Personalisation: Five key enablers of successIan Thomas
According to Gartner, 80 percent of marketers will abandon personalisation by 2025. This is a stark statistic that flies in the face of the weight of opinion massing behind personalised customer experience as the de facto battle ground for brands now and in the immediate future.
Despite this, the evidence for the advantage of focusing efforts on personalisation is overwhelming:
- Customer Experience will soon overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator’ - Forrester, 2018
- ‘Personalisation can deliver 3X revenue growth against assets’ - BCG 2019
- McKinsey estimates a 10% to 30% lift for those companies who make the effort to get to know their customers better
- Even the doomsayers of personalisation themselves, Gartner, predict that organisations that have fully invested in all types of personalisation will outsell companies that have not by 20%
So, why are Gartner putting a downer on personalisation efforts?
Simply put, it’s hard. At its most basic level, personalisation requires a finely balanced blend of data, marketing technology, and user experience (UX). Brands often adopt an inside-out approach to personalisation, setting up initiatives such as segmenting product offers, customising homepage messages, and digitising the customer journey. In many cases, they fail to consider the reason for having pursued personalisation in the first place - to deliver an experience that provides value to an individual customer.
True personalisation is grounded in developing a deep understanding of each customer’s unique needs and orchestrating a set of tailored experiences across digital and human channels. In practical terms, personalisation means delivering the right individual experience through the right channel at the right time. This stretches across the customer journey, from awareness to usage to loyalty and advocacy and back again as the customer engages with a brand over a lifetime.
Read next: Why ‘connectedness’ is vital to achieve personalisation and a single view of the customer
Whilst this can often take a radical shift in a company’s culture and operating model, there are five key enablers that are common across successful personalisation initiatives:
Everything starts with data. From classic customer data, identity, geodemographic, engagement, customer service, voice of the customer, attitudinal & behavioural, through to market research and share of wallet to product usage, customer data is being created throughout the customer’s experience with a brand. If this isn’t already available directly from customer engagement (first- or even zero-party data), then second- and third-party data and sophisticated modelling techniques step in to create the picture of who the customer is – the oft-cited customer 360.
But it doesn’t stop there. Advancements in technology (including the MarTech buzzword of the 2020s - the CDP) allows further data sources to enhance a brand’s understanding of the customer. In other words, it allows companies to create what you could call tentatively a 720 view of the customer. As no brand operates in a vacuum and no customer has only one brand in their life, the ability to build up an understanding of the context of a customer’s interaction with a brand is a fundamental building block for success in delivering personalisation initiatives.
2. Actionable insight
Time and time again, we see brands spending so much time and effort building a SCV (Single Customer View) that they forget to address where data is actually making a real difference. They fail to consider the key moments of truth across the customer journey to make a difference to that customer at that particular time – missing the opportunity to provide real value to that individual.
It is key to remember that what the insight enables is what makes a difference to the customer. The two-way data flows implied by a 720 view is about enabling success (and failures) to be monitored, and this can be used to constantly improve performance - therefore supercharging Next Best Action, churn prediction, cross-sell propensity etc. If customer-facing teams have access to this insight, they can make quick reactions to customer behaviour. Even better still, AI or machine learning can be used to automate changes to enable continuous improvement. Insight is the fuel for this test and learn process.
Content is how the individual experiences the brands personalisation efforts. This can take many forms, including text, imagery, videos, and sounds (sometimes referred to as the visualisation layer). With the average customer being exposed to thousands of marketing messages per day (up to ten thousand by some estimates), the ability to create and serve personalised content at scale and speed is fundamental to success in any personalisation initiative.
A content strategy and a modular, dynamic content creation capability need to be in place to allow content to keep pace with data and fully execute personalisation. Data and content must work in unison to provide a coherent and effective individual interaction and ensure that this is true across many multiple customer experiences.
Simply put, it doesn’t matter how advanced your data analytics is, how well defined the customer journey is, or how integrated the tech stack is. If you can only serve a picture of a cat to a dog lover, little benefit is achieved.
4. Marketing technology (MarTech)
Whilst personalisation is not solved alone by MarTech, a customer-focused MarTech stack is a key enabler for personalisation. If data is the fuel, then technology is the plumbing. Rather than taking the time to review the 8,000+ MarTech apps available here, we would like to take a minute to describe what we at Credera call ‘MarTech enablement’. This is the process of bringing marketing, business operations, and technology together to create the team, define the strategy, identify, implement, and integrate the tools, and execute the strategy that enables an organisation to engage most effectively with their customer. At Credera, we have a MarTech enablement framework that helps our clients create the perfect MarTech stack to drive personalisation.
An effective MarTech stack has the following minimum capabilities to enable successful personalisation:
- Customer identification and unification (match, merge, dedupe)
- Audience analysis and insight
- Decisioning/ customer journey flow
- Consent management
- Contact and response history data
- Activation and execution
- Post campaign analysis
- Campaign performance
Last, and by no means least, is organisational structure and its partner in crime, organisational culture.
To succeed at personalisation means to put the customer at the heart of the business. It means ripping up traditional product organisation structures where tactical KPIs rule. It means adopting the best parts of Agile methodologies birthed and perfected in the IT space to build cross-functional teams and point them at delivering exceptional personalised experiences at moments of truth in the customer journey. It means equipping these teams with the right technology, the right processes, and the right data. Crucially, it means measuring the success of these teams through customer-centric metrics that ladder up to overarching business objectives. If everyone has skin in the game, everyone wins - customer, the business, and its employees included. A holy trinity bound forever in the pursuit of exceptional personalised experiences.
So, there we have it. The five key enablers needed to successfully execute and benefit from personalisation.
To continue the discussion and learn how Credera can help enhance these five key capabilities for your organisation, please contact us at email@example.com.
Podcast: The barriers and opportunities to creating a single view of the customer - Part 1
Podcast: The barriers and opportunities to creating a single view of the customer - Part 2
Using MarTech to make the most of FCA-driven insurance sector changes
Marketing Analytics Platform (MAP) powered by OPMG Part 1: Activating insights from your customer data
Marketing Analytics Platform (MAP) powered by OPMG Part 2: Unlocking customer insights with a modern marketing data platform