How to Offer Personalization Like Netflix

Brad Bishop
March 28, 2022
5 min read

Have you been to Netflix lately? Or Spotify? How about Amazon? Whether you noticed it or not, what you received from those brands was a customized experience.

  • Netflix provides show and movie recommendations based on what you’ve recently watched.
  • Spotify asks what types of music you like and then gives you suggested songs, playlists, and stations based on your selections.
  • Amazon shows you products based on your recent searches or purchases.

These brands know a lot about you based on your behavior and can offer an experience that’s tailored specifically to you. And your brand should be doing the same thing for your clients.

According to an article from McKinsey & Company (click here for the full piece): Thanks to online pioneers, such as Amazon, customers have grown to expect and desire personalized experiences: a survey of 1,000 US adults by Epsilon and GBH Insights found that the vast majority of respondents (80 percent) want personalization from retailers. Personalization can even be called a “hygiene factor”: customers take it for granted, but if a retailer gets it wrong, customers may depart for a competitor.

Essentially, we (as consumers) have been indoctrinated into this personalized experience and now we kind of expect it. And while it’s not something people necessarily expect from small brands, it’s a breath of fresh air when we find small (ie, not Netflix) brands that offer it. So, what’s my advice?

Do What You Can To Offer a Personalized Experience

When it comes to course creators, small Shopify retailers, or subscription services - personalization may not be easy. And it’s not always possible. But you should turn over every stone to find that opportunity. Let me give you two examples of brands that are either doing it or building it...

Example #1 (Doing It)

Mommy Labor Nurse is an incredibly successful brand that helps pregnant women navigate pregnancy and labor through their digital courses. While they do a lot of things really well, one thing that stands out is their customized email sequence. Take a look below at how it works.

It’s roughly a 40-week email series and your due date determines where you start in the sequence. It’s brilliant! For pregnant Moms, this is great because the information is timed to your pregnancy, relevant to what you're experiencing, and highly tailored to YOU. This sequence has served MLN well and has helped drive thousands of dollars in sales. That’s the benefit of customization: loyal readers leads to revenue.

Example #2 (Building It)

We’re currently working with a client in the healthcare space who serves a wide audience. As we brainstormed the idea of a personalized experience, we determined that she gets people from all walks of healthcare. There are people looking for information about diabetes, heart problems, cancer, brain injuries, and more. With that knowledge, we decided to create various experiences tailored to the diagnosis. Similar to MLN where you select your due date on a form, we’re going to have people select their diagnosis. Once that’s determined, they’ll receive a customized email sequence that’s specific to the diagnosis. So how do you do it? Well...

1. Start With Your Audience

As you ponder the idea of a tailored sequence, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there a progression my audience goes through (ie, Mommy Labor Nurse walking moms through a 40-week pregnancy)?
  • What are the different audience segments I serve (ie, Client #2 example)
  • What are the different channels my audience is interested in (perhaps you’re a marketing agency and your clients are interested in things like website design, email campaigns, and messaging)?

This is where data comes into play. You need to have a multidimensional understanding of your customer in order to deliver personalization. You need to understand their problem and how it manifests itself (for example, is it a progression or a consistent problem?)

You also need to know the basics about your audience:

What are the demographics?

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Profession

What are the psychographics?

  • What do they want?
  • What do they need?
  • What are they seeking?
  • How do they feel?
  • What does success look like to them?

With that kind of information at your fingertips, you can then determine if personalization is an option and how it can be built. One thing you might be asking is where do you get that kind of data. For demographics, I rely on platforms like Google Analytics and social media analytics. Psychographics require you to get personal with your audience through conversations, polling, surveys, focus groups, and general research.

2. Determine the Details

Once you know your audience and what they need and/or want, you can go about making some crucial decisions:

  • Which downloadable resource would serve them best
  • How to segment the audience (where true personalization occurs)
  • The cadence Is this a one-time deliverable? 5-email sequence? 40-weeks like MLN?
  • How to avoid miscommunication across multiple audiences. When you have multiple audiences with varying needs, it can be easy to send conflicting messages, so everything has to be carefully mapped out in your email platform. (For example, MLN has to be careful not to mis-tag someone in their platform so that a 36-week pregnant mom doesn’t receive the email reserved for a mom at 10 weeks)

This step requires significant work in terms of strategy. If you have a few ideas for the downloadable resource but can’t decide which one is best - poll your audience. Literally get on Instagram or whatever platform and ask which idea is best. Let them tell you what they want. Once the downloadable is determined, you can go about mapping out the segmentation and cadence of the experience. For example, should everyone receive the same welcome email, and then the 2nd email is where they receive customized info? Does the sales pitch begin in email 3 or 5?

3. Do the Work

Based on the length of your downloadable deliverable and email sequence, this step could be quick and easy or fairly lengthy. For MLN, they had to write and design a 40-email sequence. For you, it may just be 5 emails. Either way, this step is where you take everything you know about the audience demographics and psychographics and create the actual deliverables. What you have to keep in mind as you write these is that people are expecting something highly personalized, so you can’t make these generic emails. It often helps if you have a boat-load of other content (blogs, videos, resources, etc) to share in the emails. For example, client #2 mentioned above is doing a diagnosis-specific campaign. Fortunately, she has years of blogs and podcast episodes to reference. So, in one of her emails, she might be like, “If you need more help with diabetes, here’s a link to my podcast, and here’s a blog I wrote.” The more content you have, the more personalized you can make it. If you do decide to write your own stuff, I highly recommend having an outsider take a peek. Often times, as entrepreneurs, we’re super close to the business and it’s hard to think objectively.

4. Distribution

Now that the actual pieces are done, you can set up your email platform accordingly to make sure all of the triggers are in place. Once it’s set up and tests are run to make sure the correct people are receiving the correct emails, you’ll want to create social media assets to draw attention to your campaign.

5. Conclusion

Like I said before, the bigger brands are creating hubs of personalization, and the more they offer those types of experiences, the more customers begin to expect it. More than likely, your competitors aren’t doing it yet, so you 100% should. In an age where competition is fierce, you’ll never lose if you’re serving your customers well!

Brad Bishop
VP of Strategy

You might also like...

No posts published yet.