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From "One-to-All" to "One-to-One" Personalization

On any given day, a company is talking to their customers in a variety of different ways. There are the mass communications, where one offer or message is sent to anyone and everyone that will listen. Then there are the individualized communications, where the company directly interacts with an individual customer — or one-to-one.  

Today, the majority of one-to-one conversations are managed “human-to-human.” As technology continues to evolve, automated interactions are occurring across an ecosystem of channels and media. While many will argue that digital should never be considered personal or even related to personalization, the idea of marketers providing personalized experiences relies on automated digital interactions, which are defined and managed by the individual — at an individual-to-individual basis. Therefore, the goal of personalization is to deliver personalized experiences to each consumer within any format of the individual consumer’s choosing. 

To such an extent, I have broken out the various phases that a company goes through in the development of its personalization program, i.e., A Personalization Maturity Model. Each stage represents a methodology by which marketers are interacting with both consumers. 

Pause for applause on such a brilliant idea. OK, semi-brilliant. OK, can I get an applause for even trying?  

The initial three stages of the Personalization Maturity Model are campaign based. A company will usually start with a single offer or message and then associate the defined groups to the offer. Campaigns also tend to be linear in their approach. Predefined paths manage the experiences and interactions.

Stage 1: One-to-All 

The customer experiences no variations of treatment or offer. Content is changed on a mass level and distributed to everyone accordingly. The process can be labor intensive with little ROI feedback.

  • Push marketing
  • Batch campaigns
  • No segmentation
  • No optimization
  • Siloed channels

Stage 2: One-to-Many

Customer experiences the brand across multiple channels – site, emails, mobile site, social media, etc. Experience is not usually consistent or integrated. Campaign rules determine the next interaction. 

  • Push marketing
  • Batch campaigns
  • Rules based segmentation
  • A/B testing
  • Siloed channels

Stage 3: One-to-Some

Each channel / media has a variation of content based on channels, brands, and personas. Some channels and media are starting to integrate messaging. Offers are aligned to model-defined segments. 

  • Push/pull marketing
  • Audience-based segmentation campaigns
  • Model-defined segmentation
  • Multivariate optimization
  • Minimal integrated channels

The migration from stage 3 to stage 4 is usually one of the more difficult challenges that marketers are facing in their attempt to deliver one-to-few or one-to-one personalized experiences. Companies have to move from a single offer and defined campaign flows to a repository of offers and a solution capable of responding to interactions.   

It’s a paradigm shift. Okay, paradigm is so “'90s” ... which makes it retro. Retro makes it stylish again!

Companies have to make a subtle shift in more aspects than they realize. They have to shift to interactive technology and a reliance upon additional data (i.e., first, third, and sometimes second party data). They have to shift from predefined collateral to a repository of assets that are contextualized upon engagement.  

By the way, if you are not 100% certain of what I mean by “contextualized,” I think I remember a blog post that gives a rather good definition and example of the term.

Finally, there is a mindset shift. Of all of the obstacles in a company’s movement from stage 3 to stages 4 and 5, the mindset shift is the most difficult. The reason that the mindset shift is so difficult is that it requires a change in people, skills, and processes. The movement from the status quo and comfort to something different and (in some cases) “unknown.”

Yes, I’m implying that some of those incredible process and procedures that you learned in college may need to change evolve even adapt to the new era of data-driven / tech-enabled marketing.

So, as you review stages 4 and 5, remember that there are significant changes existing outside of the approach. Changes also exist at an organizational level.

Stage 4: One-to-Few

Customer experiences a connection between online and offline messaging. Company communicates with the customer on an interactive basis – leveraging model optimization and response messaging. 

  • Push/pull interactive marketing
  • Interactive marketing
  • Automated segmentation
  • Auto-modeled orchestration
  • Channel and media integration

Stage 5: One-to-One

Customer experiences personalized content optimized across channels. Communications are defined by interest, interactions, and orchestrated decisioning, which are delivered at the appropriate time. 

  • Push/pull interactive marketing
  • Interactive Marketing
  • Algorithmic segmentation
  • Auto-decision orchestration
  • Channel and media integration

Final Thoughts:

Even when a company reaches another stage in personalized campaign maturity, it does not mean that a company needs to or will stop leveraging the previous maturity stage. However, once a company moves beyond maturity stage 3, the frequency by which they leverage maturity stages 1 and 2 drops dramatically.   

Bonus Round:

I took the time to create a pic of the maturity model for you to copy, paste, and use elsewhere. Enjoy!

The stages of personalization maturity
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