A new era of personalization: The hyperconnected customer experience

We are entering a new year in martech where organizational metrics of success will increasingly be aligned with customer success metrics. In today’s age of dynamic digital disruption, consumers are becoming not just more connected, but hyperconnected.

The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has meant that more and more customers are becoming hyperconnected across multiple devices that can range from desktop to laptops, mobiles and smart devices people use on a daily basis: wearables like Fitbit, the Apple Watch, car navigation and entertainment, and even home appliances.

While this brings massive opportunity for marketers to communicate across all areas of the martech stack, it also brings with it challenges in communicating and connecting effectively across a fragmented customer experience.

By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, according to Frost & Sullivan. Hence, the biggest challenge martech companies and digital marketers (in general) now face is how to connect the dots with the way that their brand constantly communicates, engages and delights customers across multiple channels, formats and device types.

Success lies in creating personalized experiences and delivering them in an authentic manner — spanning marketing, sales and customer service — aimed at resonating deeply with customers so that they feel valued and appreciated.

Traditionally, personalization had been associated with email marketing and CRM (customer relationship management), where marketers messaged to customers what they thought they wanted. However, now strategies are changing as consumers tell us what they want — and how, where and when they want it. This applies to every form of marketing (search, social, content, email, display, digital) across the entire martech stack.

Below are some statistics to highlight this point and the importance of personalization:

  • By 2018 (here and now) over 50 percent of companies will redirect investments towards customer experience innovations. Source: Gartner
  • Eighty-one percent of consumers want brands to understand them better and know when and when not to approach them. Source: Accenture
  • Sixty percent of marketers struggle to personalize content in real time, yet 77 percent believe real-time personalization is crucial. Source: Adobe
  • Over 55 percent of marketers use a combination of data insights and customer feedback to make decisions on how to personalize content. Source: BrightEdge (Disclosure: BrightEdge is my employer)
  • Ninety-four percent of marketers are focusing on their data and analytics capabilities, personalization technologies and customer profile data management capabilities to deliver personalized customer experiences. Source: Forrester (commissioned by Janrain)

At the MarTech conference in San Francisco, Jason Heller of McKinsey described this new era of personalization as a battleground where decision-making must be integrated into the martech stack — and customer data platforms are central to that stack.

Source: Jason Heller, McKinsey, MarTech conference

Bridge the gap and connect the dots on customer experience

There are many ways organizations can bridge the gap between their perceptions of what customers want and the reality of what customers “actually” want.

Personalization and providing content that resonates, engages and delights customers — from the moment they search to the moment they buy to the moment they become valued customers and advocates — is the key. Below are three simple ways you can do this.

Focus: Customer

Don’t just think personas — think behavior and personas

Personalization goes beyond brand awareness, and organizations should think deeply about how they approach persona marketing. Segmentation is a good start, but it’s not enough.

Build a language of loyalty with your customers based on understanding individual personas, subpersonas and multipersonas. Experiment by creating new digital experiences (based on understanding behavior and intent) and test the dynamics and results of these campaigns. Test different marketing messages to different groups of customers and put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Focus: Technology

Leverage technology to help you understand your consumer — at the most granular level

The biggest challenges marketers face regarding personalization are gaining insights quickly enough, having enough data and having inaccurate data, according to data from Experian, which surveyed over 250 data management marketers.

The growth of AI, machine learning and deep learning technology addresses this challenge head-on. This can allow marketers to take personalization to a whole new level — using data as the voice of the customer — so you can match and tailor digital experiences to customer journeys.

Deep learning technology provides more personal and accurate data points, enabling more accurate personalization recommendations. This allows marketers to:

  • utilize insights and recommendations on industry trends, consumer behavior, and intent signals.
  • experiment with new personalized experiences — testing messages through the funnel.
  • ensure that content and messages reach the right customer at the right time in the right format and on the right channel.

Focus: Organization design

Make the experience model a central part of the org — drive bottom-line performance

With the knowledge and technology in place to provide more connected customer experiences, it’s vital that organizations structure themselves around the customer. Organization design is a key — yet often overlooked — component of building an agile organization.

Companies can no longer afford to look at their customers from siloed marketing, sales and customer success perspectives and will need to structure accordingly. Edelman Digital describes this process as experience planning that helps to build content and messages from the customer’s perspective.

Conclusion

Success in a new era of personalization requires martech organizations to plan, structure and align around the customer. The martech ecosystem has the right technology to do this, but perhaps not yet the right approach.

Building customer experience projects and agile teams — across all parts of the organization — will better help marketers align all communication programs and ultimately improve their customer experience and corresponding company performance. It’s the perfect win-win — if executed correctly.


About The Author

Andy Betts
Andy has over 15 years experience in formulating marketing, digital and content strategies for many of the world's leading brands, agencies and technology pioneers. Andy works closely with CEO and CMO thought leaders, executives and technology partners on strategic marketing, digital and content marketing strategies. He has also spends considerable time consulting, and travelling across the World, for many digital and content marketing technology startups -- working on research, event and publication projects. Andy has worked at the C-level with leading brands such as HP, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, HSBC, United Airlines, Adobe, Apple, American Express and Fidelity International. He has also consulted on digital marketing projects with many of the world’s leading agencies such as Publicis, Aegis, Starcom, Digitas, Zenith Optimedia, GroupM and WPP properties.