Personalisation has been the holy grail for many marketing organisations for what seems like forever. While at its surface, for many marketers, personalisation seems straight forward, and with modern technology, seems it would be easy to implement. Unfortunately, these assumptions couldn’t be further from reality.
As with many modern marketing efforts, organisations must grow through a maturity model in order to reap the benefits of their efforts. Personalisation is no exception, in fact, it is probably one of the most important maturity models to follow. Those companies who move through the model too fast tend to become overwhelmed with data and struggle to find the relevancy and appropriation of personalisation efforts. Late last year, I co-hosted a webinar with HGS Digital, Take Personalisation to the Next Level with Hyper-Personalisation, where Venu Gooty, head of data analytics and intelligence, identified a very clear personalisation maturity model:
1. Ad hoc marketing: Marketers are distributing siloed campaigns to their entire database of contacts. Typically, these marketing departments have a simple CMS, email marketing platform, and PPC/ad platforms. Companies who are at this level are not ready for personalisation.
2. Aligned and ready to scale: Marketing teams are aligning their content to customer journey mapping and gaining insights of customer behavior from analytics software to test using A/B testing. At this point, teams are seeking MarTech to fill gaps in their digital strategy. Companies are ready to begin their personalisation journey by segmenting their visitors by site activity and/or location information.
3. Unified and data driven: Here is where we introduce Customer Data Platforms (CDP) and can connect MarTech, back office, and personalisation applications together. These connections coupled with powerful advanced analytics applications provide marketing teams the insights needed to tailor content to individuals rather than segmented groups.
4. Innovative and experimental: The most mature marketing teams are pushing the envelope with technology and personalisation tactics. They have connected and utilise their corporate data lake infrastructure and now have enough data to experience the value of artificial intelligence (AI) for predictive and prescriptive insights. Not only are these teams marketing on an individualistic level, they are, with the help of AI, looking into the future and pushing content to end users proactively.
When it comes to initiating a journey toward personalisation, it is important to organically grow in maturity. Leapfrogging steps will cause teams to miss valuable connections and tribal knowledge which comes through their rite of passage.
With the pathway to personalisation identified, let’s look at the basic elements you need: data, content, and applications.
All personalisation capabilities are derived from customer data. It is the foundation; it provides the information in which content can be separated for one group or individual and not others. At its most basic function, collected customer data produces reports to track trends, performance, activity, etc. The collection of data can and should expand beyond your website and into social media, digital engagements, IoT (Internet of Things) devices, back office applications, and any other systems which stores or captures activity from your customers. As you can imagine, there is a lot of data being collected, where in lies the birth of CDPs to help store and analyse the immense amount of information.
Once data is collected and insights are gleaned, teams must prepare content for these segments or groups of end users. Let’s face it, not all content is applicable to all groups, IT is very responsive to a deeper level of technology and connectivity than Business focused groups. Developing and distributing the right level of content to the right audience is the first key step in personalisation. According to eMarketer, personalised content drives better lead generation, keeps users on websites longer, increases sales conversions and more. Content is the key to digital experiences, when personalised, you virtually form a relationship with your end users which makes them feel good, wanted, and appreciated. This positive experience results in better customer engagement.
Personalisation relies on applications to segment out the customers based on rules and criteria established by the marketing teams. This does not just apply to B2C companies, but B2B as well. Gartner appeals to B2B companies in their Use Personalisation to Enrich Customer Experience and Drive Revenue report by Penny Gillespie and Guneet Bharaj. “…in a B2B scenario, an organisation can build a persona of a buyer or a customer and then can present specific content based on this persona”. All companies should consider personalisation as a part of their digital engagement no matter where they are in the supply chain.
For those organisations who are more mature in personalisation, artificial intelligence can play a tremendous role with predicting and placing the right content to the right audience. According to SAS, in its report, Experience 2030 – The Future of Customer Experience is Now, Daniel Newman and Fred McClimans call out the important role AI will have in future marketing automation and personalisation initiatives. “Tomorrow’s customer journeys and personalisation will be even smarter, more immersive, more trust-enabling. More customer experience initiatives will be run by AI and machine learning algorithms, automated software applications or bots.”
For companies who are just starting their personalisation journey, a more prescriptive path can help target segmented customer groups – IT or Marketing – with content more relevant to their interests. Personalisation applications orchestrate the placement of personalised content to the right audience at the right time. More advanced applications can offer predictive and prescriptive analytics – identifying what users will do next and where they want to go – and couple these insights with marketing automation tools to dynamically drive content to help prospects convert to customers.
Marketing organisations have been chasing personalisation for many years, few have uncovered the secrets to better customer engagement, yet most still struggle with the basics. The need to get back to the basics of personalisation – the right data, content, and application – is paramount as the expectations set by customers is ever increasing. Nailing personalisation takes time, testing, and technique; your efforts will be rewarded if you focus on the basics.
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