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The definite guide to omnichannel personalization

The definite guide to omnichannel personalization

With Customer Data Platforms disrupting traditional marketing automation platforms, interest in omnichannel personalization has skyrocketed. Although there is a lot of buzz surrounding this topic, not many people truly understand what it means or how to effectively leverage it for business value and customer experience. This guide aims to clarify the concept and provide guidance.

ARTICLE

The definite guide to omnichannel personalization

With Customer Data Platforms disrupting traditional marketing automation platforms, interest in omnichannel personalization has skyrocketed. Although there is a lot of buzz surrounding this topic, not many people truly understand what it means or how to effectively leverage it for business value and customer experience. This guide aims to clarify the concept and provide guidance.

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Business challenges driving omnichannel personalization

There are number of business challenges that drive the need for omnichannel personalization. These include reaching the customers in different phases of the customer journeys and touchpoints. Lack of relevance and ability to use data cross channels. Not being able to act in real-time respond to customer behavior. Scalability and efficiency when a mix of platforms is used.

CDPs bring new capabilities

Omnichannel personalization is more than just communicating with customers across multiple channels. It also includes: Utilizing data from relevant channels, touchpoints, and platforms to trigger and personalize customer interactions. Profiling customers and triggering interactions based on their behavior, intent, and predictive models, resulting in personalized communication across all relevant channels. Dynamic multi-step campaigns that involve multiple channels, where the response in one channel affects the next step of communication in other channels. Measurement and reporting that considers all interactions with customers across all channels to accurately estimate the impact of specific interactions and the overall effect of communication.

Leveraging omnichannel with a CDP

The fast evolvement of new martech gives us a lot of new opportunities. It is essential to understand what these capabilities are and how to use them. When selecting a CDP for your organization make sure you decide on a platform that support your key requirements. In the implementation phase we recommend a step-by-step approach to bring value as fast as possible to your business casa.
A deep dive into the business challenges 

Most organizations communicate with their customers through various channels, but each channel is typically treated as a separate entity. Additionally, personalization, if in place, is based on limited data from each channel. Customer data is scattered across multiple platforms and is not linked together in a unified view.  

Many organizations struggle with targeted and data-driven customer communication. In fact, many campaigns have limited impact, with non-personalized and segmented email campaigns typically yielding a conversion rate of 0.5-2%, with a real uplift of less than 1% and sometimes close to zero. 

Reach is another challenge for many organizations. The lack of a unified customer view and the inability to personalize communication across all channels limits the number of customers that can be reached. To compensate for low email open rates, organizations need to have reachability through web, mobile app, point of sale, customer care, and paid media for identified customers. 

Creating a relevant customer experience is also a challenge for many organizations. Without a unified customer view and the ability to personalize communication across all channels, interactions with customers will inevitably lack relevance. Additionally, without cross-functional collaboration between teams for each channel, a consistent experience across channels is almost impossible.

 

We often see that lack of real-time capabilities is another challenge

The ability to respond to customer behavior and initiate communication within hours or minutes is critical and leads to 5-10 times higher results compared to traditional campaigns. However, many marketing automation platforms lack real-time capabilities, such as using data from one channel or touchpoint to trigger communication in the same or other channels. 

Companies often struggle with efficiency in setting up and managing. A heavy focus on manual calendar-based communication results in a significant use of resources to create campaigns, with most of the work becoming a sunk cost after the campaign is completed. By shifting focus to trigger-based campaigns, the effort put into creating new interactions will have long-lasting value.

 

Managing campaigns in separate platforms also results in additional work and time-consuming efforts.

By consolidating more of this work in one platform, time can be saved. 

Measuring cross-channel effects is also challenging. When communicating with the same customers through multiple channels simultaneously, it is impossible to measure results in silos. Interactions in one channel inevitably affect results in other channels. By orchestrating communication from one platform and having all campaign response data in the same platform, measuring the impact becomes easier. 

Recent advancements in technology have provided new opportunities for omnichannel personalization that were not previously available. 

New business-driven platforms such as Customer Data Platforms have changed the game by providing faster implementation and putting personalization capabilities in the hands of business users with less involvement from IT and BI teams. CDPs are also equipped with built-in analytic models and cost less than traditional Marketing Automation platforms. 

Personalization engines for websites and mobile apps have also evolved, offering improved personalization, A/B testing and measurement and reporting capabilities. 

The advent of event-based IT architecture has enabled real-time actions based on customer intent and behavior across channels. This type of architecture updates customer data in real-time, triggering communication immediately after a transaction, rather than waiting for a batch update. 

In addition, a cross-functional and agile way of working has emerged, supporting collaboration across teams and channels. Teams are set up to cover key customer interaction contexts, including different phases of the customer journey or life cycle. Each team includes professionals with expertise in each channel, as well as analytics, content and business development resources. The teams are responsible for key KPIs across all channels and touchpoints. 

Together, these advancements enable business users to take control of omnichannel personalization with less dependence on IT.

 

Key elements of omnichannel personalization 

Omnichannel personalization has become a popular topic, but it’s important to have a clear understanding of what it entails.

 

It all starts with data  

The foundation of omnichannel personalization is data. This involves collecting all relevant information from various touchpoints and linking it to create a comprehensive view of the customer. With this information, it’s possible to create personalized communication based on the customer’s behavior and needs.  

Additionally, personalization must occur across all channels, including email, SMS, websites, mobile apps, store/POS, call centers, and paid media. This allows for new types of communication to occur through different channels, rather than being limited to just one or two. For example, personalized calendar campaigns and customer life cycle campaigns, which have traditionally only been possible through email and SMS, can now be run on websites, mobile apps, and paid media. Moreover, in web and mobile apps, personalized calendar campaigns, customer life cycle dialogs, personalized engagement campaigns, and proactive service campaigns can be run for identified customers. Personalized campaigns can also be run in paid media, using not only third-party data but also by acting on visitor behavior in web and app. 

The POS channel can also be used for targeted and personalized communication, with clerks being able to personalize the customer experience through personalized recommendations, discounts, life cycle activities, and engagement dialogs.

 

All types of customer dialogs in all channels

In the past, personalized campaigns such as calendar campaigns, customer life cycle campaigns, and personalized engagement campaigns have been limited to email and SMS. However, with shared data and the ability to reach audiences across multiple channels, these types of campaigns can now also be executed on the website, mobile app, and paid media. Moreover, the ability to act on customer behavior and intent on the web or app is a new opportunity for email and SMS campaigns. 

For customers identified through the web and mobile app, personalized calendar campaigns, customer life cycle dialogs (e.g., onboarding), personalized engagement campaigns (e.g., promoting loyalty program usage), and proactive service campaigns can be run. 

In paid media, personalized calendar campaigns, customer life cycle campaigns, and campaigns that act on visitor behavior in the web and app can be conducted, rather than relying solely on campaigns based on third-party data from external platforms. 

The POS channel provides a new opportunity for targeted and personalized communication. By delivering targeted offers and groups to the POS terminal, the clerk can use the information to provide a personalized experience, including personalized recommendations, discounts, life cycle activities (e.g., onboarding), and personalized engagement dialogs (e.g., updating contact information or promoting opt-in).

 

Transforming from calendar campaigns to trigger-based always-on campaigns 

The conventional method of data-driven communication, which relies heavily on manual calendar campaigns, poses a significant challenge. A lot of resources and costs are expended on one-off communications that have no value after the campaign is over. In contrast, by using trigger-based always-on dialogs, investments in campaigns can drive revenue for an extended period. These campaigns utilize various triggers such as behavioral triggers, act-on-intent triggers, and predictive triggers. Behavioral triggers include changes in shopping patterns such as changes in frequency, purchase of new types of products or visits to new stores. 

Act-on-intent triggered dialogs are usually the most effective type of campaigns. Our experience shows that act-on-intent triggered communication regularly have 5-10X higher uplift. These campaigns are triggered when a customer has shown intent on the website or app to purchase something or to engage with the brand. You can respond in real-time and personalize the interaction in the digital channel and follow up in other channels like email and paid media. Sometimes, these types of campaigns are referred to as channel-triggered campaigns. 

Predictive triggers rely on predictive models that estimate future customer behavior. The most well-known are churn prediction models. Losing a customer is almost impossible to win back. The idea is to take action before the customer is lost. 

For most companies, calendar campaigns will still be part of data-driven communication in the future. However, the number of campaigns can be reduced to save time and resources and to create a better customer experience.

 

Technical capabilities required for omnichannel personalization 

To enable omnichannel personalization, several key technical capabilities are required. These include the ability to gather data from various channels and systems, including both customer and business data. Business data can include product information, store locations, and content data, while customer data can include transaction data, website and mobile app clickstream data, and customer care data. However, GDPR compliance is critical when ingesting customer data into a new platform, so a legal and risk analysis must be conducted beforehand.

Data management capabilities are also necessary to clean and transform the data to support personalization. For instance, aggregated data points such as the number of transactions in the last 30 days can be created. 

Another key capability is profile unification or the creation of a single customer profile. Often, customers have multiple identities in a database, such as membership in a loyalty program, online purchase identity, login IDs for web and mobile apps, and newsletter subscriptions. To have a complete view of each customer, these identities must be merged through identity resolution. This process merges identities with the same email address or name and phone number. 

Additionally, analytic capabilities for customer profiling are necessary to describe customers’ preferences and behaviors, such as customer DNAs, segmentation, predictive models, and customer lifetime value. By doing so, businesses can analyze the customer base and support activation and personalization.

The activation phase comes right after. To enable personalization, target groups are created based on different data types such as analytic models and business rules, and different triggers such as calendar, life cycle, behavioral, act on intent, and predictive triggers can be applied. 

Even if two customers get the same triggered campaign, the communication needs to be personalized. This involves using different analytic models such as business rules, segmentation, and predictive models to determine which personalized experience to offer each customer. This may include offers, content, and product recommendations. 

The positive effects of omnichannel personalization can be seen when a customer dialog uses multiple channels. The ability to orchestrate these multistep dialogs across channels is essential, as well as the ability to be responsive in these dialogs based on how the customer reacts to communication in one step. 

Finally, it is essential to look at the data and conduct an analysis to estimate the results of specific campaigns and the overall impact of the programs. 

 

Business case for omnichannel personalization 

The business case for omnichannel personalization can be summarized into three key levers. The first one is the increase of the number of relevant interactions. By reaching customers through multiple channels and touchpoints, more personalized and data-driven interactions can be created, leading to an increase in uplift, loyalty, and a reduction in churn. The second lever is an increase in uplift. By leveraging more data and improving relevance, the uplift for each interaction will be increased. The third lever is the reduction of costs for campaign management. More automation and trigger-based campaigns always-on can help to reduce costs, as well as managing more channels in one platform if a CDP is used.

 

How to get started

These are some key recommendations on how to approach omnichannel: 

  • Define your objectives and key strategies. Identify the key objectives for your organization, such as increasing cross-sales, reducing churn, improving customer experience in key contexts, or improving collaboration between channel teams. This will help guide the team throughout the project.
  • Define the capabilities you need. Choosing the right platforms to support your omni-personalization journey is crucial. When selecting a customer data platform (CDP), it’s important to understand the various functionalities and integrations available. Avoid selecting a CDP based solely on recommendations and demos, as this can lead to a dead end.
  • Map capabilities to your IT architecture and identify gaps. You’ll need more than just a CDP to support omnichannel personalization, so it’s important to assess your current IT landscape and identify any gaps.
  • Define a business case. To gain approval for a large project, a business case is typically required. Use a bottom-up approach to estimate the number of interactions with customers across channels and touchpoints and calculate the uplift in conversion for each interaction.
  • Build a holistic roadmap. Your roadmap should include all the deliverables necessary to achieve your desired future state, such as resources, competencies, and new processes. Don’t make it solely an IT project without capabilities to use it.
  • Continuous optimization. Don’t assume that no further adjustments or improvements are needed once the project is completed. You should have a foundation to build on, and budget and resources set aside for continuous optimization.
  • Cross-functional collaboration is key. Regardless of how you handle data, analytics, and IT platforms, a cross-functional approach is essential for success. 

  

Success factors for omnichannel personalization 
  • Engage key stakeholders in your organization and educate them on the concept of omnichannel. It can be challenging to get support from business owners who may not fully understand the concept.
  • Keep a business-driven focus and ensure that overall business objectives guide the project. Don’t get bogged down in details and make sure to measure results and deliver value early on.
  • Avoid treating the project as purely a technology initiative. While data integrations and IT platforms are important, success relies heavily on business competence, processes, and cross-functional collaboration.
  • Conduct thorough research before selecting a CDP or other platforms. If you don’t define your requirements before engaging with potential vendors, you may end up with a platform that doesn’t meet your needs.
  • Consider a step-by-step approach instead of a big bang implementation. It can be challenging to know the best setup for your organization before getting started, so starting with easy-to-implement use cases and high-value capabilities and adjusting the strategy based on insights is often the most effective approach.

Conclusion

A CDP brings a lot of new capabilities to your omnichannel strategy. Using this technology, you can do almost all types of customer dialogs in all channels. To master this, key resources in your organization needs to understand what capabilities a CDP brings.  

When selecting a CDP you need to do your homer work. There are many differences between CDP and there is now CDP that fits everybody’s needs. Make sure that you have detailed your requirements before you start to meet with suppliers. Unfortunately, a lot of companies realize that the CPD the just acquired don’t support some key business requirement during the implementation. 

Treat the omnichannel implementation as a business project and not an IT project. Seting up the martech is only a small part of the job to be done. Make sure the business is onboard and that the way of working is adapted to support the omni approach. 

When implementing the new use cases, we strongly recommend a step by step approach. Read more about this in our white paper Scaling up your CDP work. 

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