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American Marketing Association Philadelphia - Answers in Action™

Driving Revenue Through Relevance

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Oracle’s recent acquisition of Maxymiser is a very smart move as it continues to build out its marketing cloud to compete with the likes of Adobe and Salesforce. Just as significant, this is part of its broader strategy to assemble the tools required to optimize the customer journey as the battle to influence buying decisions gets even more heated.

Oracle gains Maxymiser’s cloud-based platform to test, target and personalize what a user sees on a Web page or mobile app. The end game is a highly optimized customer experience.

So why does this matter so much? It comes down to relevance. Boxever, a Dublin-based marketing research firm, recently surveyed 500 online shoppers. Almost two-thirds (60%) report that they receive six or more retail sales and mobile offers daily, and half of these shoppers say that three of four are irrelevant. Even worse, 40% say that irrelevance will negatively influence the likelihood of future buying.

That’s what makes a recent VentureBeat report, “Marketing Personalization: Maximizing Relevance and Revenue,” so timely. The research sheds light on what marketers are doing to target and personalize engagement, what’s at stake and why it’s so important to employ real-time behavioral data. 

In this survey of more than 500 marketers, VentureBeat found that between 70 and 94% of respondents report that they are achieving better results from personalization based on upticks in metrics like e-mail open rates, app installs, website visits and return visits, downloads of items like white papers, and ad click-throughs. That’s the good news. On the other side of the ledger, the two basic requirements for personalization are largely lacking, according to the study, and this is, no doubt, the reason why we are still in the early days when it comes to one-on-one marketing:

Data collection: 80% of customer-facing companies do not understand their customers beyond basic demographics and purchase history.

Data unification: 96% of marketers say that building a comprehensive view of the customer is challenging.

The latter data point is also consistent with my recent conversation with Gartner during which the research firm told me that “how to stitch together a single view of the customer” is now one of the main questions that Gartner receives from its enterprise customers.

Companies embark on efforts to personalize marketing for various reasons, but the VentureBeat study cited the top goal as “reach more prospects” (38%). Where marketers actually use personalization in the marketing/sales funnel, however, is a different matter.

While marketers say that they want to use personalization to reach prospects, the research shows that efforts aren’t focused at the top of the marketing funnel where you might expect to find them. Rather, personalization efforts are dispersed throughout the marketing/sales funnel, with the area most cited as “educating prospects and moving them to leads” (32%). Basically, most companies in the survey begin personalization activities with known prospects or customers, and e-mail is still the predominant way that messages are delivered. In other words, while there is great progress, we still have a ways to go! 

It’s All in the Data

This research gives us a good picture of both the importance of personalized marketing and its challenges. The ability to collect and integrate data from many sources—at a granular user level—underlies these capabilities. Real-time behavioral data is key. That’s the information that lets you decipher what consumers like and don’t like, as well as where, how and what they buy. That’s why I recommend investing in a marketing platform that can help you collect and unify data from every step of the journey—wherever it may take place—and enable you to act on these rich omnichannel profiles, in real time, to deliver highly relevant, personalized experiences.

1. Collect data from offline, off-site and online sources. In the digital world, you need to automate the collection and integration of valuable, first-party digital data across all digital platforms, including native mobile apps. But strategies that rely on personalization at the level of the individual also require the collection and integration of information about the customer from off-site interactions on paid or earned media, as well as offline sources, including CRM, call centers and voice-of-the-customer surveys.

2. Own that data forever. Personalization requires a new approach to data ownership. Too much digital data is held behind proprietary firewalls of third-party vendors. You need to own your first-party data as a key step in building the capability to do one-to-one marketing. And remember, you can still use this owned data in third-party audience data networks, including data management platforms, data aggregators and demand-side platforms.

3. Create profiles using a master data layer. Marketing technology now enables you to create profiles of your customers and then continuously enrich them in real time for improved marketing outreach. It’s now possible to recognize your visitors across channels and domains, and start stitching together a single view of your customers as they continue to engage with your brand.

The mandate to deliver relevance has never been higher. As we inch closer to the nirvana of delivering the right message to the right customer on the right device at the right time, how to get more personal has, indeed, become the core marketing obsession of our time.

Pelin Thorogood is chief strategy officer at San Jose, Calif.-based omnichannel data and tag management provider Ensighten, and CEO of Anametrix, an Ensighten company. Follow her on Twitter: @PelinT.

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