“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service sells itself.” — Peter Drucker

With that quote, management consulting legend Peter Drucker lays out the reason why marketers should engage in one-to-one marketing.

If you are trying to close a big account that will have a high LTV, it pays to understand the customer really, really well. Then you can take a highly personalized, ‘one-to-one’ approach to when marketing to them.

For example, when the folks at design firm Intridea wanted to get the attention of the creative ad agency Ogilvy, they took a bold, one-to-one marketing approach. In order to make a creative agency take notice, they knew that had to get creative themselves.

So, they decided to get personal. We’re talking “take out a personalized billboard directly outside the windows of the people you want to notice you” level of personal.

The billboard that Intridea launched to win over Ogilvy

This flashy move paid off. Intridea got a meeting with Ogilvy and got tons of good publicity for their effort.

The Intridea billboard is a great example of one-to-one marketing. They literally had one target prospect in mind, they leveraged what they understood about the customer in order to craft a compelling pitch, and they pulled out all the stops to get their attention.

The goal of one-to-one marketing for the modern organization is to bring that same level of intimacy into the digital world. In this article, we’ll show how you can incorporate one-to-one marketing principles into your digital strategy.

What is one-to-one marketing?

One-to-one marketing, also referred to as personalized marketing, is the process of using marketing to make a deep, personalized connection with a specific customer or set of customers. One-to-one marketing is achieved through personalized messaging across all ad channels that are targeted to a specific group of people at a specific point in time.

Effective one-to-one marketing takes into account the problems the customer has, the unique solutions you are offering, the psychology of the people you are trying to reach, the prospect’s position in the buying funnel, and more.

Developing a one-to-one marketing strategy

It’s probably easiest to think about one-to-one marketing in contrast to the more common form of “one-to-many” marketing. Think of a generic banner ad on the New York Times for an investment service. The goal with that approach is to appeal to millions of prospects. You create an offer that’s generic enough that anyone in your target customer base could be interested. That is a classic one-to-many approach.

One-to-one marketing aims to reduce wasteful ad spend by targeting not millions, but a select few of your ideal customers. It’s unlikely that any B2B SaaS company literally has one ideal customer that they are going to spend a ton of time and resources on — but they will certainly have a shortlist of dream customers they want to target. One-to-one marketing is all about maximizing the chances of getting engagement from that list.

How the traditional marketing funnel & a 1-1 marketing funnel differ

It’s important to note here, 1-1 marketing works best for B2B brands. That’s not to say that B2C brands can’t find value from these tactics, they’re just more designed for the longer buying cycles and larger account values that come with the B2C space.

There are a couple of key things you have to do in order to roll out an effective one-to-one marketing strategy. The first is to analyze as much customer data as possible. But you also have to use that data to personalize your marketing efforts.

Here are 3 things to keep in mind as you begin your one-to-one marketing approach.

1. Hone in on your ideal customer

To do one-to-one marketing well, you need to come up with a narrow list of your ideal customers. You probably have an intuitive idea of who they are, but it’s also helpful to create a data-driven system for building an ideal customer profile, or ICP.

Do this by looking at your CRM data and determining the properties of your highest revenue customers:

  • What sizes are the companies?
  • What tech do they use?
  • Where are they located?
  • Are they in a certain industry?
  • Do they have other common qualities?

Then use the common properties you discover to model what your ideal customer of the future can look like.

But also, remember the Ogilvy and Intridea example from the beginning of this post. With one-to-one marketing, it sometimes pays to think outside the box.

Here are some other ways you can learn about your target customers better so that you can understand them well enough to craft an irresistible campaign.

  • Follow them on social media — Note what your customers like and dislike, the tone they use, and who they respond to. Use what you learn in your ads and follow-up messaging.
  • Use their product — There is nothing like first-hand experience to build domain expertise. This is especially helpful when pursuing B2B SaaS companies. If you sign up for your target company’s service and actually know how their product works, it will be quite noticeable when you pitch them.
  • Read their blog — Most tech companies have a blog, and it will often contain a ton of good information on what is important to them as individual customers. Scour their posts for tidbits that you can use in a pitch. Plus, as an added bonus, citing a few blog posts will show the brand that you care more than the average salesperson. 

2. Get the most out of your data

A one-to-one marketing strategy is only going to be as good as the data powering it. Make sure you are using the best data analytics tools so that you can capture user activity both on and off your site and use it to power your one-to-one marketing campaign.

Products such as Mixpanel, Decibel Insight, and Adobe Analytics are invaluable for learning about your visitors. Tools like Clearbit and Datanyze can enrich your contact information with demographic, firmographic, and technographic details.

When you have full knowledge of details of who is coming to your site, whether they are a returning visitor or net-new prospect, and where they are in the purchasing funnel — you can begin to leverage that knowledge to develop targeted marketing campaigns.

One underrated way to take advantage of quality data is by creating accurate exclusion audiences. This means creating a list of people you don’t want to show your ads to, such as current customers, people in the midst of a free trial, or people who don’t fit your ICP.

That way, you avoid subjecting people to the all too familiar experience of being followed around the internet by an ad for a product they don’t want or need.

Good exclusion audiences ensure that you are not wasting your money serving content to people who have no interest in buying. It’s only possible to do that when you have good data.

3. Personalize your messaging

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — personalized marketing just plain works. Businesses that personalize their marketing efforts see a 19% increase in sales.

Good data and the right tools allow you to level up your personalization efforts, which is a huge part of what makes a 1 to 1 marketing campaign successful. The goal is to have every touchpoint feel like it was crafted just for your target prospect.

They’ll be scratching their heads and uttering, “Did they really just do all that for me?”

One great way to make a prospect feel at home is by matching their search intent to landing page copy. See how that looks in the below Freshsales example.

They know that a user came to their site after searching for “CRM software”.

So, they used that information to create a headline that is CRM-centric:

If you want to dynamically match landing page design to user behavior, check out Experiences.

Examples of one-to-one marketing done well

Now that we’ve covered the basics of 1-1 marketing, let’s cover some key examples of ho you can use this tactic on your website. Use these examples below to inspire your own one-to-one marketing campaigns.

Using chatbots for only your high-value prospects

The sales team only has limited bandwidth, and it would be a huge waste of time and money to have them live chat all day with low-quality leads. You want them to be fresh and ready to engage your ideal prospects.

You can help that vision become a reality by using Experiences to dynamically load a “talk to sales” chatbot when your target prospects are on-site while hiding it for other visitors.

For example, imagine that your lead scoring tools determine that a visitor named Nicolas is worth talking to. Then, he’d see the chat option in the lower right corner:

On the other hand, if a visitor named Mike doesn’t meet your lead scoring threshold, the chat icon would be removed and he would not have the option to talk to anyone:

Sending personalized emails based on behavior

Once you start tracking what pages a prospect is visiting on your site, you can send them targeted messages based on that browsing behavior.

The team at Pinterest are experts at incorporating user data into their emails as a way to keep users engaged and to try to close new prospects. They take what they know about someone’s behavior and use it to send personalized emails.

Or let’s consider another example. Imagine you are on JCrew’s site looking at denim, it might trigger their marketing department to send you an email all about their new jeans:

But it’s not just large B2C companies that can go the personalization route!

For example, if someone visits your FAQ page about implementation several times in one day, it’s a good indication they could use some more info on how to best implement your service. That could be a good time to send them an email with a blog post explaining implementation best practices.

Even if the campaign is automatically triggered — your prospect will be wowed by your attention to detail.

You can also send targeted emails by leveraging third-party intent data, which is data collected about user behavior off-site. For instance, if a prospect checks out your product page on G2Crowd, you could send them a message that acknowledges the difficulty of selecting quality software, thank them for considering your product, and dive into what makes your software great.

Personalized emails get a 41% higher click-through-rates and 29% higher open rates, so they are well worth incorporating.

Treat your VIP prospects like friends

When you buy a gift for a good friend, you put in the effort. You think back on comments they made about things they liked. You scroll through their social media to get ideas. You ask people you know for good gift ideas.

And if it all works out, you present them with something really meaningful that they will treasure for a long time.

Treat your VIP prospects the same way by incorporating 1 to 1 marketing. Make your messaging feel warm and personal across the funnel so that they see you as a true partner, not just some business hawking them a generic product. If you do so, you’ll win big accounts that drive up your LTV and set your company up for long-term success.