An Experience So Compelling, It Is Welcome
What Is It?
Smart personalization is when brands use all the data they have about a customer to provide a better, more relevant experience. Personalization is a fundamental piece of any digital strategy. Customers expect it, the data is available, and the technology needed to make it happen is within reach. The best personalization strategies include knowing how – and when – to apply what you know about customers.
How your brand chooses to personalize depends on your goals and what your customers are willing to accept. You also need to make sure you’re personalizing your customer experience in the right ways: it’s critical to prioritize the information that will bring the most value.
Why Is Smart Personalization so Essential Now?
Customers expect consistency across every interaction with your brand and, according to Forrester, “Customers are willing to share personal information with firms in exchange for more valuable experience.”1 More than 60% of U.S. adults will likely not return to a website that doesn’t provide a satisfactory customer experience, so smart personalization processes are essential to maintaining your customer relationships.
This concept is illustrated with the phrase “Show me you know me, and then show me the value.” Customers expect your brand to take the information you know about them – their past purchases, customer service history, and preferences – and use it in ways that add value and make their lives easier.
Demands for a personalized experience are more frequent than ever, and advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the ways organizations approach enabling these experiences. Companies are shifting from rules-based personalization to using automated personalization engines to tailor experiences that match customers’ needs and preferences even more closely than before. The industry will see another evolution in personalization with the addition of cognitive intelligence, which we’ll talk about more in the next section.
How Does It Work?
Our Personalization Spectrum illustrates different types of personalization, ranging from simple to complex and spanning the range of delivery methods – rules-based, automated, and cognitive.
While rules-based and automated personalization can help you respond to certain pieces of customer data, many companies are realizing that the more they understand the intentions driving customers’ behaviors and actions, the more effectively they can personalize experiences. This is where cognitive intelligence comes in.
Cognitive solutions attempt to understand customers’ intent when they’re researching or asking a question about your brand or products, then consider the individual’s preferences and serve up the most relevant information. Some cognitive solutions can even understand sentiment, based on the words a customer uses when searching or asking questions. These solutions can identify customers’ moods, allowing you to capture that data and use it to further personalize and improve the experience. Remember, not every platform that analyzes data is considered “cognitive.” Only those that understand customer intent are truly cognitive.
Who's Done It Well?
Yahoo! Sports provides a good example of automated content creation with its fantasy teams. Working with a company called Automated Insights, which provides the AI content, Yahoo! Sports sends recaps to fantasy football league members for each of their imaginary games. The content is pieced together based on data about actual teams and players.
Netflix is another great example of smart personalization in action. Most people are probably aware that the service uses algorithms to recommend similar content based on movies or shows users have watched. You may not realize it, but Netflix takes this personalization a step further by using the customer’s most frequently watched genres to determine which scene from a particular film or show to display on the preview thumbnail.
Personalizing the Healthcare Experience
One of our clients, a large, not-for-profit healthcare consortium, provides another great example of success through personalization. The client is transforming its members’ experience and achieving its personalization goals using several solutions in the Adobe Marketing Cloud.
The platform helps the organization connect member data through a unique Adobe ID number. This ID makes it possible to easily follow each member across the different web experiences and sync data from multiple locations to the correct individual.
From a strategy perspective, personalization is baked into the client’s content strategy and embedded in processes. Any time the company and its partners begin building a new feature for its website or mobile app, personalization is a requirement that the development team has to consider in its design.
Where Can You Start?
Effective personalization starts with:
- Understanding the customer journey
- Using that insight to customize each touchpoint to match the individual’s needs, preferences, and intent
You must develop a 360-degree view of the customer and then identify opportunities to improve his experience with relevant content, offers, and calls to action. Many organizations struggle with establishing a single source of truth for their 360-degree view. Your customer data may be stored in a customer relationship management (CRM) system, or in an analytics platform, or maybe both. If your customer data is stored in multiple places, the first challenge you may need to overcome is syncing those platforms.
In addition to the quantitative customer data you collect, qualitative data can also provide clarity and help you understand issues customers have with your experience and discover new opportunities. To gain that insight, you must talk to customers so you can understand their needs or expectations.
Once you know how to effectively gather customer data, you have to process and make sense of it. Connecting the dots through your analytics platform, as well as through qualitative customer research, can reveal successes and failures within your digital experience and help you determine where and how to personalize it.