Personalization: how brands should position themselves for future success

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Anne Greenberg, senior consultant for brand and content at Frog, part of Capgemini Invent, explains the power of personalization. She dives into the evolution of digital consumption and future implications of personalization, along with the steps needed to create a successful approach.

In the new digital era, competing for customers and keeping their attention has become the million-dollar question for marketers. It’s no surprise that in the post-Covid-19 world, there’s been a massive shift to digital consumption. According to Warc, Covid-19 caused digital consumption to rise by over 30%.

So how are brands reacting to this shift? Many are focusing on e-commerce and digital media, but the winning brands are also focusing on personalization to compete and win customers’ attention.

Personalization – what does that even mean now?

In digital marketing, personalization is the ability to deliver more relevant and tailored messages to your customers. This is based on a customer’s purchase history, demographics and browsing behavior, and can be deployed across a brand’s individual site or through offsite digital channels.

The benefits of personalization can transform a business. If done correctly, it can drive customer attention, retention, enhanced loyalty and incremental sales.

If personalization is so fantastic, why aren’t more brands doing it?

According to Forrester, 89% of digital businesses are investing in personalization including Coca-Cola, Fabletics, Netflix, Sephora, USAA and Wells Fargo. However, many still struggle to understand their customers, gather customer data and deliver contextually relevant and value-adding experiences.

Why is it so hard to implement?

In a world full of mass amounts of data across many sources and channels, it can be challenging to store and match this information into one customer view to deliver a personalized message. According to a recent study from Capgemini, only 45% of marketers say they have a customer data platform that provides a unified and single view of customers.

The other challenge that many brands face is the lack of relevant skills and internal experts to properly manage personalization efforts. In the same study, only 44% of marketers say they have an adequate supply of skills in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, or data analytics and data science.

What steps should be taken for personalization going into 2022?

Step 1. Collection

When it comes to a brand’s owned data, ensuring they have the proper tech stack in place is key. Tech providers such as Google, Adobe and Salesforce can help brands implement a personalized approach through collecting, storing, analyzing, testing and measuring their data.

Collecting data from a customer online allows a brand to understand their browsing and purchase behaviors, as well as what’s driving them to the site. If a subscription or a membership is offered, brands can also receive information such as demographic details and contact details. This data can allow a brand to have a one-to-one conversation with their customers or deliver a message to a wider group.

Step 2. Testing

The tech provider should also allow the brand to test the types of messages they want to share with their customers to understand what’s driving the most engagement. That’s why selecting a partner that provides A/B testing is important to consider.

When considering A/B testing, brands should identify their hypotheses and goals before the tool is implemented or new features are installed. Tests can range across banners, titles, colors, creatives and call-to-actions (CTAs) onsite and through paid media. For email and SMS, tests can be undertaken across the sender, title or content.

Once the tests are in place, it is important to measure if the tests were successful or not. KPIs should be identified, and tech providers should measure the results of the test. Implementing tests allows brands to drive a more effective personalization strategy based on the learnings gathered.

Step 3. People

Implementing the proper data tech provider and setting up the tools for testing is one part of the solution to enable proper personalization. Brands should also invest in their people and ensure that they have the right internal experts with relevant skills needed to properly manage personalization efforts.

While brands often partner with third parties such as external data providers and media agencies, under half (46%) work with marketing technology firms and 24% say they will bring that capability in-house within the next two to three years. Hiring third parties to support the personalization stream can be a good solution, but investing in the right tools and the right people will drive a successful personalization strategy and activation for future years to come.

Personalization is ever-evolving

The above is merely a high-level solution to a continuously complex journey. However, the steps outlined are the first elements to consider when setting up a personalization approach. Moving beyond that, brands must continuously evolve their personalization strategy based on changes to the digital landscape and customer behaviors. This can be achieved through a continuous optimization test and learn loop that uses customer data, analytics and insights to improve digital interactions and experiences interactively.

The bottom-line impact is worth the investment. Marketers have reported that personalization efforts can boost revenues by up to 15% and reduce customer acquisition costs by up to 50%. Additional stats from Capgemini around the benefits of data to drive marketing initiatives are also included in its latest report aimed at the chief marketing officer here.