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How Marketers Can Influence Buyer Decisions Through Real-Time Personalization

  • Written by Peter Micciche, Certain
  • Published in Demanding Views

1aPeterMicchicheToday’s businesses are drowning in customer data. They’re collecting a near-infinite amount of information from more communication channels and touchpoints than ever before. So, from the customer’s perspective, companies should know who they are and how to best serve them. Even with more opportunities to collect data, the problem of inconsistent, irrelevant or delayed messages from brands persists—leading to frustrated customers.

One recent survey showed that overall, respondents felt that ads today are more intrusive and prevalent and not to their preferences. As people lose patience for impersonal interactions, marketers are  responsible for figuring out how to use data to serve the right content at the right moment—or risk permanently damaging customer loyalty. 

Real-time personalization, automatically tailoring ads and promotions to the viewer based on whatever information you have about them is the key to success. In a recent study by Adobe and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), 77% of marketers said they believe real-time personalization is crucial to marketing effectiveness and customer retention. But 60% admitted to difficulties implementing it for their campaigns.

Here are three best practices that can get all the data in your organization working for you and your buyers:

1. Merge Data Silos To Show A Full Customer Picture

From social media to live events to email and other web-based platforms that customers use to interact with brands, rich customer data floods into organizations from all directions. But that data often sits in siloed systems across different departments. Without access to synchronized data, your company could well be spamming the same customer with communications from multiple directions, or you could be missing the signs of an interested buyer.

If this is your case, you must break away from point solutions, smash down data silos and invest in automation solutions that populate data from all customer interactions into a central marketing automation system that gives you a 360-degree customer view. From here, you can deliver fully customized and strategic marketing interactions that will increase brand engagement and sales.

2. Understand Which Insights Matter

Too often, marketers categorize buyers by demographic or other broad segmentations. But every customer is on a unique journey with a brand. In order to nurture individual relationships - and uncover what customers want before they even know it - you must capture and accurately read buyer signals.

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At live events, for example, many marketers routinely capture what they believe is enough attendee data in the seven-field registration form, such as contact information and job role. Yes, that’s enough to drop a customer into a generic drip campaign, but that won’t yield good results. Masterful marketers collect data about the customer’s experience during an event journey, from booths they visited, sales reps they engaged with and sessions they attended. The cumulation of these buying signals gives you precision data and eliminates any guesswork around what the customer is looking for and how best to serve them.

When in doubt, try first and foremost to understand intent. Find out what they want, then give it to them.

3. Employ The Right Tech & Processes To Leverage Insights In Real Time

Data is either real-time or aging rapidly. If you collect illuminating data about your customers at a trade show, but can only use it days afterwards, customer follow-ups lose relevancy and value. Having the right automation technology in place is how you can trigger compelling, real-time targeting that manual processes would never make possible.

At CA Technologies’ CA World, from check-in to the final keynote, buyers’ interactions are captured, likely buyers are qualified and marketers fire off personalized campaigns in real-time through an event automation system that’s synched with CA Technologies’ marketing automation system. The result plays out in the team advancing pipeline and upsell/cross-sell business at scale.

One thing’s for sure: the customer is in the driver’s seat today. As people get savvier about spotting generic, transactional communications and more resistant to this type of interaction from brands, marketers have to learn how to strategically engage customers. Being able to map communications to each customer’s journey requires guidance from data insights. Developing the right data strategies and getting a helping hand from automation technology will help you achieve success at scale.


Peter Micciche is the CEO of Certain, and has led the Company’s drive to deliver measurable results to enterprise marketers from events. Previously, he was CEO of Native Minds (acquired by Verity); CEO of Kinecta (acquired by Stellent); President, Cognos Corp (acquired by IBM) and SVP Sales Americas for Nuance. Peter’s earlier career included sales and sales executive roles at GE Software.