Adrienne Cohen

Integrated Marketing Manager

The Road to Personalization: Key Takeaways from IMLS®


At our recent Integrated Marketing Leadership Series (IMLS®) event on Personalization in a Cross-Channel World, we hosted senior-level marketers for a day of dialogue, workshops, and discussion about one-to-one marketing strategies. During the event, we polled 100 marketing leaders about what personalization means to them. The most common terms shared included “relevant” (or “relevance”), “experience”, “timely”, and “want”. As you can see from the word cloud of responses, there’s little consensus on what defines personalization; however, there is alignment around the idea that personalization can help deliver a meaningful, consistent marketing experience down to the preferences of the individual. In fact, several themes at IMLS® touched on how to ultimately achieve that goal. Here are a handful of the event’s key takeaways:

Customer experience is still king.
Regardless of the channel(s) a marketer utilizes, it is important to consider the customer journey as you build a consistent customer experience. A strong cross-channel strategy will take into consideration how, when, and where to deliver your marketing message and how to use micro-moments to reinforce your efforts. Whether you’re focusing on a handful of assets, like your website and email, or looking to achieve consistency across digital channels, in-store experiences, and traditional touchpoints, a cohesive customer experience is essential.

Start small, but start somewhere.
Typically, when industry leaders talk about personalization, the advice is to weave first-party data in with third-party metrics and activate across all the insights you can. In theory, this approach allows you to hone in on your customer and improve the likelihood that your marketing will resonate. However, this is also an immensely complicated task that many brands cannot successfully execute (yet). Instead, think about where you can move the needle and take the opportunity to activate on one data point. Identify a few strong customer behaviors or metrics that you already have or feel confident you can collect. This could be as simple as transaction history or as sophisticated as website engagement. If this information can help you capture customers who are likely to convert, you know where to begin with your personalization strategy.

Bridge the data gap.
Chances are, you actually have more data than you need. However, these data sources are often overwhelming and likely siloed. You’re not going to untangle that web in the short term, but you can begin to talk to your partners about how to bridge the information you’re getting from different sources. What does the data from one channel suggest about your customers? What does it tell you that might inform investment in another channel? When you’re able to integrate your data, you’re able to get closer to an omni-channel personalization strategy that goes beyond traditional business rules into automated, data-driven recommendations.

Recognize the importance of innovation.
That leads us into the last key takeaway: you don’t have to figure personalization out on your own. There are tools and technology that can help you achieve your personalized marketing goals. From machine learning to analytics platforms, there are a slew of ways to make the lift a little bit lighter. As you build a strategy to get closer to one-to-one, find partners that are innovating in this space and creating new opportunities to leverage data to drive results.

Looking back at the word cloud from IMLS®, there is one term that stands out: “want”. As much as personalization is about delivering what your customers want, we know that this highly-relevant approach is what we as marketers ultimately want as well. Scaling marketing campaigns that provide meaningful, relevant offers to the right customer at the right time is called the “holy grail” for a reason. At IMLS®, we learned that most marketers have only scratched the surface when it comes to personalization – as we experiment and innovate, the industry will only continue to grow.

We hope you’ll join us for next year’s event. In the meantime, check out these upcoming industry opportunities.

08/06/2017 at 12:57

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