Solving the cross-channel personalisation problem

Sylvia Jensen is currently the Director of Marketing for the Oracle Marketing Cloud in Europe. Sylvia has held various marketing roles for technology companies such as Eloqua, WebEx, Palm, and Coremetrics. In many of these roles she’s had the privilege to kick-start marketing in Europe. Given these start up roles, she’s learned to appreciate all the different channels within marketing but always likes to see them working (hard) together. Sylvia also thoroughly enjoys the art and science of promoting technology that helps marketers do their jobs better every day. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she has spent the last 14 years in Europe living and working in cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and currently lives in the United Kingdom.

Personalised marketing is hardly anything new. It’s been around for decades and marketers have long reaped the benefits.

However, the sheer number of digital channels that consumers are engaging with has increased dramatically over recent years.

As consumers incorporate technology into more aspects of their daily lives, they meander across channels and devices as needed. They seek answers, solutions, products, and entertainment. They express interests, intent, and preferences leaving a digital trail or digital body language along the way.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the most valuable customers are the ones who engage with brands across multiple channels. They’re the ones with the deepest need, highest interest, and urgency.

It’s equally unsurprising that the brands who deliver value to customers across multiple channels see strong growth.

Consistency is key 

According to Forrester, European cross-channel retail sales will increase to 920 billion euros, or 44% of total sales, by 2018.

Furthermore, around 44% of in-store sales are predicted to have been influenced by the internet. It is no longer a question of whether or not delivering a strong cross channel experience is paramount for success, especially when customers who shop on more than one channel typically have a 30% higher lifetime valuethan those who shop on only one.

European cross-channel retail sales will increase to 920 billion euros by 2018

The opportunities for engagement and ROI in personalisation across channels are obvious but brands still struggle to achieve what’s possible.

It’s not just certain brands or industries that struggle with orchestrating personalised cross-channel experiences: only 5% of marketers say they are “very much set up to effectively orchestrate cross channel marketing activities.”

So why are marketers still finding it difficult to connect digital identities and what can they do to create a unified, personalised, customer experience?

Too much tech?

To say that the marketing technology landscape is a crowded space is an understatement of monumental proportions.

The challenge is not that the tools simply aren’t available; there are 3,874 Martech vendors, operating across 43 categories, and providing 20 marketing solutions across multiple silos.

A typical marketing department could be juggling upwards of 17 different applications.

Simply adding more tools to the digital marketing mix is adding complexity, not necessarily sophistication. 

Marketers are attempting to keep track of existing and new technology whilst determining which tool will best support Customer Experience or meet the ROI target, as opposed to focusing on actually delivering a good cross-channel experience.

adding more tools to the digital marketing mix is adding complexity, not necessarily sophistication

Understanding the ‘path to purchase’ has come to mean deciphering interaction data that spans customer journeys, channels and campaigns.

Organisations need to step back and determine how best to make the existing solutions work harder and deliver more value. That means making them work together – not just to drive better efficiency but also to transform the customer experience.

One solution

There is an inherently important need for organisations to have a single customer identity and a clear view of each customer that unites their behaviours to all channels in one comprehensive profile.

Today, certain technologies can link all the unique cross channel identifiers of a customer back to a single unique identifier.

Once you have a single unique identifier, customers can be identified across all channels and marketers can begin to personalise interactions based on channel preferences and behaviours, and reach a more precise level of targeting and segmentation by using cross-channel behavioural information in real time.

Most importantly, cross-channel communications can be integrated so that customers can be spoken to with a single voice, regardless of channel.

cross-channel communications can be integrated so that customers can be spoken to with a single voice, regardless of channel

A cloud based marketing ecosystem provides access to valuable third party data sources, information that a marketer is now in a position to effectively use having joined up the customer digital fingerprint to gain deep insight into the customer base.

Combining data modelling to define the ‘best customer’ attributes with these anonymised third party data sources supports very effective targeting, extending the company’s reach towards the ‘right’ customer type.

This is key: while tech overload is clearly a concern, marketing departments cannot afford to stop investing, discovering or innovating.

This innovation must be focused and relevant – with a single, joined up marketing ecosystem, a company can extend its reach far more effectively than simply adding new tools for the sake of it.


Many marketing technology vendors can execute on some aspects of personalisation.

Some might even be able to help marketers target their customer better. But the ability to actually use personalisation and targeting to integrate cross channel communications differentiates modern marketing solutions from other, less comprehensive and home-built alternatives.

By unifying cross channel identities and creating campaigns on a scalable cross channel program canvas, the right technology empowers marketers to reach new levels of digital sophistication and finally solve the personalisation problem.

Marketers just need to take a step back and leverage the tools that are already on offer and, critically, start to realise the phenomenal potential of marketing to transform the customer experience and deliver tangible ROI.

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