The saying ,“It’s not personal. It’s just business” is said to have first been muttered by an organized crime accountant in the 1930s. Yet, a growing number of today’s marketers have discovered the power of personalizing their messages to consumers on different omni-channels.
The Next Step
Similar to what author Jim Collins called his book back in 2001, good to great is the next step in personalization. Data and tech marketing agency Merkle surveyed 400 marketers and learned that 74% employ personalization across as many as six channels. So, what are the next best steps in personalization?
The study discovered that in spite of the recognition of personalization as a powerful tool, just slightly more than half the marketers polled believe there is consensus on each key performance indicator (KPI) among departments in their company.
Merkle also found that confusion abounds over who controls data. The responses were divided among marketing, IT and analytics departments.
Brands wishing to move forward face a challenge in breaking down silos and gathering the necessary departments together. A retreat or in-depth meeting to agree on goals, focus and direction as well as responsibility for each part of the action plan should be held. Regular updates and meetings need to follow.
Merkle identified eight areas from their study that they said would help marketers improve consumer experience. The first is identity, with a majority of those surveyed allocating 20% of their budgets for identity services.
Customer data is next. To get a complete view of the consumer, brands must take in both first and third person data. Calibration of customer experience can then be pulled using account information, customer profiles, and various interactions through different departments like sales, service, etc.
Past customer behavior can shed light on future outcomes through predictive modeling and journey analysis. Leveraging customers and identifying data to build models helps better understand them. Marketing tactics are always important. In their study, Merkle identified loyalty rewards as being vital.
Employing automated AI-powered decision engines to update content and consumer experiences in real time, across offline and online experiences, was another recommendation. This will help a brand move past rules-based updates to content.
More cities and states are instituting consumer privacy rules.
Companies must keep up to date on methodologies that will not only allow them to do their job, but also comply with changing regulations.
Merkle recommends tailoring customer experiences with the brand so they’re even more relevant to them. Capture and insert sentiment data into their records to better personalize their journey.
And as a partner to sentiment, Merkle’s final recommendation was for outgoing optimization as a way to improve tactics. They also cited testing as an important tool for this as well.
Merkle pointed out that in spite of our growing economy, about half of U.S. companies experienced flat to declining after-tax profits based on June 2017 data from Fortune magazine. It pointed out that direct to consumer companies, however, were booming because they put the consumer in control. It added that the need to identify and connect with consumers is vital because their priorities are accelerating.
In summary, Merkle said, “Few companies have really mastered the art of managing and automating customer experiences across the variety of brand interactions that result in a consistent, positive outcome.”
It cited research by CRM company Salesforce that 75% of consumers expect brands to anticipate their needs. They pointed to another study by Cone Communications reporting that 71% of consumers expect brands to inspire them as further evidence.