Industry Experts Serve Up a Personalization Playbook
At NRF (National Retail Federation) 2019, personalization was said to be one of the hottest topics that was talked about and that comes as no surprise to me. Gartner predicts that “by 2020, personalization software that can successfully analyze customer intent will increase digital businesses revenue by 15%.” Along with my thoughts on the three biggest personalization topics, I will also share the exclusive commentary from leading industry experts that we were fortunate enough to gather in 2018 on the three areas that are most important to consider when developing a personalization strategy.
Touchpoints, the Heartbeat of Personalization
To start, the touchpoint is really the heart of personalization. This is where you want the consumer to feel important throughout their experience. Consumers expect brands to understand their needs and expectations, regardless of the type of channel they're using. The way that I think of it is how would I want to interact with a particular brand in both an online and offline capacity? Was there something that I really liked or disliked? By leveraging your personal experiences and applying that to your personalization strategy is a win in my eyes and as you’ll read below, this and a few other things are good to keep in mind.
“As the number and size of screens – along with voice enabled devices – continues to explode, we expect iconic brands to take advantage of these tools to augment their flagship stores with new personalized experiences. Imagine an important customer from Japan traveling to Paris. She loses her luggage and needs a new dress for an evening gala. She uses her iPhone to find the right dress, reserves it, and heads to the local luxury flagship store to pick it up. The moment she enters the store, she is greeted by beautiful photos and videos featuring the dress on the Paris catwalk. Everything is in Japanese and all prices are in yen. Together, the manager and the customer can explore the entire collection through voice commands. - Sören Stamer, CEO and Co-Founder at CoreMedia
“Being able to understand the kind of buying behaviors and the way people think about information and the way people buy and use that to drive content and to drive offers and to drive promotions and then to drive that into the email channel and then personalize the email to bring people back into the site and kind of close the loop on all of our communications is incredibly powerful” - Tony Rems, CTO at Hero Digital
“With Acquia, and more importantly personalization in general, well that's where we can start to shine with our digital transformation. Wendy's is fun and a lot of our restaurants are like home for our regulars. You go in, you get to know the folks behind the counter, the crew members get to know you, you have that sense of they know what you want before you get there and when there's a new product, if they think you'll like it they'll suggest it to you. What we're building with Lift is, in essence, the ability to extend that to our digital ordering channels, so if you come in and you are the biggest Baconator fan or our salads really get you excited, you'll have an experience curated to your individual tastes. You'll find opportunities to explore the menu in new ways that aren't even possible necessarily in the analog side of our business so for us digital can really be distilled into surprising and delighting and giving our customers an experience keeps them coming back." - Michael Mancuso, Head of Digital Analytics at Wendy's
“When you think about what we’re personalizing and the kinds of applications that are being created today, they’re not just websites anymore, it’s rare that it’s just a website, people want self-service, everybody wants subscription revenue and recurring revenue so we create these self-service applications on top of just the websites." - Tony Rems, CTO at Hero Digital
Technology Supports the Cross-Channel Experience
Technology that makes personalization streamlined and accessible will win in the market. One of the hardest parts of good personalization is the sheer volume of work it is to orchestrate in real-time so decision-makers should look for which vendor makes their life easier with personalization rather than harder. For hotel chain Hilton, they found major success in their online/offline customer experience by creatively leveraging the customer experience at whatever point of the journey their customers are in. Below you’ll read more on how technology supports a cross-channel experience and thoughts on the ways it can have an effect on personalization.
"When companies are looking for new platforms, it is because they are looking to solve a need in their organizations and fill in experience gaps their customers may be having and that’s why packaging based on business needs is so critical. We appreciate being recognized for our focus on empowering the people who actually use our product.
By giving access to complex systems that are easy to use, we’re helping our customers realize some of the bigger trends such as artificial intelligence (AI), personalization, and the growth of engagement channels (such as voice) and IoT-enabled devices, all of which play a critical role in delivering a seamless customer experience. With the wrong technology, these trends can make an organization even more confused and disjointed.
A recent report found that the global business value derived from AI is expected to increase to $1.2 trillion this year (70 percent increase from last year) and that AI-derived business value in 2022 could be as high as $3.9 trillion. Episerver has implemented powerful artificial intelligence to back its three pre-packed solutions: Individualized Content, Experience-Driven Commerce and Intelligent Campaigns. Through AI, Episerver is also able to deliver personalization capabilities that enable client experiences to stand out and meet customer expectations. Shoppers are comfortable with personalization. In fact, 87 percent of online shoppers are okay with companies knowing more about them and state when a brand personalizes experiences, a quarter of shoppers are more likely to purchase from the brand again.”- James Norwood, CMO and EVP of Strategy at Episerver
“In order to build iconic personalized experiences, companies need to dynamically integrate content with various context sources and transactional commerce capabilities. The trend to headless commerce and micro-service architectures supports more flexibility but it also creates new challenges. Companies need to avoid redundant business logic if they want to create seamless multi-touchpoint experiences” - Sören Stamer, CEO and Co-Founder at CoreMedia
“One of the biggest customer pain points is the process of actually creating the content they have to deliver and if they want to leverage personalization they need to have just that much content in the first place to deliver.” - Ryan Donovan, Chief Technology Officer at Sitecore
The Power of Data
To personalize experiences, you need to understand your customers on a one-to-one level. This is where the power of data comes into play but it's also important to know that without data, there is no personalization. Think of it like this, how did the consumer come to my site and why? What device did they use? Without this and other types of data there’s no way to identify these types of activities. But don’t forget, good data also means quality data too.
As Laura Myers perfectly stated, “once organizations accept the terms and conditions so to speak on the collection and use of personal data, they can start to strategize how they’re going to leverage it to achieve their growth and revenue goals.” The experts below discuss more on the importance of data and how to harness the power of date along with personalization.
"In an era defined by endless choice and commoditization, the customer experience has emerged as an important differentiator for retailers and brands. In many cases, the experience no longer just supplements the products, but has become the product itself. In the past, companies operated in a reactive manner to customer needs but today, brands recognize that in order to maintain consumers, they must be proactive. This can be achieved by utilizing consumer data for personalization tactics.
By harnessing this data, companies are able to create meaningful touchpoints and connect with purpose. It is the brand’s responsibility to anticipate customer needs, goals, and wants. By following this framework, companies will be able to engage more effectively with customers. Giving people what they want, when they want, shapes the entire end-to-end experience. With the customer at the root of all decisions, businesses can leverage insights to improve the overall customer experience."- Kevin Cochrane, CMO at SAP
“One of the promises of digital marketing is that of being more measurable than marketing on traditional communications channels. You act and you can almost instantly get metrics. This is one of the reasons why digital marketing spending has been on an increasing trend over the past years. However, the challenge comes when aiming to use this data not just to track and understand performance, but optimize even as you work, in real time. Imagine having to launch a campaign and before you press ‘publish’, you get insights into how likely it is to perform and you are able to make decisions before action. We see some of our digitally mature customers advancing in this direction. This is one way of being data-driven. Another thing is the focus on customer data - bringing together more and more first-party and third-party customer data to enhance profiling, segmentation and personalization.” - Pascal Mangold, CEO at Magnolia
"The answer lies within consumer trust, which in today’s landscape serves as the ultimate currency. Consumers want personalized interactions that account for their past behavior and anticipate their future needs. But to execute on this level of personalization, companies must be trusted to compile customer data and use it appropriately. If a brand is able to prove that they are using data in a helpful capacity, they will incrementally gain customer trust and better personalize their engagements. In this process, the brand will win a customer for life and, with it, a powerful brand advocate." - Kevin Cochrane, CMO at SAP