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One to one marketing: What is it and how can you start doing it right now?

One to one marketing defined

One to one marketing is the tailoring of customer communications based on the recipient’s individual preferences and behavioural history. It’s also referred to as personalised or relationship marketing.

What 1:1 marketing is not

A new concept or complicated!

As far back as 1999, the Harvard Business Review was emphasising its importance. Marketing has changed a lot in 20 years, however (yes it was that long ago!).

Or rather, marketing technology has changed. 

When the HBR put together that report, they cautioned that to successfully roll out a one to one marketing campaign, you would need considerable in-house IT resources, both developmental and support.

They presented one to one marketing as a full-on, long-term transformational project that required input from a range of internal stakeholders.

But advances in marketing technology have accelerated this process significantly. Typically, our clients are launching personalised campaigns, across multiple channels, within 12 weeks.

Inbound vs outbound

I think this is a crucial distinction. Very often, when online posts mention personalised marketing, they are talking about inbounds. 

I’ve seen the example of the fast-food order again and again. You know the one. You call, text, email or place your order via an app, and the restaurant already knows your address (and digitally savvy brands will even suggest your favourite dishes). 

This is great, and definitely personalisation, no argument from me there. But that’s only the starting point. The next level on from this is being able to actively reach out to those customers with personalised, relevant offers.

Outbound marketing is a far more nuanced and, at times, a high-risk endeavour. And that’s what we’re focusing on in this article.

The value of 1:1 marketing

Marketing analysts at both Gartner and McKinsey have written at length about the effects of personalisation on a brand’s ROI. They estimate that it leads to a 10-15% increase in revenue (and our in-house data suggests the same).

This shouldn’t surprise us. The goal right now for brands is to show the consumer that you know them. And if you get can the kinds of products and content they are looking for in front of them more often then conversions will follow naturally.

That’s what one to one marketing is all about; adding value to your customer’s digital experience. 

So here’s some practical advice to get you started.

Three Rs of one to one marketing

We’ll cover specific use cases later in this article that have proven successful, but for now, I want to emphasize three constants across all of them; respectful, relevant and rewarding customer experiences.

The three Rs of one to one marketing


“Allow me to opt out at will, use my data in good faith and don’t over-message me”. 

Data-ownership has been one of the most dissected marketing topics of the past couple of years. We always emphasise the importance of following the strictest guidelines to our clients.

Consumers are protective of their personal information and rightly so. We must respect the data we have and use it sensibly.

‘Permission-to-message’ is also a key concept. It should be clear to your users how to opt-out if they want. This is particularly true of a channel like push notifications (both app and web browser).

And it’s important not to over-message your audience either. We encourage our clients to use frequency caps across their different engagement channels so that users don’t become fatigued.


“Only contact me about things I’m interested in”.

Few things annoy us more than when our smartphone beeps, interrupting the flow of our workday or downtime, only to see its a marketing message about something we have zero interest in.

Intelligent segmentation is vital to prevent this. Brands are moving on from blast messaging and beginning to target smaller groups of users with hyper-personalised content and offers, based on their previous behaviour and known attributes.


“Offer me something valuable”. 

The value of a marketing message is obvious for the brand behind it, but how often do you stop to think about what’s in for the recipient? 

Always try to think about the messages you’re sending from the recipient’s point of view. Would you engage with it? Focus on the incentive and the open rates and click-throughs will look after themselves! 

The building blocks of personalised marketing

There are three components here; data, segmentation and individualisation.

Three core ingredients of a one to one marketing campaign

The role of data in relationship marketing campaigns
Data is king

More valuable than oil, more useful than precious metals, data has become the world’s most sought-after commodity

And it is the lifeblood of personalised marketing campaigns.

As a service partner, we talk all the time about how data needs to be accessible and actionable.  

That’s probably the first hurdle that a lot of brands need to jump, and it can seem daunting. Over the years, it’s common for organisations to have taken on a variety of channel providers over the years.

As a result, they have several separate sources of customer data, with no awareness of one another. The consolidation of data silos into a single repository is a fundamental part of personalised marketing campaigns.

Data collection

We recommend brands begin with a “listening” phase, building up a comprehensive portfolio of customer data and behavioural insights.

The type of data you’ll want to gather depends on your business goals, but at a minimum, you’ll be tracking metrics like page views, on-page activity, time on site, traffic source, date since last activity, total spend etc.

You can also reach out to customers and ask them what they want to hear about. This works in both parties’ favour, you gain a deeper window into your audience’s interests and the customer gets to curate their experience to some extent.

The Xtremepush platform has an enterprise-grade analytics engine and is fully integrated with Google Analytics. This means you can seamlessly import existing data and use it straight away in your marketing campaigns.


Correctly identifying and building the right customer segments will do more to enhance the performance of your marketing campaigns than any other single initiative.

Typically, brands group users together in terms of intent, funnel stage or buyer readiness, account status, risk of churn and so on, as well as biographical information (age, gender, location etc). You might also want to target users based on their device type so you can deliver optimal experiences.

The most successful segments are those which combine multiple data points, for example, “hasn’t opened the app in 3 weeks” and “interested in ice hockey”. It suddenly becomes so much easier for a marketer to create an engaging message that brings them back into the app.

Identifying your most valuable 20%

Most of you will be familiar with the Pareto or 80/20 principle. Essentially, it suggests that 80% of your revenue is generated by 20% of your loyal customers.

It’s an approximation, of course, but it largely accurate across all verticals.

If you were able to identify that 1 VIP customer in every 5 and contact them directly, what messages or offers would you want to share?

Segmentation by total spend, or frequency of activity, allows you to further strengthen your relationship with, and increase wallet-share, from those customers.


And so we come to the final part of the puzzle; bringing everything all together and delivering personalised experiences.

There are three overlapping elements here; dynamic content, automation and right-time delivery.

Dynamic Content

Typing out every individual message isn’t feasible. That’s where dynamic content comes into play.

It’s a line of code in a templated message that pulls in data relevant to the recipient. If it was an email campaign, as in the example below, the same message populates with different content depending on the individual’s preferences.

An example of a one to one marketing email campaign

If you’re interested, we’ve written this guide for marketers explaining dynamic content in more depth. It’ll give you a sound grasp of it works.

Automated workflows

It’s not possible to achieve results at speed and scale without a robust automation tool behind you. 

Sophisticated workflows allow you to map how and when you engage with your customers throughout their journeys. A lot of brands will prioritise a welcome or onboarding series which can gently nudge the user towards early goal completion.

Or if your business model is subscription-based, you’ll want to set up campaigns that engage customers at risk of churning. 

Start simple and gradually add in more branches to account for additional behaviours over time. 

Example of the automated workflow tool in Xtremepush

Real and right-time delivery

Let’s define these two terms.

Real-time is a capability, but ultimately right-time is the goal. Depending on your target audience, the circumstances and the engagement channel, it may be more appropriate to trigger the message 10 minutes, 4 hours or 2 days after the event or behaviour!

It’s important to have the capacity to respond in real-time, however, as it allows you to capitalise on engagement opportunities as they occur. 

For example, if an app-user was struggling to log-in to their account, or was having trouble creating one in the first place, you’d want the in-app message resolving their issue to be served immediately.

And by the same token, it’s important to have a reliable scheduling tool that gives you the ability to stagger communications in line with your objectives and optimal time-to-send.

In the use case of an abandoned cart recovery message, for example, the data might reveal that engagement rates are highest when it’s delivered 24 hours after the customer leaves the checkout.

Taking the first step towards personalised marketing

We know it can seem daunting at first, but personalisation at scale is achievable. 

Schedule a demo of our platform today to see for yourself. We’ll work with you to devise use cases that drive core business goals across any of your digital channels.

About Xtremepush

Xtremepush is the complete digital engagement platform, purpose-built for multichannel marketing. It empowers brands to deliver personalised, relevant and real-time messages across email, web browser, mobile app, sms and social messengers.

The platform is completely modular and combines enterprise-grade analytics with a full suite of campaign and automation tools. This provides brands with accessible and actionable data, enabling them to unify the silos, create dynamic customer experiences and execute core business goals at speed and scale.

Xtrempush was named in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile Marketing Platforms. Read that report here.

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