Why personalisation needs to be data-driven

Effective personalisation is, according to McKinsey, the Holy Grail of marketing. Is this surprising, considering that 73% of customers are more likely to buy from brands that personalise their experience?

Personalisation focuses on tailoring a brand experience to each individual customer, and their specific needs. But getting this right is easier said than done. Indeed, despite the Digital Marketing Association noting that 77% of brands believe real-time personalisation of their marketing is crucial, a whopping 60% still struggle to do it. Why is it that something that is so crucial to modern-day marketing is still not being implemented by over half of the industry?

The main problem lies in the fact that marketer’s aren’t harnessing their data — which is a shame considering the fact that data driven marketing activities can increase sales by 15–20% (McKinsey, 2017).

Customers are dynamic, so why isn’t your data?

Consumers are not predictable, and rarely interact with brands in a predefined way. Rather, they interact with a lot of things in a whole variety of ways — creating a wealth of data points along the way. However, all too often these customer data sources aren’t integrated together, forming silos of disjointed customer records, which consequently leads to an isolated view of the customer. This leads us to the main problem; how are you meant to truly personalise when you only know half of someone’s story? Realistically, you can’t. Companies need to stop relying on rigid customer segments, that are based on arbitrary metrics, and that generalise consumers and instead start looking for the bigger picture. For instance, segmenting customers on the basis of them being male and aged between 18 and 25 does not mean they will all act the same.

Unified data leads to a unified understanding

The key to true personalisation lies in the ability to understand the customer and anticipate their needs — which is only achieved through a centralised source of unified data. Integrating a customers’ various data points enables you to create in-depth profiles about your customers that are enriched by every interaction. In doing so, you are free from trying to prescriptively define your audience based on static data — data that generalises and looks at customers historically — but rather can segment customers based on their ever changing needs and wants.

The Customer Data Platform’s role

The Customer Data Platform is currently being hailed as the gold standard of data integration (McKinsey, 2017) — one that makes sophisticated, successful personalisation possible. A Customer Data Platform has the capability to integrate all customer data, using matching technology, and unify customer profiles across systems. By operationalising data in this way, and by integrating seamlessly with third party marketing optimisation tools across all channels the Customer Data Platform enables marketers to pull highly specific segments of customers, and target them with relevant, personalised information, that is conducive to boosting customer conversions. Furthermore, using a Customer Data Platform creates a feedback loop that sends customer response, engagement and conversion data, from this targeted material, back into the Customer Data Platform to inform future personalisation, leading to customer retention and brand loyalty.