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Why does real-time personalization matter?

Thanks to mobile phones, social networks, and e-commerce platforms, today’s consumers have more choices at their fingertips than ever before. Simultaneously, the flood of digital offers, blog posts and ads has made it even more challenging for companies to stay relevant, and truly engage with their consumers. By applying real-time marketing personalization, firms can meet the critical need to be reactive to the changing landscape, and stay competitive in a growing digital market.

 

In fact, in a recent Adobe survey of 1,668 US enterprise decision makers, which focussed on their customer experience (CX) maturity and business performance, the vital importance of CX for business was revealed: 

 

  • Organizations that reported being “very advanced” in their CX were found to be over 3.5 times more likely to have exceeded their top 2018 business goal. 
  • CX was identified as the main competitive differentiator for businesses over the next five years. 
  • Over half of the organizations surveyed are already using, or planning to invest in, AI to help them leverage data to deliver real-time personalized experiences. 

 

Today’s enterprises are no longer competing based on their products or pricing, but instead on how successfully they can deliver exceptional customer experiences. Even the most compelling story or content will only trigger customer action at the correct moment. Therefore, businesses have a real opportunity in front of them to drive customer engagement by embracing the future of real-time personalization. 

How can businesses implement unique journeys for every customer?

When it comes to marketing transformation, there are three key elements to bear in mind. The exponential growth of computational power (Moore’s Law), bandwidth (Gilder’s Law) and storage capacity (Kryder’s Law). These have led to the evolution and diversification of potential touchpoints at which to interact with your customer. 

 

However, the biggest challenge for firms is understanding consumer behavior. Buyer journeys are far from linear. In fact, they can be seen as a kind of maze: constantly changing technologies, such as voice recognition, are continuously affecting consumer habits. This means traditional customer journey mapping is no longer useful, so how can companies effectively make real-time engagement possible using personalized content? 

 

The core idea here is defining what a customer needs, and when they need it. Crucially, these two pillars are context-specific, meaning advanced analytics are needed to ensure your content meets these specific customer needs. Once firms can visualize the entire cross-channel journey of a customer, they can identify all possible interactions and how best to approach them. This can be referred to as ‘Big Data’, which consists of: 

 

  • CRM data (Personal info, purchase data, website activity, service usage data, preferences…)
  • Social audience data (persona, behavior, interests, latent intent…)
  • Location data (location of stores, weather forecasts, markets, prices…)
  • Live contextual data (live sports, trending events and topics, time & data…)

 

By collecting and analyzing all this available data, companies can obtain crucial information about which personalized experiences should be triggered by which user’s actions. For instance, a fashion retailer might create personalized offers and trigger them based on the weather forecast. 

 

Moreover, a geofence can be defined around a particular neighborhood. This means that when a potential customer crosses that geofence, a push-notification with a special discount for a relevant product can be triggered. Arriving at the shop can trigger another real-time interaction, bringing attention to the new arrivals that the customer might be interested in: for instance in their preferred colors, or design.

 

These personalized journeys make it possible for companies to engage customers in real-time. However, they’re only made possible by leveraging customer data gathered from a range of user activities and behaviors.

What’s the right approach for you?

A recent study into how companies can fully exploit available customer data for marketing optimization suggested a three-step approach: 

 

  1. creating the correct environment for advanced analytics
  2. implementing advanced analytics competencies for marketing teams, the specific advanced analytics competencies, and advanced analytics competencies within IT
  3. bridging the silos between marketing and IT teams

 

In this process, CMOs with an affinity for software will hold a further advantage. As will those with the correct infrastructure in place. Customer experience platforms, like Adobe Experience Platform with Adobe Analytics and Adobe Campaign in combination with Adobe Sensei, offer powerful technology to deliver engaging, holistic brand experiences at scale. 

 

With the right solution to hand, getting started will be easier than you think. However, be sure to keep Steve Jobs’ famous advice in mind: “you have to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology - not the other way around”. In order to achieve this, firms should: 

  1.  Start with setting the stage: Develop a vision that guides all the efforts towards creating and delivering personalized experiences at scale and in real-time. Define clear objectives and results to measure the success of implementing real-time personalization for your customers.
  2. Get the basics right: Build a minimum viable product (MVP) that adds value to all customers. Then mold marketing initiatives around this aligned approach.
  3. Develop flagship projects: Learn from your MVP and develop a visionary personalization project for your key customers.
  4. Become best in class: Continue evolving by measuring the impact of your solution, and then using that data to constantly learn more about how to improve your experiences.
Bonus tip

As far as personalization tactics go, personalized video content is a great bet for unlocking even closer customer relationships. With studies showing that almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before considering purchasing, video content is set to be the next marketing breakthrough modern brands need. For more video inspiration, check out innovative start-ups like iRewind or Spirable’s approaches to making video personalization at scale a reality. 

 


Remo Brechbuehl

Business Consultant

Remo Brechbühl has gained diverse experience in marketing, business development and strategy. During his assignments he could prove his capabilities in project management, designing strategies, customer journey mapping, and stakeholder management. He emphasis the importance of value co-creation and an analytical approach to drive an immersive user experience. Remo holds a Master’s (CEMS) degree (MSc) in International Management and a Master’s degree (MA) in Marketing, Communication and Services.

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