Want to be a Personalization Powerhouse? Start with These 3 Summit-worthy Strategies

Image source: Adobe Stock / blewulis

by Natalie Lacuesta Byrum

posted on 03-15-2018

Remember when, after putting some gadget in your cart, an offer for batteries would mysteriously pop up — and that felt pretty compelling? Or remember the first time you bought running sneakers, and you immediately received recommendations for everything from playlists, to running shorts, to fitness trackers? It was the beginning of something big — something that would revolutionize the way we engage as marketers and consumers. And in what felt like a second, we were on to the next major marketing shift — the shift towards powerful personalization.

Personalization has evolved incredibly over the last decade. Not only has the technology scaled, improved, and enhanced, but consumer expectations have pushed us even further, always seeming a step ahead of our most cutting-edge offerings. Today, customers crave and demand personalization — no one would dispute that. From the minute they saw the batteries and the playlists and the shorts and the fitness trackers, they were hooked — about half say they’ve made unintended purchases simply because brand recommendations were so spot-on.

It’s bigger than batteries

But we as an industry have been pushed to dig deeper than just a simple “you bought, now buy” recommendation. Our job is to surprise, delight, and exceed expectations, so we cannot only engage and activate customers, but create mutually beneficial relationships that promote greater sharing and advocacy. “Personalization leads to loyalty,” writes Forbes. “This is the ‘Holy Grail’ of personalization. Forty-four percent of consumers say they will likely repeat after a personalized shopping experience.” In short, we need to “get” our customers more than ever — in some cases, more than they even “get” themselves.

The big question now: how do we as brands and digital marketers deliver? We can lean on Big Data to deliver real-time relevance in terms of content, recommendations, and overall UX. We can tap a machine partner to take things a step further, anticipating customer needs and automating personalization at scale to deliver relevance in a way human marketers can’t. And yes, we can make even more out of some go-to marketing strategies — user-generated content (UGC) and recommendations, for starters — to create the kind of experiences consumers crave.

But what if we could go further and dig deeper with all of it? That’s the goal, at the end of the day. At Adobe Summit beginning March 27, we’ll unpack these strategies and envelope-pushing next steps with leading-edge partners who are revolutionizing the way we all do business. So what’s on tap, and what should you be focused on from a personalization perspective now? Start here.

#1. The power of automation

Two-thirds of consumers are loyal to brands that tailor the experience to their preferences and needs, yet fewer than 10% of organizations believe they are highly effective at personalization — and that’s a problem.

The combination of smart algorithms, machine learning, and that constant data stream we now have increasing access to enable brands and businesses to deliver next-level customer experiences across all platforms. Connections happen in real-time — in other words, faster than human marketers can deliver — without any natural bias or assumptions. That means you’re delivering experiences that are in-sync and in-step, and often ahead of your customers’ wants and needs before they even realize what they really want. By the way, customers get it. “[C]onsumers want automation,” says the Online Marketing Institute, citing the allure of self-service options.

At Summit, we’ll dig into a great example of this with Swisscom. They were able to successfully scale their personalization strategy, integrating four unique types of machine learning via Adobe Target. They’ll share how they used auto-allocate to zero in on the best phone model image to use on the their product details page. The result? A 37 percent lift in conversion with an image of the silver iPhone over the grey model they’d been showcasing. Chances are, your company has similar areas that, with a personalized tweak or two, could deliver these kinds of massive lifts. Again, more on this at Summit.

#2. Creating high-converting content

Content is often at the center of the personalization conversation. Not surprisingly, consumers expect the content they’re delivered to be completely in-line with their wants, needs, hopes, and dreams — a tall order, even for the most sophisticated brands and businesses.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, companies like T-Mobile are turning the mirror back on the customer, rather than trying to get ahead of these wants and whims. T-Mobile will delve into this process even more at Summit. In short, T-Mobile is harnessing the power of user-generated content (UGC) to maximize the creative resources in their existing arsenal while staying a step ahead of their friends, fans, and followers who want even more, better, and increasingly relevant content.

According to Nielsen, more than nine in 10 consumers trust peer recommendations over every other form of advertising. It turns out that when brands use UGC images, they rack up 25 percent more conversions than professional shots. “This content is gold,” my colleague Gina Casagrande recently wrote. “UGC is authentic. It’s real people talking about — sometimes gushing about — your brand.” And T-Mobile gets it. In fact, UGC anchored their business-critical “switcher” campaign, which tapped into the powerhouse combination of Experience Manager Livefyre and Target to optimize and personalize this valuable content. The result? More customers and more engagement from their existing base — the ultimate win-win.

#3. Let’s not forget about recommendations

All of that said, recommendations are still powerful ways to engage and activate consumers. McKinsey explains, “35 percent of what consumers purchase on Amazon and 75 percent of what they watch on Netflix come from product recommendations…” And they’re not the only ones making the most of these enhanced personalization opportunities. At Summit, the National Bank of Canada will dig in, talking about the ways they leverage Target, data science, and machine learning to deliver personalized recommendations spanning account offers, reward redemptions, and even content and strategy.

Using a single source of truth, the bank supports shared audiences and analytics for their testing and personalization, creating a cohesive, consistent experience that utilizes Adobe Target Recommendations to cultivate and deliver spot-on relevance and one-to-one strategies. It’s something that’s easily replicated across virtually any industry, ensuring the kinds of engaging experiences customers demand — your customers included.

It’s all here and it’s all at Summit. But even if you can’t make the trek to Las Vegas, we’ll be sharing content and updates from the floor to help your business make the most of these critical personalization and optimization opportunities.

Check back — lots more to come on these topics, plus other trends and must-tries taking center stage this month and beyond.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Adobe Summit, Personalization, Community

Products: Target