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Advanced Personalization Techniques–Making Things Easier for Your Customer

The concept of personalization is commonplace in marketing organizations. But, personalization techniques are evolving rapidly from a tactical to a strategic approach based on making things easier for an individual customer. Leading brands have evolved their personalization strategies to meet individual customer’s demands for intimacy. If you are not following suit your customers will notice and you risk losing market share.

How Are Personalization Techniques Advancing?

The personalization tactics of today vs the new and more advanced personalization strategies are as different as night and day. Most marketing organizations are using personalization tactics that focus on relevancy — event triggers, segments or personas — and are constructing messages and offers based on what others have done in the past – for example, people who bought this also bought this.

Advanced personalization strategies focus on the individual customer experience – making things easier for the customer — and are based on predictive analytics and insights. Advanced personalization techniques deliver an experience that uses customer data and understanding to frame, guide, extend, and enhance interactions based on an individual’s history, preferences, context, and intent. ​Its aim is to improve a customer’s experience by make things easier for them – for example, I buy a dress and the brand makes a recommendation for a dress shoes, a bag, and a jacket that will complete the outfit. Or, you upload a picture of yourself so you can try different shades of lipstick before you buy. Both actions help the customer.

 

 

What is Best for the Individual Customer A Customer Centric Approach

Customers have realized that one of the big advantages of technology is that it helps them quickly take care of what they deem to be mundane tasks. This allows them to move on to spending their time doing the things they want to do and enjoying experiences that make them happy and enrich their lives.

Advanced personalization is a customer-centric strategy, not a traditional product centric approach. It demands organizations to flip their mindset, processes, and outlook to be “people first.” It is all about what is best for the individual customer and is based on understanding their behavior, preferences, wants and needs. It uses machine learning to help marketers, and others in the organization who have touchpoints with the customer, create unique experiences based on customer context and intent. It is not based on what everyone else has done in the past.

To find out more about how to implement advanced personalization at scale across the organization, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across all Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Implementing Personalization at Scale to Deliver ROI – 4 Key Capabilities

In today’s Engagement Economy, it is imperative for brands to take their personalization efforts to the next level or risk alienating customers with “old school” personalization strategies that continue to prioritize volume rather than value. But implementing advanced personalization at scale requires transformational change which can be risky. And risk demands a well thought out ROI.

A More Advanced Personalization Strategy is Good for Business

A Forrester Research Study states, advanced personalization increases average order values 1.9x, customer retention 1.7x, and customer lifetime value 1.6x.  And a Harvard Business Review Article states that advanced personalization strategies “can deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend and can lift sales by 10% or more.” With so much to gain, advanced personalization strategies are worth the risk, with tremendous upside for companies that do it right.

Advanced Personalization Goes Beyond Marketing

Advance personalization demands an organizational shift to a set of objectives focused on a person first, customer centric strategy. This is the strategy that will achieve positive and long term ROI and business results. To be successful, advanced personalization at scale is not limited to marketing, but should include, customer service, sales, and any other function that interacts with the customer. In other words, it demands an integrated approach across all customer touch points in the organization. The intent is to deliver individualized customer engagement through personalized experiences that meet customers’ need. And today, customers are demanding this. In fact, 79% of buyers only consider brands that understand and care about them (Wunderman) and 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they’re being understood (McKinsey).

An Integrated Approach is Necessary

To achieve the results needed to deliver on customer expectations for individualized personalization, an integrated approach is necessary. But, where do you start? Let marketing take the lead to build out the capabilities needed for precise engagement and expand across the organization from there.

Advanced Personalization at Scale Requires 4 Key Capabilities

  1. Develop a Customer First Strategy by looking at the world through your customer lens. Not only their buying behavior but also their interests, preferences and intent. This requires an in depth understanding of each customer, so you can identify any pain points, solve them and provide a personalized experience based on:
    1. Simplifying their options to help them reach their goals
    2. Bringing relevant facts to them that help them make decisions
    3. Providing relevant suggestions based on their needs, not what others have done in the past.
    4. Providing support by tapping into their emotions and showing customers you care.

 

  1. Build Data and Analytic Capabilities: Data is the foundation for advanced personalization. You need to be able to:
    1. Collect customer data from across your organization, including both internal and external data, e.g. customer service, merchandising, store operations, web, social, devices, apps… and create a customer data repository
    2. Create a 360º view for each customer, including: demographics, online behavior, app behavior, email interactions, social media activity and offline channel interactions.
    3. Use predictive analytics to give customers what they want and need: simplify their decision making by offering up the right product combinations, advise them with product recommendations, that show you care.

 

  1. Advance your Technology: Create a platform for real time customer engagement by investing in the right technology. Advanced personalization requires advanced customer management capability, a platform to support streaming data collection, inline analytics, and the ability to orchestrate communications and interactions across multiple touch points.

 

  1. Different Ways of Working: The final capability is perhaps the most difficult as it can come with organizational cultural challenges. It is the capability of being able to deliver on advanced personalization as a collaborative venture. While marketers must lead the way, there are many constituents who need to buy in (CIO, CFO, CEO…), many players who need to be willing to play (marketing, merchandising, customer service, store operations, technology team…), and many find they need to bring in outside experts to coach or pitch hit (agency, consultants, data integrators.)

As stated upfront, advanced personalization at scale is worth the work, process, investment, and time it will take for the organization to adjust to a new customer perspective, strategy, and systems. The leaders delivering advanced personalization at scale are achieving ROI. And not moving in this direction will leave your company at risk, alienating customers who expect a hyper-personalized experience

To find out more about how to implement advanced personalization at scale across the organization, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across all Customer Touchpoints.

 About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Personalization Marketing Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Last week at the CRMC I facilitated a workshop on the future of personalization. Joining me were my colleagues Adam Roberts and Andrea Shaikin, Former Director of Marketing, Loyalty and Innovation – STAPLES Canada. The intent of the workshop was to give attendees the capabilities to up their customer personalization game. The workshop started by defining and categorizing the personalization we have been working with and the type of personalized experiences needed now to satisfy customers’ expectations.

We wanted to share the key personalization marketing trends that are driving brands to move beyond what is rapidly becoming viewed as “old-school” personalization strategies to take their customer personalization efforts to the next level.

Defining Personalization 2.0

As customers continue to raise the bar in terms of the personalized experiences they expect from brands, the personalization strategies now in place are just not going to cut it.

Advanced personalization strategies involve creating a customer experience that uses customer data and understanding to frame, guide, extend, and enhance interactions based on that individual customer’s history, preferences, context, and intent.

With personalization 2.0, segmentation is replaced with individualization, near-time with real-time, and channel optimization with organizational unification around the idea of a customer first mind-set.

In Practice Personalization 2.0 is a Dramatic Shift

Personalization 2.0 requires a shift in our organizational focus (with marketing taking the lead) from product and price to a customer lens and from a channel viewpoint to that of customer touchpoints – thus extending the definition of the customer experience to include, for example, customer service and sales. And from a strategy and execution perspective it shifts how we use data, create content, think about our channels, how much we know about our individual customers, and the context from which we operate.

Some companies have already made the shift, L’Oréal’s Style My Hair app, where you can upload a picture of yourself and see what you look like with different hair colors and Nike’s custom color wheel, where you can customer design the colors of your sneakers, are two good examples of personalization at an individual customer level.

Not planning for the shift leaves your brand at risk of alienating customers and losing market share. Risks few of us can afford.

To find out more about how to create 360º customer profiles and implement them across the enterprise, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across all Customer Touchpoints.

 About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

 

Make 360º Customer Profiles A Reality

Creating 360º customer profiles are vitally important if we are to deliver the personalized customer experiences our customers expect and demand. Yet, creating 360º customer profiles can seem elusive and hard to achieve.  But they are worth the effort. Not only because 360º customer profiles are a tangible tool that benefits marketing, but also because they can benefit the whole enterprise.  Here’s how you can take customer profiles from concept to tangible reality.

How to Create a Customer Profile                                  

A 360º customer profile is simply a collection of all your customer data stored in one place and then made available in a visual format, similar to a dashboard.  Since each customer interacts with your company in different ways, each profile will be unique.  Here is a 5-step process:

STEP 1: To start, think about what you want to know and understand about your customers.  Make a list.  This list could contain demographics as well as how your customers interact across various devices and channels.

STEP 2: Once you define your wish list, go back through your list, and identify where data may reside. You may need to identify which organizational function first (such as customer service) then drill down to the specific application. It’s a good idea to prioritize your list. Depending on your technology team’s bandwidth, you may need to phase in data over time.

Don’t overlook your customers as a potential source for data collection.  For example, you may ask some questions about intent during a web interaction to narrow search efforts. You will receive more data, and the customer will get a better user experience.

STEP 3: Work with your technology team to determine how data will be extracted from the source applications and fed into your central data repository. Work toward making the extraction process as real time as possible.

STEP 4: You will need a method to match up customer records to achieve that one single view of the customer. Map your data to the right people by customer name, IDs, or other uniquely identifiable parameters. Advanced matching algorithms can go deeper to determine more matches based on several parameters.  For example, you can match a nick name with a full name or even unknown customers to a known customer record.

Remember that data cleansing is key to leveraging your data.  If your data is in a messy state, you’ll want to run cleansing routines.

STEP 5:  The last step in the processes is determining how to visualize your 360º customer profiles.  There are many data visualization tools you can use for this purpose.

Now the fun begins. Analyze each customer’s shopping habits, purchase behaviors, and responses to different types of messages and offers.  Identify channel preference, analyze the customer journey, identify pain points, the list goes on.  With this deep understanding of your customers, you are ready to engage in more meaningful ways.

Share the Knowledge

Now that your 360º profiles are in place, be sure to make them accessible to the whole enterprise; customer service, in-store sales associates, online sales representatives, product development, and so on.

Only then can you deliver a real-time personalized experience and maximum ROI, loyalty, and lifetime value.

To find out more about how to create 360º customer profiles and implement them across the enterprise, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across all Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

How Risky are Customer Engagement Platform Implementations?

New marketing technologies are appearing on the market constantly and CMOs are under pressure to stay competitive and make sure their organization is making the right decision when choosing and transitioning to new customer engagement platform technology. With any new technology, there is risk and anxiety as implementation looms large, especially when the technology requires not only a different mindset, but also a different organizational structure.

Customer Engagement Platforms Demand Thinking and Acting Differently

To succeed in meeting consumers’ needs, marketers are rushing to unify touchpoints, reduce complexity, and increase agility and have high expectations of any new marketing technology they decide to invest in and deploy. The new Customer Engagement Platforms require us to think and act differently in our marketing. Campaigns, targeting, customer segmentation, transactions, and other traditional principles are being replaced with, engagements, customer personalization, and real-time interactions.

Don’t Underestimate the Challenges of Implementation

There are risks marketers face when investing and deploying new and sophisticated Customer Engagement Platforms – many underestimate the data integration process which can be more challenging and time consuming than anticipated.

Additionally, few organizations are equipped to handle customer engagement platform deployment and management in-house. Even firms with a strong IT capability may struggle to incorporate the new technologies.

Failure to acquire sufficient knowledge about marketing technology will lead
to delayed implementation at best, and at worst could result in a deployment that fails to meet internal and customer expectations. If the right expertise is not used the complexities often require sacrifices of capabilities and oftentimes it’s a major capability marketers have depended on to deliver an ROI.

Solutions to Decrease Implementation Risks

Marketing must understand the requirements of their technologies and, assess their internal bandwidth for implementation. A couple of solutions to decrease the risk and implementation challenges are:

  1. Create a new marketing playbook that aligns to your new capabilities as the new capabilities are implemented. Execute your playbook to get fast traction.
  2. Get outside expertise to support implementation and platform migrations. Outside expertise can help you have a higher chance of keeping on budget and on schedule, and have a higher probability of success.

Not managing the risk is not an option. The investment, your customers, and your ability to retain the brand’s competitive advantage all depend on your marketing department’s delivery of consistent, contextually relevant experiences, in real-time, across the customer journey, regardless of device or channel.

To find out more ways to decrease the risks and challenges of implementing customer engagement platforms and other new marketing technologies, download our latest eBook, , How to Implement Personalization Across all Customer Touchpoints.

 About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

 

 

Why You Need a Good Customer Personalization Strategy

Personalization is a top priority for most marketers, today. Yet most attempts don’t reach the potential of driving behavioral change, goodwill, and business results. Pivoting to a good personalization strategy is a hard, but necessary, shift in today’s competitive environment. It requires an organizational mindset change from communication relevancy to customer first communication. And, a strategy that maps the customer’s journey and identifies addressable pain points to improve customers’ experiences. All of which requires cross functional collaboration, customer, research, and data analysis.

Each Customer is Distinct

Many marketers think they are delivering a personalized experience to their customers. But many customers think otherwise. Customers are exposed to new, contextually relevant experiences, every day, and this raises their expectations and demands for this level of engagement from every brand they interact with. Companies that are succeeding in personalization, at scale, have made the mind-set shift from seeing customers as data records to seeing individual people with needs, interests, and distinct behavioral patterns. They recognize that customers not brands determine if an experience is personalized. Their mind-set shift has allowed them to create a good personalization strategy based on the specific expectations of their brand’s customers and scale from there – allowing them to avoid under or over investing in technology.

A Good Personalization Strategy Can’t Be Piecemeal

A good personalization strategy needs to cover all channels and devices, and each interaction. Customers don’t distinguish between channels and don’t expect the brands to do so either. A recent Forrester whitepaper stated that while 75% of digital pros are personalizing their content on their site, only 55% personalize promotions, 49% personalize product recommendations, and even fewer still personalize reminders and alerts, mobile app content, or screen layout. And Forrester goes on to say that, “Missing from this picture entirely is how personalization happens in the store and across other touchpoints.”

Rethinking your Personalization Strategy

It is becoming very clear that rethinking your organization’s personalization strategy is the single most important thing you can do if you are to successfully attract and retain customers, at scale.   What makes a good personalization strategy?  Here are 5 things to consider:

  1. Pivot from a product first to a customer first mind-set.
  2. Align your personalization efforts to business objectives and outcomes.
  3. Determine the technology your company needs to get to scale.
  4. Identify the level of personalization required — mapping to what your customers expect.
  5. Unify your channels for a seamless customer experience.

For more information on how to build and execute a good personalization strategy, download our eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across all Customer Touchpoints.

 About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Pros and Cons of Marketing Cloud Solutions

To succeed in meeting consumers’ needs and wants, marketers need to unify touch-points, reduce complexity, and increase agility. But, as we well know, the multitude of technology options now available makes choosing which technologies are best for your organizations needs more complex.

Most recently, marketing cloud solutions have been getting a lot of attention and are being positioned (by some) as the turn-key solution to many of marketing’s technology challenges. But are they? Marketing cloud solution users cite they continue to have challenges in such areas as: integration with legacy systems, end-to-end coverage, and integrating the right data, services, and support.

There Are No Perfect Solutions                                                          

The real answer is there are no perfect solutions when it comes determining the right mix of technology offerings. A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper, commissioned by Yes Lifecycle Marketing, states that, “With all the options available to them, marketers are put in the difficult position of deciding between depth and breadth in their technology solutions. On one hand, adopting a best-of-breed approach addresses specific needs exceptionally well but requires continuous integration. On the other hand, while a single suite (marketing cloud solution) suffers from inconsistent functionality depth, it’s billed as fully integrated.”

Factors Marketers Need to Consider Before Committing        

There are pros and cons to any technology solution and cloud-based marketing solutions are no exception.

Marketing Cloud Solutions — Pros:

  1. Considered more powerful, accessible and better-connected than on-premises software, updates can be deployed automatically.
  2. Cloud solutions can afford increased opportunities to deliver deployments at speed.
  3. Greater access to certain capabilities like analytics, data storage, and reporting.

Marketing Cloud Solutions — Cons:

  1. End to end coverage not a reality, which for many is a reason to consider a marketing cloud solution – the belief that they can reduce the number of vendors they deal with and cover all technology categories with one solution.
  2. Sometimes not robust enough to allow for the speed needed when responding in real-time to customer needs.
  3. Integration with legacy systems can be problematic

Best-of-Breed Alternative

Successful technology usage requires more than features and functionality. Marketing technology is complex. It requires effort to deploy and maintain and involves many stakeholders. While Integrated packages can appear attractive, marketers need to look at all options as each organizational case is different.

An alternative to Marketing Cloud Solutions are individual point solutions, or taking a best-of-breed approach, breaking down the three critical capabilities needed – data management, analytics, and orchestration — to decide what solutions work best, for example an engagement platform coupled with a data platform.

To be successful, marketing technology solutions need to be both comprehensive and increase agility. To find out more about how to determine the right technology mix for your organization and implement personalization at scale, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across All Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Who Says a Real-Time Marketing Strategy is Marketing “On-The-Fly”?

Wikipedia describes a real-time marketing strategy as “marketing performed on-the-fly.” But we all know that just isn’t true. To do real-time marketing right, there is a good deal of planning that must take place, starting with a clear strategy and enough dynamic content prepared and at the ready to execute.

Real-Time Marketing Strategy Success Relies on Contextually Relevant Interactions

When you Google real-time marketing many articles and blogs focus on the brands who have successfully created a relevant campaign during a cultural event. Probably the best-known example being Oreo, “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark.” A message that was tweeted during the power outage at the Super Bowl.

And while these culturally relevant campaigns are certainly great examples, everyday real-time marketing is not a flashy campaign. It is the ability to interact with any customer with a relevant message or offer to move them along the journey to purchase, wherever and whenever the customer initiates contact with your brand.

To Deliver the Feeling of Spontaneity Everything Needs to be Aligned

The only way to deliver real-time, so it appears to be a spontaneous reaction to a customer touch point activity, is to have everything well planned and all needs aligned. For example, care needs to be taken not to deliver the wrong value proposition or offer to the wrong person. And beyond having an arsenal of content waiting in the wings, there are major technology requirements that need to be in place. Marketing needs access to sophisticated data and analytics to be able to develop the predictive models to make real-time a reality.

What it Takes for Marketing to be “Always On”

To start, you need a solid understanding of your customers.  What customers want from a transaction, what their buying preferences are, what their purchasing history includes, and what their value is to the brand.  This 360º view into your customers empowers you to create contextually relevant messages.

Next is in-line analytics to improve real-time decisions and apply advanced analytics, such as machine learning, to segment, target, and deliver personalized messages, such as next best product.  These analytic approaches deliver automation to your customer engagement strategy.  And enables much more individualized interactions — both in terms of contextual relevancy and in cadence that is more tightly aligned with real-time customer needs.

Then, add orchestration capability and an arsenal of content for the agility you need to design seamless workflows across channels and devices.  Armed with the

ability to present real- time next best action recommendations, you can guide your customers through the various phases of their customer journey.

To find out more about what it takes to be real-time ready, download our e-Book, Getting Started with Real-Time Customer Engagement, here.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

The Impact of IoT on Marketing

The Internet of Things, IoT, is a topic every marketer is talking about. But, what does it mean, and more specifically, what is the impact of IoT on marketing? IoT’s smart, connected devices provide marketers with a new suite of opportunities to listen and respond to the needs and wants of their audience, based on their behaviors. How? At its simplest, the IoT is the connection of all things to a network or the Internet and its impact can already be seen in cars, home appliances, wearables, and on store shelves, to name a few examples.

IoT Allows Customers to Tell You What They Want

Forget the days of trying to figure out what people want. IoT presents opportunities for real-time engagement where customers are telling you what they want, on a continuous basis.

And your audience is eager to improve their lives with these devices and provide marketers they trust with the information needed to do so. As Cole Shafer, the head of copy for HoneyPot, so aptly says in his recent article for Medium, “We don’t want to wait for a taxi. We want to hit a button and be in an Uber in 2 minutes. We don’t want to fuss with hotels. We want to instantly book an Airbnb. We don’t want to stand in line at the bank. We want to simply take a picture of our check and have it deposited. We want to save time on mundane tasks so we can spend more time doing the stuff we want to do.” And IoT devices do just that – take care of the mundane not only with the touch of a button, but with sound of your voice.

IoT Solidifies the Need for a Customer First Lens

To take advantage of these new devices and the ever-growing customer expectations, you need to flip your marketing, and indeed your organization’s objectives to drive customer benefits first, then business outcomes. Marketers and organizations, need to look at the world through a customer first lens and provide customers with the experiences they want. And it pays off. Recently, Forrester provided the ROI with a reported 36% faster revenue-growth rates. Here are two examples of companies thinking with a customer first lens:

  1. Amazon GO, Amazon’s new retail concept which allows customers to scan their purchase and go, without having to check-out.
  2. L’Oreal’s recent purchase of leading beauty tech firm Modiface, which specializes in augmented and virtual reality tools. This acquisition has already resulted in the launch of an app for, L’Oreal Professional, called Style My Hair, which provides augmented-reality hair color tryouts.

IoT Turns Every Business into a Digital Business

If, as Forrester says, “Every business is now a digital business and needs to chase customers ever-growing expectations, not competition,” the goal is to collect, analyze, synthesis, and react, in real-time, to customer information and do so across multiple touch-points. And, with IoT comes a new flood of data. Data that directly affects the whole organization, not just marketing. As Deon Newman, Chief Marketing Officer for IBM’s Watson Internet of Things (IoT), told Fortune Magazine, in November 2017, “Data is the basis of competitive differentiation for every company. CMOs can play a leadership role in making IoT data how marketers understand customers and products. But their influence can extend so much further. Marketers can join forces with the heads of engineering, research and development, sales, and customer service to use IoT data to create more customer-centric products, offer new services, and find and sustain new differentiation.”\

Customers Happy to Hand Over Information

Customers want to improve their lives with the smart devices associated with IoT, and will provide marketers, they trust, with the information needed to do so, especially if it means they free up time to enjoy more of the types of experiences they seek. And, IoT devices do just that – take care of the “mundane” not only with the touch of a button, but with sound of your voice, or by predicting your needs – think smart fridges and Nest thermostats and home alarm systems.

How will your company make your customers’ lives easier? Figuring that out has tremendous upside as customers will reward those companies with their loyalty.

To find out the steps needed to take advantage of all the data from IoT, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across All Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

 

The Future is Now: Predictive Analytics Marketing

Personalizing, even individualizing, customer experiences with predictive analytics is now the de facto marketing strategy in the race to stay competitive. However, predictive analytics tools are becoming more sophisticated every day. Machine learning and AI are making the science of using data to predict customer behavior more accurate and far-reaching than ever before. A trend that is only going to continue, at an accelerated pace. Marketers who do not keep up with the advances in predictive analytics are going to have a difficult time playing catch up.

Decoding Customer Buying Behavior

Predictive analytics, aided by machine learning and AI, helps marketers anticipate the buying habits of consumers by decoding past and present buying habits, thus giving greater insight into the customer, their needs and wants, and the ability to project future behavior. For example, if the goal is to increase wallet share, decoding a customer’s current behavior and buying habits can put you in the position to serve up messages based on that behavior and through machine learning perfect those messages over time, to the point where the customer believes you are individualizing the messages – “time to buy more toilet paper?”

Creating A Test and Learn Engine

Predictive analytics coupled with machine learning creates a test and learn engine that requires a fundamental re-architecting of a company’s marketing analytics processes. The definition of predictive analytics is as follows, “The practice of extracting information from existing data sets to determine patterns and predict outcomes and trends.” The goal then is to create a learning ecosystem that connects insights to outcomes as part of a continuous, self-improving cycle. It requires a commitment to iteration, not an absolute success or failure mind-set.

Anytime you use the past to predict what is going to happen tomorrow or the next day, you need to adjust your success metrics. Learning is success. Continuous learning brings greater understanding and great understanding leads to more and more success, over time.

Successfully Using Predictive Analytics Requires Focused Thinking and Modeling  

The insights gained from the use of predictive analytics are only as good as the thinking and modeling that the analysis is based on. Like all data analysis this adage still holds – garbage in, garbage out.

Successful use of predictive analytics demands several actions from marketing.

  1. Be clear about your business objectives
  2. Determine your personalization strategy or approach
  3. Make a clear decision as to what it is you need to know about the customer
  4. Define your model by integrating data discovery and decision making.
    1. Data discovery is about sourcing and combining traditional and behavioral data to uncover meaningful insights about customers (such as their preferences, interests, and needs.)
    2. Automated decision makingis driven by the advanced analytics models that produce propensity scores for each customer or prospect. These scores define the probability of an individual responding to a specific offer or engaging with specific content.
  5. Content distribution is the final step.A good system will use customer and prospect scores to trigger personalized ads and landing pages, and to distribute specific content, offers, or experiences across channels.

To find out how to implement personalization at scale using predictive analytics download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across All Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

 

The Future is Now: Predictive Analytics Marketing

Personalizing, even individualizing, customer experiences with predictive analytics is now the de facto marketing strategy in the race to stay competitive. However, predictive analytics tools are becoming more sophisticated every day. Machine learning and AI are making the science of using data to predict customer behavior more accurate and far-reaching than ever before. A trend that is only going to continue, at an accelerated pace. Marketers who do not keep up with the advances in predictive analytics are going to have a difficult time playing catch up.

Decoding Customer Buying Behavior

Predictive analytics, aided by machine learning and AI, helps marketers anticipate the buying habits of consumers by decoding past and present buying habits, thus giving greater insight into the customer, their needs and wants, and the ability to project future behavior. For example, if the goal is to increase wallet share, decoding a customer’s current behavior and buying habits can put you in the position to serve up messages based on that behavior and through machine learning perfect those messages over time, to the point where the customer believes you are individualizing the messages – “time to buy more toilet paper?”

Creating A Test and Learn Engine

Predictive analytics coupled with machine learning creates a test and learn engine that requires a fundamental re-architecting of a company’s marketing analytics processes. The definition of predictive analytics is as follows, “The practice of extracting information from existing data sets to determine patterns and predict outcomes and trends.” The goal then is to create a learning ecosystem that connects insights to outcomes as part of a continuous, self-improving cycle. It requires a commitment to iteration, not an absolute success or failure mind-set.

Anytime you use the past to predict what is going to happen tomorrow or the next day, you need to adjust your success metrics. Learning is success. Continuous learning brings greater understanding and great understanding leads to more and more success, over time.

Successfully Using Predictive Analytics Requires Focused Thinking and Modeling  

The insights gained from the use of predictive analytics are only as good as the thinking and modeling that the analysis is based on. Like all data analysis this adage still holds – garbage in, garbage out.

Successful use of predictive analytics demands several actions from marketing.

  1. Be clear about your business objectives
  2. Determine your personalization strategy or approach
  3. Make a clear decision as to what it is you need to know about the customer
  4. Define your model by integrating data discovery and decision making.
    1. Data discovery is about sourcing and combining traditional and behavioral data to uncover meaningful insights about customers (such as their preferences, interests, and needs.)
    2. Automated decision makingis driven by the advanced analytics models that produce propensity scores for each customer or prospect. These scores define the probability of an individual responding to a specific offer or engaging with specific content.
  5. Content distribution is the final step.A good system will use customer and prospect scores to trigger personalized ads and landing pages, and to distribute specific content, offers, or experiences across channels.

To find out how to implement personalization at scale using predictive analytics download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across All Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

 

Satisfying Customer Data Protection Concerns Marketing’s Check List

Customer data protection issues are back in the news with the upcoming EU Data Protection Regulation (which goes into effect on May 25), California looking to introduce a new ballot initiative to extend their already stringent regulations, and Facebook recently announcing they would no longer fight this ballot initiative.

And, it is no wonder that some states are stepping up with stronger customer data protection initiatives, as it is the number one concern of online customers. 87% of users are taking active steps to improve their safety online (source: Digital Marketing Institute). And as more customer data protection regulations and guidelines are put in place it’s incumbent on marketers to understand their implications and follow them – or face penalties and/or fines. Or worse yet, lose customers…

Customers Sending Mixed Messages

However, these same customers are also sending mixed messages. About half say they don’t object to companies tracking their buying behaviors if it results in more relevant offers, and two thirds don’t mind text messages offering them coupons while in store. And, 6:10 believe getting relevant offers is more important than keeping their online activity private (source: Digital Marketing Institute).  No matter what the research shows, we all know that if it’s in the news, it’s on our customers’ minds. And, with a news cycle comes heightened vigilance.

A Marketer’s Check List

Given all of this and the ever-present requirement for brands to deliver personalization, here’s a checklist to help you stay on track when it comes to satisfying your customers’ data protection needs.

  1. Be transparent.
  2. Develop user-centric data protection controls to give customers control.
  3. Respect customer preferences, requests and interaction channel preferences.
  4. Prevent human intrusion by using automation wherever possible.
  5. Make sure your organization is compliant with the new EU Data Protection Regulation. This law will apply to any company that sells to European citizens or residents-or anyone who creates data in the EU.
  6. Consistently examine your current policies and make necessary changes.

Download, compliments of VeraCentra, the Harvard Business Review’s whitepaper, The 30 Things Your Customers Value. In it you will learn how to identify high impact elements that can increase the value of your offerings and gain insight on how to grow without having to invent the ‘next big thing’.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

What’s More Important, Customer Centric Metrics or Campaign Metrics?

The answer, of course, is that both are important. However, in our quest to transition our organizations from being product centric to being customer centric the metrics being used to measure success are often not in alignment, slowing down the transition and causing confusion as to what the cultural drivers are for the organization.

Using Customer Centric Metrics as a Key Driver is a Necessity   

As businesses battle to stay competitive and relevant, the need to measure customer centricity is becoming a necessity, beyond marketing. A Harvard Business Review article, Why Strong Customer Relationships Trump Powerful Brands, drives home the necessity of organizations not only being customer centric, but also using customer relationships as a key suite of metrics, when it demonstrated the move that investors have made from looking for companies with strong brands to looking for companies with strong customer relationships, “Over the last 10 years, brand valuations declined by nearly half (from 18% to 10%) while customer relationship values doubled (from 9% to 18%). These numbers reveal a dramatic shift in the strategic approach to marketing.”

Balancing Our Suite of Marketing Metrics

As marketers, it is still imperative that we measure the campaigns we create to drive customer acquisition and retention. But, as we transition our marketing thinking, strategies, and tactics to a more modern customer centric approach, it is paramount that the metrics we put in the foreground to measure ROI mirror the new imperatives of customer engagement, loyalty, and lifetime value. Indeed, in the modern marketing world, campaign metrics become a subset of the metrics we need to track our customer centricity, where the entire organization is focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences, across multiple channels and touchpoints.

Re-balancing our marketing metrics to prioritize those that measure our organization’s customer centric focus obviously can’t happen without the necessary strategies, technology, resources, and tools in place to deliver customer personalization, at scale.

To find out the steps needed to implement customer personalization, at scale download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across All Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

The True Value of Data Driven Personalization

We are all very aware of the importance of optimizing the customer lifecycle. But, are we able to do everything we can to drive to the personalization customers demand, or are we being held back because our organization has yet to commit to the investment needed in data driven personalization technology and tools?

The Facts Are Conclusive – Data Driven Personalization Drives Revenue
The facts don’t lie. One of the biggest values of personalization is quite simply – revenue. To drive customer acquisition, wallet share, and lifetime value organizations need a coherent plan and strategy that assesses their current technology, tools, and resources and the investment needed to fill the gaps to deliver personalization at scale.

To help you convince your organization to make the necessary investment in data driven personalization, we have put together an infographic of 10 quick facts that demonstrate the true value of personalization. You can download it, here.

The True Value of Data Driven Personalization

Data driven personalization is within the grasp of every organization. Today’s advanced technologies and tools, once only available to the largest organizations, are accessible to all and with careful planning and implementation deliver ROI and revenue growth.

The risk of not convincing your organization to make the necessary investment in data driven personalization is loss of revenue due to lack of relevance for an ever-demanding customer, who will happily switch allegiance to a brand that delivers what they want and need.

Download our True Value of Personalization Fast Facts Infographic, here.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

How to Make Cloud Based Marketing Solutions Work for You

As customer engagement evolves toward more real-time one to one interactions, marketers are looking for technology solution partners to support their advanced strategies. However, updating and upgrading marketing technologies is no easy undertaking. And the choices are becoming almost endless with 4000+ technology solutions on the market.

For many, there may be an initial attraction towards cloud based marketing solutions, which have been sold as a “one stop solution,” to deliver marketing’s desire to have an integrated platform. However, as with all technology, unless you plan and resource effectively, the technology you choose may not deliver.

Cloud Based Marketing Solutions Falling Short of Expectations

Cloud based marketing solutions are commonly sold as an “all in one product.” But the reality is that they are not a single product. They are a bundle of individual offerings under one banner, that may, or may not, integrate well with your existing systems, or even be the best tool for your needs.

Thinking that because something is part of an overall cloud based marketing solution means it will integrate well and be easy to implement is where marketers are getting themselves into trouble. In fact, a recent Forrester commissioned study showed that 95% of marketing cloud users experience challenges with implementation.

Without a well scoped plan the complexity of implementation can leave IT departments struggling to find the bandwidth needed to manipulate data and perform the necessary integrations. The Forrester commissioned study highlights this integration challenge with 40% of respondents stating their number one challenge with their cloud based marketing solution is integration with legacy systems.

64% Rely on Outside Consultants or Systems Integrators

The number one solution to overcome these challenges is to bring in outside partners who can provide the expertise and bandwidth to manage and coordinate the necessary integrations.

In addition to considering bringing in an outside partner, these three steps are critical to make cloud based marketing solutions work for you.

  1. It all Starts with Data. Any technology is pretty much useless if the data foundation has not been addressed first. Data plus technology is needed to execute real-time one to one customer interactions. The first step is to make sure all data – first, second, and third party data is in a centralized repository.
  2. Identify Critical Gaps. What are the critical requirements that are not being met by current systems? Scoping out requirements, makes it easier (not easy) to narrow the search for the tools that will meet the need.
  3. Manage Expectations. Expectations for any technology that demands a high level of investment are going to be high. And, added to that having the right technology is critical to marketing being able to meet the relentless demands of the customer. But, it is paramount that marketers manage expectations as to what the technology can and cannot fulfill.

To find out more about the steps needed to implement real-time one to one customer interactions, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across All Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

 

How to Implement Customer Personalization Across All Touchpoints

Customer personalization is top of mind for most marketing leaders. As it should be, given the last competitive battle field is creating personalized customer experiences. And, it has become very clear that customer personalization is the winning strategy to increase loyalty and drive revenue growth. 86% of buyers say they will pay more for a better customer experience — Customer Experience Survey Index Study, 2017.

Most Customer Personalization Solutions Remain Single Channel Focused

Within marketing teams, individual channel specialists continue to leverage vertical technology
tools to execute marketing programs and track customer response. For example, E-mail services provide tools to make email execution more personalized and personalization software exists for e-commerce platforms. However, many of these tools work in isolation and therefore, can be obstacles to the cross-channel execution needed to deliver a unified customer experience across all touchpoints.

Holistic Customer Personalization Strategy Needed

What’s needed is a holistic personalization strategy executable across all customer touchpoints. As the Harvard Business Review article, “The Ultimate Marketing Machine”, describes, “What marketers need to do to engage customers today is not limited to a single-channel experience. Marketers need to demonstrate strong leadership to promote change, and cross-channel teams must collaborate to design and execute a unified personalized customer experience.”

It’s Not Easy

A holistic customer personalization strategy requires changes on multiple fronts including strategy, technology, and process. And shifting the organization from entrenched marketing models to a new model focused on customer-centric marketing takes time, effort and most importantly, a planned approach.

A planned approach allows marketers to develop a clear vision for a customer personalization strategy along with an incremental process to execute change, allowing for iterative learning and cost-efficient scalability of needed technology investments.

The relentless need to satisfy an empowered customer, the intensifying competition, and multiplying channels, demand marketers evolve their customer personalization strategy, now. Otherwise, they risk diminished customer loyalty, wallet share, and ultimately revenue.

To find out what it takes to implement a holistic customer personalization strategy, download our latest eBook, How to Implement Personalization Across All Customer Touchpoints.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

The Marketing Data and Analytics Challenge – 10 Key Facts

Big data just keeps getting bigger! And every Marketing Leader is under great competitive pressure to harness big data for smarter personalized customer experiences. Yet, most are having a hard time getting their arms around the data their departments need to create the personalized experiences customers now expect. In fact, less than 1% of data is being analyzed and used. And every two days we produce the same amount of data that was produced in all of history up to 2003.

Not only are organizations swimming in data, but few companies have the know-how to merge their data to achieve the single customer view needed for personalized customer experiences. Only 16% merge contextual data with customer data to create a single, shared, and real-time view of the customer.

Brands need to figure out their data and quickly. 61% of CMOs believe they are under-leveraging big data. Yet, it is well known that data is the foundation for a personalized customer experience strategy – and a personalized experience strategy is what brands need to compete.

To drive home what Marketing Leaders need to overcome to compete effectively, we have illustrated the top challenges of harnessing data, scaling analytics, and delivering insights to produce smarter personalized customer experiences.

Download the infographic, here.

Top Data and Analytics Challenges Marketing Leaders Face Today

 

You can download the infographic, compliments of VeraCentra, here.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.

Marketing Cloud Technology Falling Short of Marketers Expectations

Investment in marketing technology to help us deliver personalized customer experiences is exploding. However, it is also true that many of us are facing a disturbing trend –that the operational benefits of marketing cloud technologies, we have invested in, are not as we expected. Bottom line, many cloud technologies are sold as a complete solution claiming to solve multiple marketing challenges. The expectations are high. However, studies indicate that our marketing cloud technology expectations and the actual benefits it reaps, after implementation, are out of sync.

Only 30% Have Reaped the Benefits of Greater Operational Efficiency           

A recent Forrester commissioned study reported, 51% of advanced marketing technology users expected to achieve greater operational efficiency after implementation, but only 30% have realized this benefit.” Additionally, the study reported disappointment in other areas, such as gaining a holistic understanding of the customer, improving customer experience, providing relevant offers or recommendations, and personalizing interactions. A benchmark study performed by Retail Systems Resources, reported that 66% of surveyed marketers believed in the value of personalization and engagement technologies, yet only 35% reported they were fully implemented and satisfied. Let’s take a step back and understand what’s happening here.

 Can One Technology Be all Things to all Marketers?

Thanks to rapid customer adoption of advanced technologies, marketing needs are extensive. We need to effectively ingest the right data, leverage the right personalization technologies, deploy the right analytic models, and ensure we can orchestrate communications across multiple (and constantly evolving) channels and devices.  So, it makes sense that all-in-one solutions are highly complex, can be more challenging, and even more costly than anticipated when it comes to implementation and adoption.

Implementing Advanced Marketing Technology

There’s no doubt marketers need a comprehensive marketing ecosystem to efficiently scale more personalized experiences across the enterprise.  Here are a few tips to avoid costly surprises down the road.

  1. Strategy first, technology second. In general, marketing technologies do align with marketers’ vision to better engage customers using personalization. However, personalization strategies should align to customer expectations and each company will have a different approach. Understanding how technology will support the strategy, before investing in technology will ensure the purchase of only what is needed and what the organization is able to implement.
  2. Consider Marketing Cloud’s individual component products for a best of breed approach. Integration of multiple best of breed tools that provide the right functionality may be a better bet over investing in an all-in-one solution.
  3. Get help. As the Forrester commissioned report states, “Few organizations are equipped to handle marketing technology deployment and management in house”. Specialized third party consultants and integrators who understand the requirements can speed up adoption and can increase the ROI of technology investments.

To learn more about successfully implementing marketing technology, check out the Harvard Business Review Article, How Marketers Can Personalize at Scale.  You can download it, compliments of VeraCentra  here.

About VeraCentra: Marketers everywhere want to use data to implement more modern customer engagement strategies. But there can be many obstacles standing in the way of success. That’s where we come in. VeraCentra provides easy-access Customer Data Hubs. We represent best of breed Cross Channel Engagement Platforms (so marketers get the right fit) and offer the Marketing and Data Services that guarantee speed to value and quick win ROI from technology investments. We deliver these solutions with an unmatched wholehearted approach bringing personalized support, care, and service to every client. That’s why many of our client relationships span more than a decade.