As I mar­vel on a reg­u­lar basis at how far mod­ern tech­nol­ogy has come, my mind wan­ders back to scenes from Steven Spielberg’s futur­is­tic thriller Minor­ity Report.  I remem­ber sit­ting in the the­ater and chuck­ling at how there was no pos­si­ble way that tech­nol­ogy would become so human inter­ac­tive, and no pos­si­bil­ity that con­tent and media could, or would, be allowed to adapt so per­son­ally to the indi­vid­ual.  This doubt is of course sup­ported by many other futur­is­tic films that boasted hov­er­craft and other sky-flying tech­nol­ogy in com­mon use, and were set in years that have come and gone with no trace of this technology.

How­ever, as I watch Minor­ity Report again, 12 years after its 2002 release, I find that a lot of the touch­screen and mobile tech­nol­ogy por­trayed in that film eerily fore­cast a lot of the capa­bil­i­ties present in our mod­ern smart­phones and tablets. Given that this is a per­son­al­iza­tion blog, I am nat­u­rally headed to the scene where Tom Cruise walks through a mar­ket­place and receives per­son­al­ized rel­e­vant adver­tis­ing as he passes dif­fer­ent store­fronts.  Of course, because it’s a thriller, and Spiel­berg rel­ishes in push­ing the enve­lope, the per­son­al­iza­tion is hyper­bolic in that it is call­ing Tom’s char­ac­ter by name and directly solic­it­ing a response from him.  Nowa­days, with per­son­al­iza­tion in pop­u­lar prac­tice within the dig­i­tal sphere, we know that it requires a sub­tle touch. One in which rel­e­vant con­tent is being adapted sub­tly to meet the explicit or implicit pref­er­ences shared and cap­tured by a visitor’s anony­mous profile.

How­ever, this Minor­ity Report–style dig­i­tal acqui­si­tion and adver­tis­ing in the mar­ket­place is in itself not far off from Spielberg’s vision. We have many cus­tomers, espe­cially in the retail, travel, and finan­cial ser­vices indus­try (FSI) spaces, who are embrac­ing mobile location-targeting and iBea­con tech­nol­ogy. These tech­nolo­gies are avail­able with our Adobe Mobile Ser­vices offer­ing (included in Adobe Tar­get Solu­tion) and can be used to tar­get mobile offers based on a store that a cus­tomer might be in close prox­im­ity to, or by offer­ing a dis­count related to a prod­uct cat­e­gory the cus­tomer might be brows­ing on the shelves.  It’s becom­ing much more com­mon­place for cus­tomers to com­par­i­son shop in a store with their smart­phones or tablets, pro­vid­ing a good oppor­tu­nity to use these new types of tar­get­ing.  There’s also the con­nec­tion of dig­i­tal screens and appli­ca­tions within stores, at air­port dig­i­tal kiosks, or even in the screen on the back of a taxi or air­line seat, that can be sub­tly per­son­al­ized to meet the needs and pref­er­ences of the cus­tomer for greater cus­tomer engage­ment, con­ver­sion, sat­is­fac­tion, and brand loyalty.

As far as we’ve come with dig­i­tal per­son­al­iza­tion across mul­ti­ple chan­nels and touch points, one tra­di­tional chan­nel that has per­sisted and main­tained its effec­tive­ness over the years in terms of acqui­si­tion is email.  Yet even with the long-term con­sis­tent suc­cess of email mar­ket­ing, I’m sur­prised at how lit­tle test­ing, opti­miza­tion, or opti­mal per­son­al­iza­tion I see com­ing from this vital but often mis­used oppor­tu­nity for cus­tomer engage­ment.  Too often we receive “per­son­al­ized” emails that are basic tar­geted mass mail­ings based on a cat­e­gory pref­er­ence and clearly have not been opti­mized or even per­son­al­ized accord­ing to any sort of pro­file data.

Think about it: you have my email, so you know who I am. Because I have at least authen­ti­cated or con­nected my pro­file data with this email, you have a lot of infor­ma­tion about me, such as where I’m from; how I came to your web­site; what I was search­ing for; what I looked at, book­marked, added to my cart, or pur­chased; what I signed up for; etc.  This pro­file data might even con­nect to a cus­tomer pro­file in my cus­tomer rela­tion­ship man­age­ment (CRM) or other data­bases that I can cap­i­tal­ize on within Adobe Tar­get for opti­mized per­son­al­iza­tion within email cam­paigns. And yet, even with all of this infor­ma­tion, basic tar­get­ing and poten­tially mir­ror­ing of this mar­ket­ing mes­sage on a land­ing page is where per­son­al­iza­tion ends.

Test­ing in email, for the most part, is nonex­is­tent, and most point prod­ucts that claim they do it only truly offer tar­geted con­tent sent to an email ser­vice provider (ESP).This is because point prod­ucts have not invested in devel­op­ing the imple­men­ta­tion flex­i­bil­ity required for swap­ping con­tent or other ele­ments within an email tem­plate, the abil­ity to prop­erly inte­grate with the lead­ing ESP providers, or the abil­ity to real-time tar­get the best-performing ver­sion of con­tent to unopened emails.

Adobe Tar­get, with its server-side archi­tec­ture, true real-time mar­keter con­trol, and flex­i­ble imple­men­ta­tion, allows our cus­tomers to test and dynam­i­cally tar­get and per­son­al­ize email cam­paigns in real time. It lets them con­nect these tests to tests on the home and land­ing pages that can be tar­geted in real time based on per­for­mance.   If the test deter­mines that one ver­sion of con­tent is best to tar­get a cer­tain seg­ment of the email pop­u­la­tion within the remain­ing unopened emails, it can be changed in real time to cap­i­tal­ize on the best pos­si­ble out­come and rev­enue lift.

Val­ues can also be set in the email to pull Mr. Cruise’s name dynam­i­cally into the tem­plate, if Tom hap­pens to be your cus­tomer, along with prod­uct images, invest­ments, or other con­tent he’s engaged with or has con­sumed.  Because of our uni­fied solu­tion imple­men­ta­tion, we have cus­tomers who are also test­ing rec­om­men­da­tions and the algo­rithms dri­ving them within email cam­paigns as well. This is super pow­er­ful in terms of acqui­si­tion email cam­paigns and re-engaging cus­tomers post­pur­chase or post-cart aban­don­ment and improv­ing cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion by offer­ing rel­e­vant addi­tional ser­vices or cross-sell oppor­tu­ni­ties.  All of this is built and exe­cuted within the Tar­get solution.

It thrilled me to learn that email cam­paigns were not over­looked with the Adobe Tar­get solu­tion when I was a cus­tomer, as it remains one of the most pro­duc­tive yet most often over­looked chan­nels in terms of per­son­al­iza­tion, cus­tomer acqui­si­tion, and ulti­mate con­ver­sion.  I’m con­fi­dent that if Spiel­berg had included the per­son­al­ized email scene con­nected to an opti­mized per­son­al­ized land­ing page within Minor­ity Report, as I would have scripted it, the movie per­haps would have been titled Major­ity Report.