Digital Essays 2020: Is it personalisation or individualisation? By Reprise’s Stuart Mackay

Companies that don’t invest in technology to get closer to their customers will run into trouble, writes Reprise’s Stuart Mackay.

By Stuart Mackay, general manager, Reprise.

If you don’t know me by now, you will never, never, never know me,” aren’t just lyrics in a song.

Brands are still failing to achieve what feels like an absolute basic requirement of the digital age by not providing personalised customer experiences. The ability to make customer experiences as relevant to the individual as possible still seems like fiction. If a brand knows my purchase history, behaviours, preferences and intent, why can’t it simply interact with me on a personal level?

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The personalisation road-block

One of the main reasons is that it is simply not a priority for organisations to invest in the resources or technologies that have the ability to enrich a customer’s experience and convert that experience into sales. Crazy, right? Unfortunately, 74 per cent of market leaders that took part in a recent Forbes survey indicated that less than 10 per cent of their marketing budgets are dedicated to personalisation. Hence the size and scale of the issue that we continue to face.

Another challenge resides around bringing data in from different silos and making sense of it in order to be able to address customers on a consistent, one-on-one basis. The cleansing of this data becomes absolutely crucial to ensure its accuracy and quality. However, most organisations lack the analytical skills and technology to be able to deal with the complexity of this challenge.

Personalisation is not just an exercise that is carried out by a single function within an organisation; it is a brand-wide initiative that needs to be driven from the top down. It needs the full support and investment of the leadership team, given what is at stake if personalisation at scale is not achieved in the near future. Given that data is spread across so many touchpoints within a business, it is crucial to develop an omnichannel approach to data collection to avoid the silo effect of departments not collaborating. After all, treating data in a siloed way will only lead to a limited view of the customer’s intent.

Aimee Irwin, vice-president of strategy at Experion, says: “People are using many different devices as touchpoints. To really get that complete view of the customer, you need to be able to connect all those touchpoints.”

The pathway to personalisation…

There is no better motivation than the death of the third-party cookie to spur an organisation into seeing the need to develop a first-party data strategy. Auditing and taking the time out to develop this strategy will allow an organisation to map out exactly how to achieve personalisation for its consumers. Whether it’s through technology, AI, website and traffic, content and performance, or personas and audience behaviours, having this understanding early will define how you are going to reach the customer in the best way across any channel.

Technology is always going to play a key part in determining an organisation’s success on the personalisation battlefront, whether that is introducing artificial intelligence and machine learning to personalise your customer interactions at scale, or through the deployment of a customer data platform (CDP), customer relationship management (CRM) system or marketing automation platform. Either way, you shouldn’t shy away from any of the aforementioned, given they will be key to your success.

Tealium’s Matthew Berger says that through the introduction of a CDP you are able to deliver the following benefits:

1. Deliver a single view of the customer. CDPs unify first- and third-party data sources to form a comprehensive 360-degree view of your customer across devices and channels, making that data available to your other tech and across the business.

2. Affect marketing and customer experience. Customers are using more channels and devices than ever before while demanding exceptional and relevant experiences. With a comprehensive set of customer data, CDPs fuel multi- and cross-channel marketing with comprehensive trusted data. 

3. Tear down the data silos. The value of customer data extends across a business. CDPs give teams the ability to access and leverage customer data across departments accurately and effectively.

4. Put the customer at the centre. In order to enact customer-centred marketing, you must know your customers. CDPs equip you to manage your customer relationships and market with your audience in mind.

5. Enable operational efficiency and business agility. CDPs let businesses build and connect tech stacks that adapt to ever-changing consumer behaviour with turnkey integrations, saving hours of integration. Audiences and business rules are set up centrally and applied across technologies, saving huge amounts of time and money.

Personalisation is an expectation that all consumers are starting to have when interacting with brands. This has been, and continues to be, highly influenced by the experiences provided by GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon).

If it is not addressed as a priority, challenger and digital-first businesses will lure your consumers away, given they are able to provide an immediate and more personalised customer experience. Develop strategies for both first-party and third-party data sources, invest in technology and either upskill your workforce to be able to deal with the challenge at hand or solicit the help of a partner who can support you on your journey.

McKinsey and Company says: “The true prize…
is delivering experiences that are world-class to
the consumer and deliver value to the business. Personalisation is a crucial weapon in the marketer’s arsenal to achieve that goal.”