7 Crazy Elements of Personalization in Pregnancy Marketing

According to Experian Marketing Services, personalized emails generate six times higher transaction rates than other marketing channels. It’s no surprise that it’s a marketing channel that brands take seriously. And I’ve recently realized just how seriously they take it.

For the past seven months, I’ve been the target of the most calculated, personalized marketing efforts I’ve ever experienced — pregnancy marketing.

According to Janet Vertesi, a sociology professor from Princeton University who made every effort to hide her pregnancy from big data, the average person’s marketing data is worth 10 cents to brands, whereas a pregnant woman’s data is upwards of $1.50.

So, why is this the case and where are they getting all of this data? Let’s dig in.

Here are the seven craziest elements of personalization I’ve found during pregnancy, along with some marketing takeaways you can learn from.

1. Brands Invest in Long Term Customer Acquisition

At 31 weeks pregnant with my first child, I can feel how valuable I am to marketers.

I’m embarking on a journey of one million questions and concerns and one of the biggest life changes of all, and brands know the relief new parents feel when they find a product and brand they like.

Once I find a brand I like for a certain item I am naturally more likely to become a long-term customer and turn to their products later on in my child’s life (like with a toddler car seat, baby carrier, etc.) Retailers know this. That’s why they’re after people just like me.

Marketing takeaway: Focus on acquiring customers who will make repeat purchases.

2. Social Media Commentary = Data

When it comes to gleaning the necessary data to drive all of this personalization, I can imagine pregnant women make it fairly simple for marketers.

I’ve spent countless hours online researching pregnancy symptoms, one-bedroom friendly registry items (hello mini cribs!), pregnancy apps, new mom forums, maternity clothes, baby registries, and of course, making purchases that only an expecting mother would. I also spend time on social media where people have publicly congratulated me and where people have directly shared pregnancy-related content with me.

It’s no surprise that these behaviors have led to some pretty serious engagement from content and product sites.

Marketing takeaway: Use social media data to target your marketing messages. Facebook ads allow you to target based on interest and demographics, and Twitter allows you to direct ads to particular conversations, like hashtags.

3. They Know You Want a Baby

We’ve all heard the childhood chant: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” While it doesn’t always pan out that way, it makes sense that marketers tap into this typical evolution of relationships.

Almost exactly one year after I was married, I started getting emails from The Bump, the pregnancy website and partner of The Knot where I frequented for wedding planning and my registry. While I was turned off by the assumption that I wanted a child precisely one year after marriage (because I did not), they were using data to predict my life stage and they did it rather gently with a few simple emails. By planting the seed via non-invasive messaging early on, The Bump locked me in as a potential consumer of their content based on the data they had.

Marketing takeaway: Pay attention to social cues and purchasing behavior surrounding life events.

4. They Know You’re Pregnant Before You Do

You may have heard the story about how Target knows you’re pregnant before you do.

In 2012, Target was the subject of a NY Times article that revealed how brands used predictive analysis for exactly the kind of marketing we are talking about in this post. The story discusses the highly advanced system of that retail giants use to track and anticipate consumer behavior, and how eerily accurate the results can be — as illustrated by the case of teenage girl in Minnesota, who Target “knew was pregnant” before her family did.

For better or worse, this kind of targeting is becoming the industry standard for marketers. But understandably, it’s alarming for consumers.

While the Target situation has stirred up quite a controversy in the last year or so, I do believe there are some lessons we can all learn from this formulaic approach to a nurture program.

After my husband and me, CVS was the first to know I was pregnant. It was all because I purchased prenatal vitamins and a pregnancy test kit from them months before I was expecting, I was locked into a nurture program from there on out.

From a coupon for Tums during my first trimester to stretch mark cream in my second trimester to diaper coupons just this week, CVS is paying attention to my pregnancy timeline.

There’s something important to note: I don’t get pregnancy-related coupons every time I go, and when I do, they are coupled with typical and even random items. CVS learned from the mistakes of others who have been attacked for being “too creepy” in their personalization marketing, so they seem to be taking steps to avoid stepping over the line.

Marketing takeaway: Personalize your marketing, but don’t go overboard.

5. They Know More About Your Baby (and Your Body) Than You Do

There’s a predictability that comes with pregnancy, but as a first-time pregnant woman, I don’t know all the answers. Marketers can capitalize on these stages if they’ve done their homework.

For example, The BabyCenter app is fantastic and sends me weekly push notifications to let me know around how big my baby is and how I should be feeling this week. At week 22, I received an email with the headline, “Feeling Your Baby Kick.” Statistics show that women typically feel the baby kick between 16-22 weeks, so their timing was right on.

BabyCenter Email

 

Feeling like what’s happening to you is normal is one of the key goals in pregnancy.

BabyCenter knows that about its audience and their entire strategy centers around fulfilling that information gap pregnant consumers often feel.

Marketing takeaway: Set up time-based nurturing for your customers to help them “count down” and plan for big events. You can also do this to encourage repeat purchases. If someone bought a three-month supply of contacts, you should remind them in month #2 to place another order.

6. They Know When You’re Due

Since my husband and I are registered at BuyBuyBaby for an upcoming shower, they now know my due date.

Take a look at the emails I’ve received from Enfamil (a baby formula product and partner of BuyBuyBaby). Each month, they send me updates, articles and coupons for items I might need.

Enfamil Emails

I know that Enfamil wants me to buy their products. But, their strategy isn’t to sell me anything yet.

They’ve implemented a true nurture program by delivering useful content and because of that, I do have to say I feel more loyalty to them than any other formula product if and when I choose to purchase any post-baby.

Marketing takeaway: You don’t always have to go right in for the sell. Delivering useful and timely newsletter content helps build credibility with those subscribers.

7. They Know What Kind of Mom You Want to Be

My registry and browsing behavior has made two things very clear:

#1 I’m a future city mom.

#2 I’m a runner.

I have read dozens of articles and have searched on consumer reports to find the very best mini crib for my one bedroom apartment. I ran the Boston Marathon during my first trimester, so naturally, a lot of my early pregnancy was spent reading “Is it safe to run a marathon pregnant?” kinds of articles. I have also registered for a jogging stroller.

This is precisely the kind of data that businesses store in their databases. Without even realizing it, I’ve delivered invaluable data to anyone who cares to dig for it.

While I’m not bombarded with mini everything for my apartment (although I sure wouldn’t mind it), brands have certainly leveraged Facebook retargeting for my product searches. Pottery Barn and Target are far and away the most direct with retargeting, delivering products I’ve searched for as well as “You May Also Like” products.

Target Retargeting FB

Marketing Takeaway: When you notice a trend in your customers’ clicks, spend your retargeting budget on high performing items that are closely aligned or identical to the searches your customer has conducted, not random products.

Applying This to Your Marketing

Sure, Target and other retailers may have crossed the line from personalized to creepy, but there are a lot of lessons marketers can takeaway from the hyper-personalized marketing approach that is pregnancy marketing.

  • Know your target audience. Pregnant women want to feel a sense of normalcy and security around major decisions, so the good marketers are tapping into those emotions and vulnerabilities by delivering content, support and advice that makes sense for their audience at that specific time in their pregnancy.
  • Don’t overdo it. Similar to CVS, learn from the mistakes of others and don’t push people over the edge with personalization. If your data shows a potential customer is interested in purchasing a home, don’t congratulate them on the purchase. Instead, deliver useful content or even coupons that might be helpful for them as they make home furnishing decisions.
  • Be helpful and don’t always go for the sale. There are millions at stake when reeling in a pregnant customer, but the good marketers are the ones that aren’t bombarding women with products and subscriptions. Instead, they are the ones delivering content like BabyCenter, Enfamil and even BuyBuyBaby while also sprinkling in some discounts and product announcements when it makes sense.

Photo Credit: David Salafia via Compfight cc

So, what life changes do you feel your business could leverage better? And, tell me, do you find pregnancy marketing too invasive? Let me know in the comments!

 

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2 comments

  • A

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