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Personalization at scale — the quest for the holy grail

Ashish Mamania
Ashish Mamania

In the era of instant gratification, fickle consumers, and 24/7 digital content and social media consumption across a variety of touch points — customers have many choices and not a lot of time to make a decision. These factors force businesses to rethink how they are engaging their customers to clearly deliver their brand proposition and message amidst a constant stream of information.

Personalization — or having timely, relevant conversations with customers rather than a one-way monologue — has become standard in this digital world. Very few are disputing the benefits of personalization. Even B2B companies who historically have been resistant to embracing it are beginning to acknowledge the changing customer landscape driven by the fact that most of the decision makers and buyers are now digitally native.

So why haven’t companies been able to deliver on personalization at scale? Some organizations are struggling to provide even the most basic capabilities while some can do it well in some channels (like email, web, and others) for some customers (in their known, target audiences). Doing this at scale — for everyone, on every channel, every time — has become the holy grail of consumer engagement. Below we list some of the barriers that are getting in the way.

Lack of a customer-centric strategy

While everybody understands the concept of personalization, we find that most organizations struggle to build a strategy that scales this to all customers on all touchpoints. Often the strategy is incomplete and doesn’t cover all critical aspects of personalization including:

  • An identity strategy that will recognize known and unknown users on owned, earned, and paid channels
  • An audience strategy that groups customers with similar behaviors and needs into segments
  • A customer experience vision that covers the customer journey, identifies signals and opportunities in the moments that matter, and that creates multiple opportunities to deliver one-to-one personalization.

Legacy or disconnected systems

As devices and channels have proliferated, the technology supporting these has also grown exponentially. Most organizations have a complex set of customer-facing marketing and sales-centric platforms that are not all integrated. This is often exacerbated by mergers and acquisitions, a lack of a well-defined enterprise technology strategy, and technology governance that introduces redundancies in technology and capability.

Fragmented data and inaccurate insights

Most organizations are now collecting vast amounts of data about individuals interacting with their brand. However, most of this data is locked into the systems that collect it, so trying to convert customer data into meaningful information and actionable insights is an ongoing challenge. Too often data is stale, and insights are based on historical behavior that may no longer be relevant — even for organizations that have made progress consolidating this data into data lakes. Collecting and using real-time signals to infer or anticipate customer needs is a key capability needed to deliver personalization at scale.

Siloed organizational structures

We find that most organizational structures are primarily product- and channel-centric. While this organizational orientation works from a business operations perspective, it often results in multiple teams independently targeting the same customer and thereby inundating them with multiple communications or worse, giving them inconsistent or conflicting messages. A clear customer-centric strategy, with teams focused on journey-based or segment-based communications, can solve these silos. But only if employees are incentivized to deliver against customer-centric KPIs as well as product-centric KPIs.

Where are you in your personalization journey? Are you providing customer experiences and messaging that is tailored to their needs at that moment in time? Are you doing it for all customer touchpoints across marketing, sales and service? If not, what’s stopping you?

The reality is that delivering personalization at scale is hard. It is one of the most pressing challenges that our Customer Engagement Solution solves so that we can truly deliver transformative results for our clients. Adobe products fill some of the key technology and data capabilities required, but solving it also requires a service partner that provides a holistic approach across people, process, experience and technology.

At Publicis Sapient, our connected SPEED (Strategy, Product, Engineering, Experience and Data) capabilities help our clients realize and maximize their investments in Adobe products to deliver transformative outcomes through personalization.

Find out more about the clients we have helped and learn more about how your businesses can deliver personalization at scale.

Ashish Mamania
Ashish Mamania
Vice President of Marketing Technology