs, get a cup of coffee.

Still with me? Well, now that it’s just us marketers in the room, come closer. Shh— I want to talk about a dirty secret I bet a lot of us share.

We’ve heard a lot about the ubiquity of data and the power of personalization in marketing. We’ve admired (and maybe envied) some successful retailers or other businesses who’ve pioneered data-driven marketing and commerce. And, we all know we shouldn’t batch-and-blast our customers with unwanted email or shotgun marketing messages—but, gosh, it’s so easy.

On the other hand, cultivating a personalized relationship with a customer and giving them a reason to come back to you isn’t easy. It takes time, and it takes a willingness to pay attention to your customer as an individual. It sounds a lot like running an old-fashioned corner store, doesn’t it? Well, it kind of is. But in the online world, it also takes investment in the right sort of technology to be able to do it on a large scale.

So, when we’re talking e-commerce, how do you move your marketing from batch-and-blast to individualization? SparkPost recently hosted a webinar about “Personalization 2.0” with Forrester Research’s Brendan Witcher and our own Jose Santa Ana. In the webinar, these experts shared their vision for Personalization 2.0: seamless customer engagement across an entire ecosystem of touch points.

I learned a lot listening to the webinar, but here are three particular take-aways I wanted to share about Personalization 2.0:

1. Consumers pay more for a brand that treats them as individuals.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of consumers will pay more and recommend a brand that provides a more personalized experience. That sounds like a really big number, but think back to the last brand that sent you relevant, wanted content. Chances are you’re still buying from them, right?

2. It’s all about the data.

Individualizing customer experiences is impossible without the right customer data. Investing in technologies that provide real-time access to customer data is a must to achieve Personalization 2.0. But it’s not all about spending money on the latest-and-greatest. This change is as much a mindset as it is a technology hurdle. It means designing your digital touch points right from the start with the idea of using and collecting data so as to create a more complete view of your customer.

3. Don’t boil the ocean!

But, remember, Personalization 2.0 is an end goal and a journey. It takes work—you should continually work towards it, but you’ll need to start small and build up. A good starting point is to invest in one mature, data-rich channel (hint hint: email!) and then continually integrate other channels to eventually grow into individualization.

Creating content and experiences that your customers find relevant isn’t easy. It takes a commitment to investing time and money into building out technology and processes to create a richer view of your customer—but it’s really worth it. It’s simple: when brands treat customers like royalty, customers reward brands with loyalty.

What’s been your experience with Personalization 2.0? I’d love to hear from you.

Bonus: Upcoming Webinar

And, by the way, I’d like to invite you to an upcoming webinar. Join us on January 26 for a lightning round of 2016 predictions as 10 (count ’em, 10!) email experts go head to head. It’s going to be a great chance to capitalize on what’s coming in our industry—and maybe to have a little fun, too. Register today!

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