There’s no excuse for not integrating some basic level of targeting across your digital platforms. At the very least, you’ve got the customer’s geolocation address—it’s been snowing like crazy on the East Coast, so why not serve up a discount on snow boots? Or perhaps your customer authenticated already, so you know the person’s name, purchase history, and maybe some other self-reported preference information. So give your customer a hearty—and precise—hello.
Customers are more demanding than ever when it comes to relevance, recognition, and personalization. Blame—and thank—Amazon, who changed the game forever, serving up not only a personalized greeting but smart, real-time recommendations based on purchases, current cart contents, and the page you’re browsing. So maybe you can’t take it quite that far, but one-off targeting efforts—the “Hello, Kevin!” or the discrete references to or alignments with my West Coast home base—will only take you so far. It’s essential that organizations look to always-on optimization and personalization to take their brands, their marketing efforts, their customer engagement, and their resulting ROI to the next level. We’re in the relationship era of digital marketing, and it’s essential that brands whole-heartedly jump in.
This relationship era, compounded by the demand for wholly personal content and product alignment and delivery, is so critical right now that I’ve devoted an in-depth session to it at Adobe Summit 2014. The breakout, “Transform Your Digital Strategy through Always-On Optimization,” will feature one of the leaders in personalization, Sai Koppaka, the Divisional Vice President of Customer Analytics and Optimization for Sears. Without giving away too much, this session will definitely be eye-opening for attendees. All too often, I hear that an organization can’t implement an always-on optimization strategy because it doesn’t have the groundwork laid to capture and leverage the essential data. The takeaway for the session, I hope, is that you absolutely can. As digital marketers and stakeholders, you do, in fact, have that information—and, moreover, you certainly aren’t alone in the struggle to make that data work harder when it comes to personalization and content alignment.
But back to personalization and your business. Recognizing your customer is essential in this increasingly competitive digital landscape. Three in five consumers feel more positively about a brand when marketing messages are personalized. They want to be addressed as unique individuals, and expect relevance to be at the forefront of their online shopping and content-consumption experiences. And they’ll reward you handsomely if you can meet those demands. More than half of consumers indicated they’re more likely to buy when a brand effectively personalizes digital communications. That number increases to 65 percent for the all-important 18–34 year old segment.
Although one-off targeting typically taps into a simple personalization solution based on expressed or inferred information—they log in and you’ve got their name, you know their IP address, or you’re adjusting real-time recommendations and add-ons to cart contents—by combining testing, targeting, and content management technologies, you can effectively and efficiently power continuous optimization and personalization across your digital platforms. That means not just greeting me at the door, but walking me through the entire store, and pointing out what you know I’ll love and maybe even getting it down from the shelf for me. It’s something Adobe Target and Adobe Experience Manager have been doing, alone and in tandem, with much success across virtually every industry. And it’s something digital marketers shouldn’t be afraid to implement within their own organizations. Once developed, those unique profiles will have a place—likely in the driver’s seat—in your marketing and sales plans, from acquisition to loyalty, and across every campaign you roll out.
I like to encourage our partners to think about themselves as customers. It’s a good exercise—think about yourself. You buy things. You search for content and products online. You get promotional emails and do or don’t click through. You forward information and recommendations to friends. When you get a message that is spot-on for you—a favorite restaurant, a topical article, a discount for something you’ve been itching to buy—how do you feel? There’s a jolt, right? I know when I get something that’s exactly right, I can’t wait to click through, check it out, read it, or even buy it. And I’ll likely stop what I’m doing to convert. What’s more, that site, brand, or company usually rises right to the top of my list. They clearly value me, they clearly understand me, and they clearly get it. This is a brand for me.
The flip side of that? A recommendation, email, or social call-out that’s so far gone or, worse, borderline offensive. I love the examples of Facebook advertising tied to life events—you had a baby, so you’re entering an era of diaper discounts (score!) and diet pills (stop judging me, Facebook). Or my status changes to “engaged” and it’s suit rentals (OK!) and adult acne treatments (do you see my pictures?!). Needless to say, it’s the opposite impact.
With just seconds to make that critical first impression—or take an existing customer from browsing to buying—making that immediate, positive connection is essential. Say hi (by name) and get to it—fast. We’ll cover that and lots more at the Summit session.
Although I hope to see you at Summit keep in mind that, whether or not you’re attending, now’s the time to get started on your own always-on personalization and optimization efforts. There’s no doubt where the industry is going in 2014 and beyond—one-fifth of marketers agree that customer experience is the single most exciting opportunity this year, with targeting and personalization identified as the top priority, beating out areas like conversion rate optimization and social media engagement. What’s more, with the proliferation of the Internet of Things and all of the implications associated, personalization and optimization are just going to get bigger, better, and more universal. We’ll know more and consumers will expect us to deliver more—and the thought leaders and revolutionaries within the industry will no doubt find incredibly innovative ways to meet those demands and make the user experience even more personal than it is right now.