30-second summary:

  • Many marketers are lacking six important building blocks necessary for successfully employing personalization.
  • Centricity – The disparate systems and silos that can lead to fragmented business intelligence.
  • Transparency – A channel centric view that can lead to obfuscating a single source of truth.
  • Relevancy – The lack of granular trigger-based insights at the customer level.
  • Efficiency – The disconnected omnichannel media and creative strategy in the approach.
  • Accountability – The need for marketers to practice transparency, efficacy, and growth.
  • Customization – A reliance on off-the-shelf segmentation models and tactics.

Will 2020 be the year you succeed with personalizing consumer experiences at scale? It’s a worthy resolution, and as you likely know, a tough one. Before making any strategic decisions about it, you first need to establish a solid foundation from an organizational and data standpoint. I have found many marketers are lacking six important building blocks necessary for successfully employing personalization.

They are:

1) Centricity

Many organizations have disparate systems and silos—both within the marketing department and outside of it—that store different types of data in different ways. Since it’s not easy to tie all these systems to a common identity key, channel owners often gain only a fragmented view of known and unknown identity.

In fact, a 2019 Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Neustar found just 10 percent of respondents said they were very confident in their brands’ ability to build a 360-degree view of their customers.

Unfortunately, you simply can’t succeed at people-based marketing if your organization does not put customer data and identity at the center of its marketing efforts.

2) Transparency

Meanwhile, having a channel-centric view makes it difficult to understand who a person is as they move through the customer journey. Indeed, our study also found that only 42 percent of respondents (Read more...) very confident they could resolve identity across online and offline touchpoints.

This limited view also makes it more challenging on the measurement side to record who is engaging with different types of messages and how and when they do—information that is essential for tasks like offer optimization, audience segmentation, and budget allocation.

Understanding interactions across the customer journey is critical because personalization requires not just one engagement, but a combination of coordinated experiences across a multitude of devices, platforms, and channels that all work together to create a connection and influence a customer or prospect to take a specific action.

It’s not only about the offer in the message. It’s delivering the right message at the right time and on the right combination of channels that will cause someone who saw an ad on TV to then research that product on Google and then call and order that product over the phone to then finally receive the product through the mail.

This combination of omnichannel experiences is the journey that marketers need to build and influence while simultaneously maintaining trust with their customers and prospects. One wrong step or one creepy engagement can send a potentially loyal customer off course and away from your brand.


3) Efficiency

It’s just plain inefficient when multiple marketing teams work on various initiatives across channels using disconnected creative strategies and tactics, fragmented business intelligence, and different KPIs to measure performance. Those disjointed efforts will inevitably lead to wasted resources for the brand and a fragmented disjointed story for the consumer.

Instead, seek efficiency through consolidating partners, data silos, and strategic tactics across targeting and measurement. Likewise, only engage with consumers and customers on the channels and at the times that matter most.

The top brands know how to increase their efficiency by measuring crucial signals like incrementality, which helps identify which tactics and channels are increasing the likelihood of a conversion or specific action versus those that have no impact.

Advanced analytical tools like unified measurement further help to consolidate and optimize measurement procedures that integrate multiple statistical techniques, such as marketing mix modeling and multi-channel attribution.

This approach will accurately and consistently measure the financial impact of marketing investments at all levels of granularity and across all dimensions to deliver the entire value and identify the best ways to optimize customer interactions.

4) Relevancy

Marketers want to send the right offer when a person is most receptive to their message, but real-time engagement remains a particular struggle for many companies.

Trigger-based signals, like when someone moves, gets married, walks into a store or clicks on a specific product page, all need to be collected, analyzed, and pushed within an organization as quickly as possible in order for a marketer to provide an experience when it has the greatest influence.

Yet, this is an area where data moves very slowly across most organizations.

Also, there’s the creep factor to consider. For instance, 38 percent of U.S. shoppers surveyed by Periscope By McKinsey in 2019 said getting a message within seconds of undertaking a purchase or having conducted an online search made them uncomfortable.

Relevancy requires an artful and ethical balance of knowing how much data can I ingest? How quickly can I ingest it? And, what is the best way to use it? Having the right data strategy in place can create a competitive advantage for marketers.

5) Accountability

Privacy regulations, restrictions of third-party cookies, and limitations around the use of first-party data are impacting and potentially restricting how marketers collect, store, and utilize this valuable consumer data.

On the flip side of that coin, you have consumers who want complete transparency and control but also want a frictionless experience with the brands they love. This delicate balance of trust, transparency, and personalization is the new holy grail for marketers.

Access to consumer-level identity and intelligence is underpinned by the relationship a brand has with its consumer. A relationship built on transparency and trust will allow the consumer to provide more relevant signals about their journey, which will then lead to greater personalization.

The accountability of marketers and their organizations will also be a competitive advantage as further scrutiny is placed on data-driven marketing processes and tactics.

To achieve a win-win, marketers must make consumers comfortable sharing their data by developing a two-way conversation. This relationship provides clear reciprocity in value—like relevant product recommendations in exchange for volunteered insight about shopping preferences.

6) Customization

Your data strategy may differ wildly depending on the type of relationship you have with your customers, where your products and services can be acquired, and the number of systems and technology that exist between you and those customers.

For brands like retailers, healthcare providers, financial services, and auto manufacturers, gaining access to granular customer-centric data may be easy. But for brands operating in CPG, QSR, travel and hospitality, and media and entertainment, it may not be so simple.

Regardless of the amount of data you have at your fingertips, building a marketing strategy that is tailored to your specific business needs and KPIs is no easy task.

Yes, having more first-party customer data allows you to use what you know is working with your customers to do more of the same, but even data-rich marketers rely on off-the-shelf segmentation schemas and modeling tactics that they often set and forget.

The best advice I can give (based on the success of the brands we work with) is to always keep improving. Once a marketing strategy becomes dormant, you will lose the interest of your consumers.

Rather than applying a static set of criteria about targets, use statistical models to refine and optimize profiles of customers and look-alike audiences. These models can incorporate signals you’ve received from your own first-party data mixed with third-party and second-party data.

Ultimately, personalization requires continually enhancing identity profiles, abandoning a channel-based culture, reducing the hoops and hurdles data must travel through, establishing a trusting relationship with customers, and building your own segmentation and analytical models to refine your targeting.

That’s a lot of heavy lifting for sure, but with dedicated resources and the right partners, you can deliver the meaningful ad interactions your customers and prospects are craving.

Devon DeBlasio is a Product Marketing Director at Neustar®, Inc., a trusted, neutral provider of real-time information services and the leader in marketing intelligence, customer identity resolution, and unified measurement for Fortune 500 brands. He is dedicated to helping customer-centric marketers accurately identify their customers and prospects, create spectacular customer experiences, and measure the impact of their marketing across all channels, both online and offline. 

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