It’s difficult to ignore the fact that the marketing landscape is shifting to a more personalized approach, especially now that the means to do so are readily available. Some marketers already have their strategies down-pat while others are still getting on board the hype train. Wherever you fall on the bell curve as a marketer, personalized marketing is likely on your mind one way or another. The focus on tailoring content and messages towards specific, even hyper-specific audiences seems to be the theme in this era of marketing strategies.

Personalization is an obvious benefit to any marketer who possesses the right data and knows how to execute on it. Creating content that is tailored to a specific demographic will likely yield a better response versus a wide-blanket approach that lacks any considerable thought. Businesses can better connect and build trust with their customers through a personalized approach, which creates a stronger brand loyalty that can ultimately lead to business growth.

While it is certainly beneficial for businesses to access to this kind of information, it’s also important to note what boundaries to consider when personalizing your marketing content. There is a line to cross when going from wide-blanket to tailor-made, but there is another line that shouldn’t be crossed after that: the line that gets too personal. Remember that you are a business, not a family member. There are certain things that you shouldn’t be trying to learn about your customer and certain behaviors you should avoid when building a relationship with them. Figuring out personalization can be a tricky balancing act, so here are a few do’s and don’t’s to consider in your marketing strategy:

Do understand who your ideal customer is.

What services or products are you offering and who would benefit the most from them? The clearer you can define this, the easier it is to focus in on marketing to those prospects. Marketing hiking gear to somebody who spends much of their time indoors is likely a waste of time. Marketing it to somebody who spends time outdoors but is usually playing sports is better, but not perfect. Marketing it to somebody who spends every waking spare moment climbing a mountain is probably your best bet.

Do make sure you possess correct and relevant data for your target audience.

What information makes the most sense to build content around and what information lacks any significant impact on your strategies? Where are you getting your data from and is it a reliable source? Like anything worth taking action on, ensuring you have the proper information first will save you a ton of headaches down the road.

Do get creative.

Part of personalized marketing involves thinking of ways to impress your target audience, which means coming up with new ideas and showing them something they’ve never seen before. If you’re doing a direct mail campaign, think of how you could include a sample of your product/service in your mailing pieces. If you’re using email marketing, find ways to innovate on personalized URLs (PURLs). Don’t stay stagnant with your marketing approaches. Find new ways to ‘wow’ your consumers.

Personalization is an obvious benefit to any marketer who possesses the right data and knows how to execute on it.

Do use social media.

This might be obvious for a lot of companies nowadays, but social media is especially handy in personalized content. It’s one, if not the best tool for businesses to use to communicate directly with their customers. Because of this, it makes it easier to engage with your consumer base and gain some insight into what they want to see from you in regards to content. It’s also a great way to get a community involved and share content from users who are engaged with your business. If people are creating content around products or services they’ve purchased from you, share that content on your social pages! This is easily one of the best ways to show customer appreciation and it has a huge impact on customer loyalty. Seeing a company share your testimonial about their service or showcase your fan photo of you using their product would probably make you feel pretty special. In turn, you may become more attached to their brand and furthermore spread the word that you were featured on their page. That turns into more leads which can convert into more business opportunities, not to mention you yourself might consider future purchases from them. All of this comes from one simple sharing of customer content that results in a strengthening of your brand in a very cost-effective way.

Also consider Facebook’s ad targeting abilities. It is mind-boggling how specifically it can narrow down the particular audience you’re looking for. This is a good way to build content around a target demographic and then distribute it via a Facebook ad that is set to your guidelines. It’s not very obtrusive and it has the potential to reach a few thousand users within a day or two.

Don’t get too personal.

Let’s go back to the point about knowing the difference between being a business and being a family member. Knowing that your target consumer is named Jeff Smith, likes to play basketball, and often searches for sports attire on Amazon is different from knowing Jeff Smith, son of James and Kelly Smith, who sleeps in the northern-most bedroom of the house and eats his dinner at 6:30 sharp every Tuesday evening. Use common sense when you’re personalizing your marketing material. You likely won’t want other businesses knowing every detail about your personal life (conspiracy theories aside), so don’t practice the same with your marketing strategy. Keep your data at a distance and execute on it wisely. You want to show consumers you care, not that you want to be involved in their personal life.

Don’t personalize just because you can.

The point of personalizing your content is to create an experience that makes your customers feel cared about and not just another potential lead on your list. If you’re looking to personalize, follow up on the commitment. Obviously this can be harder at scale, but do your best to show people you mean well and are interested in providing them with real value with the products and services you have to offer.

Don’t make your content seem too automated.

It’s easy to plug-and-play data points into scripted messages, but try not to sound like that’s all the thought you cared to put into your content. Do your research and find nuances within certain demographics that you can work with in order to better appeal to them.

Don’t get complacent.

Things change, innovations are made, and trends start all the time. Marketing is a constant game of knowing what methods are available and how to use them to get people’s attention. Once you’ve figured out who you’re looking for as a customer, don’t be afraid to try new things with them. Continue building on those relationships and strengthening their trust in your brand. This generation is also much more willing to share personal information with their trusted businesses so long as they feel comfortable enough doing so. The better you can convey to your consumers that you genuinely appreciate their business, the more likely you’ll be able to generate and maintain a high level of trust that will turn into more business for you.

Personalization is a key means of creating a great customer experience and fostering trust with your consumer base. Learning how to appeal to your customers’ wants and needs and engaging with them on a consistent basis shows that you truly value their business with you. Know who you’re going after, show them you have what they’re looking for, and keep that relationship going. The era of “one-size-fits-all” is slowly fading away. Brands who understand how to market themselves to the right people the right way are the ones who will find success in this new landscape.