My seventh interview was with John Foley, President/CEO of interlinkONE and President/CMO of GrowSocially. I’d been interacting with John over the last several years through our social media accounts and as a fellow contributor to the Digital Nirvana blog, and thought he would have some interesting thoughts on the face of marketing to come in 2014. You can find John on his website JohnFoleyJr.com.

John echoed many of the themes of prior interviews – Next year will hold an increased focus on content marketing, the impact of mobile and apps, and the opportunities for aggregating Big Data. All very important themes in the coming years, but our conversation really took an interesting turn when we started chatting about the amazing power of personalization, and how really DEEP personalization will impact marketing in 2014.

Personalization is on the tip of every marketer’s tongue in 2013, but the true impact goes far beyond adding a <first_name> and <company> field in an email. Truly deep personalization is set to take off in 2014, due to data, standardization in HTML5 coding, and advancements in marketing automation. Marketers in 2014 must use RELEVENT personalization that takes into account message, content, time and device.

Variable HTML and Deep Personalization

Take for example Ebay. Ebay knows all of your browsing history. They know what you’ve bought, how much you are willing to pay. The times of year you are looking for shoes, birthday presents, technology purchases, etc. What they’ve done with this data is make deeply personalized emails, with real-time and variable HTML personalized down to the individual recipient. Like any companies, their data isn’t always perfect, but with the degree of relevancy they display, I would wager that their open rates are much higher than the average. Marketers of all types must learn from these sorts of examples and focus on the depth of personalization in 2014.

Personalized Video and Augmented Reality

Personalized video also has the potential to become a game-changer, as it becomes more user-friendly and affordable for companies. This in combination with the emergence of personalized augmented reality experiences really take the power of the mobile device paired with direct mail to all new levels. Additionally, Google Glass and other wearable technology further the possibilities and the definition of “mobile marketing.” According to John “if you aren’t thinking mobile now, and in some cases, mobile first, then you are in trouble.”

A fun example of personalization John shared with me was Coke’s “Find your name” campaign, which is still active. In Great Britain, roughly the 250 most popular names have been printed on Coke bottles found in stores. Friends can personalize a Coke bottle on the Facebook app and share with a loved one, and Coke is taking the extra step into experiential marketing by taking the personalization on tour, where they can personalize your bottle on the spot. Not only can you get a personalized bottle in store, in person or virtually on Facebook, if you live in Israel, you can see your name on a personalized BILLBOARD. Now that’s power in personalization. 

Look for many other examples of smart marketers making good use of the emotional connection people have with their name in 2014.  Also expect technology to enable extremely personalized in-store experiences, and data to make that experience more relevant with each visit. A final thought from John was that “Execution trumps strategy every time.” Be proactive, eat your own dog food and try something new in 2014.  You might make a personal and profitable connection with your audience.