AI-Powered Personalization — Above Expectation, Beyond Imagination
by Adobe Enterprise Content Team
posted on 09-16-2019
At any moment, anywhere in the world, on any kind of device, a prospect or customer is raising their hand and saying, “I’m your best opportunity. Don’t ignore me.” They’re telling you that by every action they’ve taken and every interaction you’ve had up to that point. You can consider each bit of data you’ve collected across their journey a meaningful expression of intent. And with that, you will know how to give them an experience that’s above their expectations and beyond their imagination.
When you can do that, it’s magical. The flow feels seamless and natural to your customer. These in-the-moment, just-for-them experiences move with them from one touchpoint to another and keep them coming back for more. And as the experiences get better and better, so does the likelihood that they’ll take the action you want. Because every customer wants an amazing experience, and every brand wants to deliver one. It thrills you as a marketer and helps you achieve your business goals.
Amazing means different things to different people — and that’s the point. It’s amazing when your customer wakes up to a breakfast tea blended exclusively for their tastes. When a digital stylist creates a killer outfit that takes into account their preferred colors and looks — and their date’s. When their date can see photos of different shades of blush or lipstick on their face without ever trying them on. When a chatbot not only understands another customer’s frustration over a service issue but can tailor the solution based on their past purchases and known preferences. When a different customer opens her music service and unexpectedly hears a newly released single by their favorite artist.
Transcending human abilities
To achieve experiences this enchanting, something has to make sense of all the customer interactions, all those signals, all that data. And we say some thing must sort it out because it’s impossible for humans to achieve this level of wizardry. You can handle A/B testing to figure out which of two experiences is better for a customer. And you’ve used manual, rules-based or curated content approaches that depend on you to decide who gets which information when.
But with those approaches, you’re simply meeting customer expectations, not going above and beyond. Without automation, you can’t take into account the hundreds of variables that make each one of your millions of customers unique. And yet you want them to opt in, to convert, to hit some kind of benchmark — with you, not your competitors. Still, you struggle to determine which product to recommend, what content to show, how to tailor the experience for that one special person.
3 factors contributing to better conversion: cross-channel support, automated KPIs, and personalization.
Source: Adobe Digital Marketing Survey 2017
It’s not only the scale or even the need for speed that’s challenging. It’s the human biases, assumptions, and traps we fall into that a machine doesn’t. We think in terms of hardcoded personas, of nerd and jock and princess stereotypes, of static traits. Yet each individual is constantly evolving and acting in ways you never anticipated — and might never notice. You cannot accurately predict what your customer will want next. Artificial intelligence can.
By 2020, businesses that use AI and related technologies like machine learning and deep learning to uncover new insights will take $1.2 trillion each year from competitors that don’t.
Cutting the job in half
You need many different technologies in your marketing stack to manage personalization, but AI makes them all work together seamlessly. With the right mix of automation and control, you can take full advantage of all your customer behavior data — online, offline, third-party — while deploying strategies to meet your business goals.
For example, with machine learning, marketers can introduce as many variations as they choose to personalize customer experiences. With the click of a button, a computer can evaluate all behavioral and contextual variables — from demonstrated interests and preferences to current location and likely activity — to pull the right experience for each consumer out of the deck. And instead of being restricted by the variables and traits that you consider important, the machine can use those that it’s learned make a difference in what resonates. It can find correlations you may never imagine. The workings are completely behind the curtain, so your customer knows only that the experience just keeps getting better.
Tapping the crystal ball
A primary focus of AI is predictive analytics — analyzing data and making predictions. At one time, AI was based on human computer programmers painstakingly developing algorithms — step-by-step instructions that tell computers how to do tasks. But machine learning sets computers free to use their sixth sense. When your customer goes to an online market, AI can analyze vast amounts of information and instantly offer suggestions for products based on their browsing and buying habits, and those of people like them. As computers are exposed to more and more data, they can surface connections in the information to develop more precise predictive models without needing specific instructions. As more data comes in, the models are tweaked to make ever-sharper predictions.
For example, chatbots today can use consumer purchase history and known preferences to create lifelike, seamless customer service. Of course, that requires profiles for every customer updated in real time. But even more impressive is an AI application created for a well-known IT company that can predict the reason, the channel, and the product for which an individual will contact customer service next. When an agent answers the phone, they already know why the customer is calling.
Marketers sometimes worry that AI will eventually make them disappear. But never fear—although you lose some control when you let machines take over, you ultimately still call the shots. If the marketing calendar says you promote skiwear in November, then that happens no matter what the algorithm says. But if you’re flexible enough to let the machines do their wizardry, you’ll gain the benefits of their guidance to complement your human intuition and creativity. Then you end up with high-value, high-level control that lets you shape decisions and inform future activities. Risks drop, returns soar, and customers keep coming back.
You ultimately want each of your customers to have an unbelievable experience. That’s how you differentiate your company from the competition. AI helps you deliver those experiences, lets you experiment to improve them, and then ensures that they pay off. That means value for your business — more revenue, more profitability. But success requires analytics that measure cross-channel engagement and the specific metrics that matter to your business, such as conversion rate and dollars per visitor. Personalization must be done purposefully, with intent, in a way that results in an uptick in those key performance indicators. You want people to move deeper into the funnel, watch another movie, add a purchase to their cart, remain loyal to your brand. And you can do that, because personalization creates a loop. From seeing a hand go up to delivering an experience with AI that encourages loyalty to building business value to starting the loop all over again.
“I think that in the future, the customer experience will be even leaner, more intelligent, more purposeful and really truly achieve the needs of the client.…I think that we will be using more artificial intelligence, more insights, machine-based learning, so that we can truly grasp the intent of the customer and the needs that he or she has.”
Head of Group Marketing and Communication Services
Making experiences magical
No two customers are exactly alike. When it comes to attitudes, tastes, and goals, it’s hard — if not impossible — for marketers to anticipate just the right experience at the right time for any individual, let alone all of them. AI and machine learning add speed, depth, and scale to help you deliver the most riveting personalized experiences. And they make each interaction magical when it matters most — the minute a customer raises their hand.
Adobe can help
Adobe Target, powered by Adobe Sensei, provides an AI and machine learning framework to enhance recommendations, improve targeting, optimize experience, and automate delivery of personalized offers. We were named the only Leader in “The Forrester Wave™: Digital Intelligence Platforms, Q2 2017.”
Learn more about how Adobe Target can help you achieve your personalization goals.
Your next steps
Topics: Digital Transformation, Personalization