The Shift to Digital Marketing Delivering Personal Experiences

PUBLISHED: 5/14/2020

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding “digital transformation,” especially with businesses forced into remote work teams. While it sounds forward-thinking, the issue that arises is that the definition is a bit murky – and when actually defined it seems to vary quite a bit from organization to organization.

Regardless, there is undeniably a heavier shift to digital, which has been undoubtedly expedited by the crisis. With teams no longer working in the same physical office, companies are needing to rethink not only their own operating environments, but how they reach and interact with their audiences digitally as well.

The truth is that the topic of “digital transformation” was a popular one prior to the pandemic – with 70% of companies having a digital shift either in progress or in its final form. However, given our current environment, it’s no longer a question, it’s the answer. Digital-first companies are 64% more likely to achieve their business goals than their peers.

Marketing teams have cited the increase in customer communications as a key challenge during this time, signaling that marketing operations teams are certainly feeling the pressure of a heavier workload more than ever in this digital shift. As marketers continue to look to the horizon, it’s becoming increasingly clear that along with the digital uptick, personalized communications are gaining even more momentum than before the crisis set in. The question now becomes: how do you create the best personalized experience for your customers?

The Digital Frontier and the Rise of Personalization
The massive shift to digital along with the current uptick of emails flooding inboxes as a result of the pandemic have created a pressure to deliver a truly personalized digital experience. That means delivering more specialized communications that speak to customer wants and needs directly. A reported 74% of consumers believe that companies should understand their expectations and needs. If that isn’t enough incentive to better understand your customers, it has also been shown that companies that earn $1 billion per year additionally earn $700 million over the span of three years – all by investing in the customer experience.

However, keep in mind that personalization isn’t simply entering [first name] into an email anymore.

Keep in mind too, the term “personalization” can mean a lot of different things to different organizations. Personalization further than the subject line or greeting requires a lot of data processing from web engagements. To be relevant and truly ‘personalized’ to your audience takes higher-up buy-in on the amount of time and resources required to actually deliver these kinds of campaigns.

Essentially, to actually dive into true personalization requires a sizable commitment. However, as digital processes and interactions become the new norm, it’s becoming more and more important to put authentic personalization into practice. As the consumer experience has evolved, customers don’t just desire a personalized experience…they expect it.

Structure Your Data For Actionable Insight
That brings us to data. As digital personalization takes center stage in customer communication, data should be your guiding light to making informed decisions within your campaigns. While this may sound obvious in nature, an astounding 41% of companies who have invested in digital transformation for their organizations neglected to do thorough customer research in the process. That’s a huge miss, especially considering the sizable investment that shifting to digital means for many organizations. A move to digital should signal a move toward a better customer experience, which isn’t possible without a keen understanding of your audience.

It’s important to start with a data vision. Understanding why you’re collecting specific data points and how the data will be used provides context and meaning. Once you have a foundation in place, you’re better equipped to take action based on the story your data tells.

Your marketing operations team holds the keys to this treasure trove of information for better personalization. Of course, collecting it in a way to make your data actionable is a major component of this as well.

Data can be and is very valuable, but only if it can be contextualized to information. How did your prospect get to your site? What interests have they demonstrated? What vehicle will you use to create a customer profile: email, call-to-actions, social media, web engagement? Using this specific information, you can then leverage a webinar for one person versus an article for another based on their past engagement alone. Even the time of day to send a message can be personalized. But, you have to first collect and interpret the data to get there.

To structure your data collection to gain insights for better personalization, take a strong look at what measurements will provide actionable information, whether that be visits to specific pages within your site, or interaction metrics with email. Put progressive profiling to use, to allow you to gradually gather more information on a lead over time by asking for small, measured details at strategic intervals. With a bit of patience, this will allow you to glean deeper insight on your customers without overwhelming them.

The bottomline: it’s all about identifying what data will actually help you and is needed to drive your business objectives. Center your efforts around data quality, not quantity.

Use Dynamic Segmentation To Hone Personalization
Right now, it’s even more difficult to predict what the next month – or 6 months, for that matter – will look like. Your marketing operations team will need to stay ultra-agile in messaging certain populations as the climate continues to evolve. This is where dynamic segmentation in Marketo can come into play.

Segmentation has already been a mainstay of personalization. The ability to categorize your audience into different groups for more targeted communication is a tremendous tool, but aside from the send lists, your marketing operations team also needs to pay extra attention to the messages delivered if you want real, personalized impact.

As you look to fine-tune your messaging, use segments to refine your areas of reach by geography to potentially limit the outreach to certain countries, or states if you’re operating within the U.S., given the regional aspects of quarantine statuses. Once you have this profile, that data can be added to your segmentations to further triangulate your audience. This will help you not only deliver more deeply personalized communication, but also help keep your organization sensitive and in-tune with the differing realities of specific geographical pockets.

Remember too, segmentation can always help, but it’s first and foremost about the message. If your message falls flat, segmentation won’t help you fix that. Remember who you are reaching, and that you are an interruption to their day, even when warranted. In particular right now, make an effort to be human. Really lean into the uncomfortable situation we are all living, without creating or propagating fear. Let’s focus on hope and the future again.

In the expedited push to digital, marketing teams who are able to harness data and processes to deliver a more personalized customer experience will come out on top. Though the time (and resource) buy-in may be deep, digital personalization efforts will be rewarded over the long-haul.

Need help with personalization efforts within your organization? Struggling with an increase in campaign volume? Talk to us.