Julie Brown, Senior Director of Solution Marketing at SAP Customer Experience, shared her thoughts on the use of personalization and contextual marketing during her presentation at the 2018 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum in Dallas on October 23. In her presentation, “Driving Personalization Through Contextual Marketing,” Brown offered insights to help marketers create a customer experience strategy that is aligned with their corporate objectives to ensure successful customer engagement.
Personalization is a top priority for marketers around the world. However, recent research indicates there is a disconnect between marketers’ desire to provide personalized customer experiences and their ability to achieve their personalization goals.
Oftentimes, marketers collect consumer data from a wide range of sources. This information offers value, as it enables marketers to learn about consumers and find innovative ways to connect with them. Conversely, in some instances, low-quality consumer data causes marketers to miss out on opportunities to obtain actionable customer insights.
“[Most] marketers don’t have sufficient insights and data to have effective personalization,” Brown pointed out. “When you don’t have the right customer data, your marketing is going to be irrelevant.”
Additionally, the sheer volume of structured and unstructured data available to marketers can be overwhelming. If marketers fail to differentiate pertinent data from irrelevant information, they likely will struggle to understand a brand’s target audience.
“Data is everywhere, in all of these siloed systems. Not only are our departments siloed, but our systems are siloed as well,” Brown said. “When you have something like this, it’s very difficult or almost impossible to consolidate all of your data and get a clear picture of your customer.”
To provide personalized customer experiences, marketers must strive to deliver seamless experiences across all channels, at all times.
Merely providing consumers with personalized experiences on a single channel is insufficient. Instead, marketers must allocate time and resources to deliver consistent and personalized experiences across all channels. Marketers then must analyze these experiences regularly and continue to explore ways to surpass consumers’ expectations.
“You might have personalization within an individual channel … but a lot of times, we don’t have visibility across all of our channels,” Brown indicated.
A clear-cut definition of personalization can make a world of difference for marketers, too.
In the past, marketers often deployed technologies to drive personalization across a broad array of customer segments. But today’s marketers must prioritize individualized experiences to connect with consumers on a one-to-one basis.
“Personalization has changed and evolved. Now, true personalization is really at an individual level, not a segment-based level,” Brown stated.
Analyzing customer behaviors in real-time empowers marketers with actionable insights. If marketers have the ability to track customer behaviors as they shop for products, for instance, they can provide personalized offers. As a result, these marketers can leverage customer data in real-time to deliver personalized experiences, as well as foster unprecedented consumer engagement.
“We want to catch the customer in the moment, and we want to use real-time context to deliver the best customer experience,” Brown noted.
Marketers must deploy systems and processes so they can retrieve myriad consumer data in real-time. If marketers implement these systems and processes properly, they can learn customer intent. Best of all, these marketers will be better equipped than ever before to understand how a consumer engages with a brand and can tailor the brand’s customer interactions accordingly.
“You want to combine implicit and explicit [customer data] to get historical information about a customer … so you can learn about customer intent,” Brown said.
Many data collection and analysis technologies are available, yet not all of these technologies enable marketers to deliver personalized customer experiences. Thus, marketers must find technologies so they can monitor customer activities in real-time. They also must leverage technologies that allow them to quickly update a brand’s customer engagement strategies as needed.
“You really want a central view of the customer,” Brown indicated. “You also want to be able to centrally manage and deliver individualized [customer] experiences … and you want to be able to proactively optimize both your online and offline processes. ”
Delivering personalized customer experiences may prove to be a long, arduous process, regardless of the time and resources at a brand’s disposal. If marketers can achieve their personalization goals, they could help a brand stand out from the competition.
Personalized customer experiences are difference-makers for brands of all sizes and across all industries. They allow a brand to engage with its target audience and provide consumers with timely, relevant and accurate information in real-time. Furthermore, personalized customer experiences enable a brand to lay the groundwork for long-lasting customer partnerships.
“With personalized marketing, if it is done right, it’s not just going to look like marketing,” Brown noted. “Your customer is going to truly experience your brand in the way you want.”