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The 4 Pillars of a Successful Personalization Program Launch

“Deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and location” — this is probably the most repeated phrase heard in marketing circles this year. Marketers (rightly) believe that providing prospects and customers with the most personalized experience across all channels is the best way to enable faster conversions and ensure loyalty.

Although companies realize that this vision is going to be inevitable in the future, marketing departments are still required to prove that their investments towards this effort are actually capable of translating into a net-positive for the bottom line. In this post, we discuss four areas that should come together in the short term to ensure that your personalized marketing program gets off to a strong start and takes deeper root within the company’s culture.

Technology

Technology is a critical part of ensuring success for the personalization program. The right mix of technologies work seamlessly with each other to deliver relevant experiences and ensure that there is a constant feedback loop for analysis and optimization.

Since no one wants this to be an easy exercise, there are hundreds of tech companies out there to choose from. The marketing landscape is changing at a seizure-inducing pace due to mergers and acquisitions as well as new companies that are constantly emerging to fill gaps. We recommend that companies conduct an audit of their current tech stack and update them to ensure that they have all the pieces of the puzzle. There should be internal employees who have the know-how of the precise capabilities of each technology and can define the exact places at which the tech handshake takes place. This should also be documented for redundancy and transparency.

Technology is the engine of the personalization program. The most well laid out of plans will be ineffective without the right technology in place to deliver them.

Mindset

Prior to the launch of the personalization program, marketers generally suffer from the Goldilocks syndrome: They first under-utilize, then over-engineer, before finally deciding on a combination that’s just right.

The “under-utilizers” are the group that do not yet understand the capabilities of today’s data and technology. They are still stuck in the old “Buy Now!” campaign messaging mode, and try to fit personalization into their existing plan instead of letting an overarching personalization plan orchestrate their messaging in media and owned properties. A personalization program implemented at this point generally sees poor returns on investment due to their inherently limited nature of scope.

Once marketers do realize the existing capabilities, they tend to get excited and swing to the other extreme — the “over-engineerers.” This group starts thinking about how they can provide differentiated messaging to the smallest of populations, and such meetings quickly go down in flames as they continuously slice and dice audiences into finer groups.

It is critical to align everyone to the Middle Path as soon as possible. We understand much more about the consumer today than ever before, which gives us a great opportunity to provide differentiated messaging and continually guide them through their journey. However, we also need to let consumer behavior drive their experiences, and make it a pull process instead of pushing an experience onto them.

Content

Content is another crucial aspect of a personalized program. If technology is the engine, content (information, creative, copy, and calls to action) is the gasoline that the engine will use to make the car run. Companies need to have relevant content that will keep their consumers engaged, as well as have a wide variety of it that can speak to multiple groups.

A lot of companies are great at getting the right tech in place but hesitate to create new content. Think about it — if you have the best technology in the world but only three pieces of creative, how personalized can your program get? Other times, companies have the right tech and creative, but their owned properties do not have sufficient/relevant content to keep the consumers interested, and they quickly bounce. The best party invitations are useless if you don’t have activities to keep people engaged.

Modular content deserves a special callout here for its role as a force multiplier. This philosophy ensures that you can mix and match creative executions, copy, and calls to action to create multiple combinations that can be reused across different consumer segments and journey stages, effectively cutting down the number of “units” that need to be produced, reducing cost.

People/Processes

A comprehensive personalization program encompasses all channels and direct media, and influences sales of all products. Therefore the personalization program sponsor should be able to tap into and/or impact (to differing degrees) planning and resource allocation across the IT team, product teams, marketing, technology, creative agencies, media agencies, and analytics. Each of these teams will play important roles in getting the personalization program off the ground and keeping it running. This is especially paramount in the short term since a lot of systems may not be fully integrated, and any weak link in the chain can reduce the efficiency of the program.

It is important that companies start erecting these pillars well in advance of the personalization program launch. Each of these will take a not-insignificant amount of time to realize, and all four need to converge at the same time to ensure that consumers are on the path of getting an optimized, personalized and harmonious experience across all of their interactions.

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