How marketers can achieve personalization at scale in this new digital era?

februar 2020
februar 2020 Jesper Reinholdt
Understanding personalization and its profitability

Up until recently, marketing technologies, automation, and analytics have undergone a substantial development, which is redefining and reshaping those techniques to the benefit of companies fully embracing the new digital era. It is a constant and rapidly evolving field, which endlessly introduces novelty, providing significant improvements, and which can positively change for good your company and its processes. Particularly, nowadays, the possibilities marketing technologies provide can support your business in achieving meaningful 1:1 personalization, allowing you to scale these processes up and to ultimately perform at the best of your company’s potential. In order to succeed in delivering highly personalized contents and offerings, the essential task to consider is to integrate and rely on data discovery, marketing automation, and content distribution, based on systematically test out ideas with your customers, learning from them, and iterating the whole process. Nevertheless, these might be considered as some first basic steps, which have to be strengthened and enhanced, since further tactics are required, especially considering the current competitive landscape. In a digital era where nearly everything is highly customizable, where is mandatory to provide unique customer experiences to strike the competition, and where companies confront themselves with their customers’ attention scarcity and increased demands for relevant contents, just opt for personalized marketing efforts might not be sufficient, and companies are realizing that it is necessary to operate personalization at scale.

As a matter of fact, it is no coincidence that personalization at scale is gradually imposing as a new, most profitable, digital marketing trend. Personalization at scale secures your business with deeper engagement for your customers, whom needs and expectations are continuously shifting, given that personalization taps over your customers’ emotions, particularly their implicit need to feel understood by the brands they interact with, almost in real-time. Therefore, personalization at scale represents a strategic approach that can easily yield better results by adopting a few minor expedients. By slightly tailoring your digital marketing execution based on customer data, such as demographics, location or purchase history, your marketing efforts can reach millions of customers, each of them with personally relevant contents, without being invasive. Through such a strategy, your company will finally attain a 1:1 personalization on a vast scale, securing itself with unique differentiator assets. In order to build up those assets, however, it is mandatory to invest and implement digital marketing capabilities and to follow a few recommendations.

Laying the fundamentals of personalization at scale

As your customers navigate through non-linear, omnichannel journeys, switching more and more frequently devices and platforms, and given that it is necessary to engage and focus over their emotions and experiences at every point of their buying journey, it is scarcely realistic and strategic to convey the right content, and expecting that it will find its way at the right time in the right place. The crucial goal is to tailor your marketing efforts, narrowing them down and engaging your customers in a more limited and yet relevant way, scaling up the process, in order to deliver greater value to your consumers, and earn their trust.

Personalization implies that your content is dynamically and contextually developed based on each individual needs, expectations, and emotions, in a uniform way across channels, including all interactions, such as marketing, online and offline shopping, and service experiences. Furthermore, your company efforts need to be consistent and relevant to your customers, also considering their experiences across multiple channels along their journey. Personalization at scale solves this critical issue since it allows your company to deliver a personalized experience across a context characterized by marketing channels and devices proliferation. To achieve such a result, your company needs to implement processes and operations which are required to be smoothly executed in real-time and across complex and disparate systems, highly relying on marketing automation. Moreover, to be efficiently scaled up, personalization demands your company to focus on finding meaningful ways to interpret your audience members, assigning them segmentations values, and conveying your marketing efforts in a time-sensitive and fast-changing manner, delivering dynamic content which reacts to segmentation data. Therefore, data collection and discovery, interpretation, and highlight customer insights are core competencies your company needs to invest in. By using segmentation data to inform programmatic marketing efforts, especially when it comes to contents and offerings tailoring, your business will be able to assemble and deliver a responsive experience, which will adapt to your customers’ most important needs and values. Most importantly, through data segmentation your company will achieve a refined customer profiling, attaining hyper-segmentation, which would grant you the possibility to define a multifaceted customer identity, and perfectly mirror your customers. Hence, marketing automation, data segmentation, and consequently data-driven marketing, lie at the foundation of personalization at scale. However, in order to master personalization as a strategic approach, further steps are recommended.

5 steps towards achieving personalization at scale

To unlock the potential of personalization at scale, as a strategic differentiator on the market, and to secure your company and brand with a more memorable and both mental and emotional customers’ engagement, five main steps are suggested to be followed:

1. Deploying efficient technologies

First, you need to adopt the right marketing technologies, both in terms of data sources and automation. Your company should first consider which kinds of data are most profitable and efficient to be tracked and analyzed. At this stage, it is suggested to take on a “not-related-channels” approach, opting for both primary data and secondary data, and an overall view. Therefore, taking into account both the data collected through customer interactions, and the data arranged by second parties. It is also recommended to opt for mixed solutions, including CRM databases, web analytics, and content management systems.

2. Identify audience groups and hyper-segment them

Adopting the right technologies would grant your company to identify your meaningful target audiences, and segment them. Segmentation, and subsequently hyper-segmentation, yields endless possibilities, but it is recommended to start within the customer journeys. Customers’ needs and expectations vary according to their stands on their buying journey with your business. Mapping their journey would grant you to cast light on those programs that nurture your customers’ experiences through each stage of the sales funnel, delivering more personalized contents. Additionally, it is suggested to consider segmenting based on demographics or behavioural data. As a result, your company will forge nuanced and meaningful identities, and offer them a relevant, cohesive, and personal story across channels and devices.

3.  Select relevant channels

Preferably, you should start listing out all your customer’s touch-points, specifically the digital ones, such as email marketing, your landing pages, apps, etc. since every touch-point grants your company with several personalization opportunities. Based on a close monitoring of their performances, you should rather select the most relevant channels, meaning the ones with a higher overall performance. Notably, though, you should take into consideration that channels’ performance varies according to your targeted audience segment, and their stages within their purchasing journeys. Moreover, bear in mind that channel usage does not imply a channel preference and that it recommended testing it out against your customers’ explicit inclinations.

4. Operate programmatically

Once you have identified, selected and refined both your target audience and your relevant channels, the next mandatory step is to tailor the most efficient types of personalization that significantly matter to your segments, taking into account their strengths and limitations across channels, in an iterative process. Ideally, these operations need to be smoothly undertaken within your strategy and marketing efforts, adopting a real-time and dynamic approach. Therefore, to finally scale up the whole process, it is required to operate programmatically, with minimal manual intervention, opting for marketing automation.

5. Make the most out of the connection

Remember that, although personalized content and messages will support your business in gaining your selected segments’ attention, your overall marketing strategy has to be restructured in order to foster a meaningful influence over your customers and their behaviours. Therefore, it is recommended to always provide them with direct opportunities (e.g. direct calls-to-action) to connect with your business, on an emotional level, in order to attain a superior customer experience.

A series of personalized messages, contents, offerings, campaigns, and programs, which are optimized into a sequential and cohesive story, flowing logically across channels, nurture the relationship your customers build within their journey with your company. It is ultimately more efficient and effective, secured with a constant personal touch, since it taps on customers’ emotions and needs to feel understood, and at the centre of your business. In the next issue, the journey towards achieving greater customer-centricity will be analyzed in-depth.