Personalization and automation score for World Cup

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While US men’s national soccer team players will be watching the World Cup finals from their couches this weekend, the United States Soccer Federation played a perfect game from the perspective of personalized marketing. Here’s what U.S. Soccer did and how you can use personalization and automation to score your own marketing goals.


While the US team was gritting it out on the pitch, the marketing folks played the part of cheerleader on social media, keeping up a steady stream of exciting content. This is par for the course and most every sports team does this. What U.S. Soccer also did that was special was how they married personalization and automation:


In addition to @ussoccer, the US team’s official Twitter account, there was also an account called @ussoccer_reply. This second account was set up to automatically tweet a personalized link to anyone who mentioned @ussoccer. The link featured a jersey with the person’s Twitter handle written across it and a note from Coach Jurgen Klinsmann addressing the tweeter by name. Below all that was a link to buy that customized jersey.


Here’s the personalized link one of my assistants received.


U.S. Soccer really scored a goal with this marketing effort. Here’s what they did right and how you can use their example in your own business:


1, Relevancy.  U.S. Soccer hawked relevant a product to a relevant audience at a relevant time. The audience was relevant because they weren’t just random people on Twitter, or even random soccer fans on Twitter. They were people who were passionate enough about soccer and the US team to mention the team on Twitter, thus they already had a connection with and an interest in U.S. Soccer. The timing was relevant because these reply tweets were sent out instantly when @ussoccer was mentioned and U.S. Soccer stopped sending these tweets shortly after the U.S. exited the tournament. As for the product, what could be more relevant than a jersey when it comes to sports?


Apply the principle of relevancy to your business—use segmentation and personas to target your marketing messages. The more personalized the content you provide is, the more relevant it is for your customers.


Thanks to technology and Big Data, you can provide supremely customized content very easily. For example, earlier this year, Morten Hjelmsoe, CEO of Agnitio, shared on my blog how his company makes software for iPads that allows pharmaceutical reps to customize the content they share with doctors on sales calls. The customization is so easy, that it can be done in real time while the sales rep is with the doctor (and you know how much time doctors give you when you’re paying them for their time—think about how much time they give to people who just want to sell them stuff!).


2, Personalization. U.S. Soccer didn’t just tweet a generic link to the team’s store. Instead, they used software that pulled a person’s name and handle from their Twitter profiles to create personalized content. This level of real time personalized marketing is gold!


Here are some statistics on the effectiveness of personalized marketing:


  • Marketers who personalized the web experience for their customers see an average of 19% improvement in sales (Monetate).


  • Four-in-ten consumers buy more from retailers who personalized the shopping experience across channels (MyBuys). (Speaking of different channels, did I mention that the link @ussoccer_reply tweeted was responsive?)


  • Almost three-fourths (74%) of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content isn’t relevant to them (Janrain).


U.S. Soccer nailed personalization with their promotion. (If there were play-by-play announcers calling the marketing side of the World Cup, they would be shouting “GOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL!” right now.)


3, Automation.  U.S. Soccer’s personalized jersey promotion was entirely automated, making life a lot easier for the marketing team. Marketing automation is amazing—when it works—and terrible when it doesn’t. Many times marketing automation efforts fail because either the marketer’s list is flawed (AARP here) or there is some human error in the creation of the content (Neolane here). When you apply automation to your marketing, don’t forget to check and double check everything.



Regardless of whether you like the game of soccer or not, you can take a cue from U.S. Soccer and use personalization to boost your marketing efforts!

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