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Jan 20, 2020

Clear the Hurdles for a Personalized Customer Experience

Providing a hyper-personalized experience for the always-on, continuously connected consumer across the complete customer lifecycle is the holy grail for a modern marketer. But a seemingly endless number of channels and touchpoints, multiple shared devices, and the customer expectation for immediacy present personalization challenges that are often beyond the capabilities of all but the most sophisticated marketing technology solutions.

Personalization is too important to let these challenges go unchecked. Consider the Harris Poll survey sponsored by Redpoint, where 63 percent of consumers said that personalization is now a standard service they expect, and 37 percent said they will stop doing business with a company that fails to offer personalization. Further, asked to define what personalization means to them, 43 percent of consumers said that it means a brand knows they are the same customer across all touchpoints – email, in-store, mobile, social media, etc.

With few exceptions, today’s “marketing clouds” (a common reference to SaaS solutions hosted by a third party for marketing purposes) are not constituted to deliver the type of personalized customer experience that is in line with consumer expectations. This blog series will explore in depth four primary areas where traditional marketing clouds fall short in providing a data-driven personalized experience in the context and cadence of a unique customer journey.

Siloed Data and Personalization, Oil and Vinegar

For the most part, modern marketers are on board with recognizing the importance of integrated customer data for a personalized customer experience. But while most customer engagement technology will offer the promise of a single customer view, it’s important to understand what this promise really entails.

To begin, data unification does not necessarily mean that fragmentation of the data layer is eliminated. There are, for example, many well-known marketing clouds with multiple cloud technologies that lay claim to providing a unified data view, but a closer look reveals that this is accomplished not by having data in a single solution, but by moving data to various infrastructures.

Having separate e-commerce, sales and service, and marketing clouds, as well as other potential siloes in web apps, mobile apps, IoT data, and other information cannot truly be called data unification just because they fall under the same cloud umbrella.

Providing a personalized experience in real time across an omnichannel customer journey requires a unified data layer marked by low latency, precision depth, and real-time access to updated core customer data as well as operational data such as transactional and behavioral information, metadata, and campaign information.

Keep Up with the Cadence of the Customer

Infusing real-time capabilities throughout the data layer is a key function for preserving a cadence that is critical for delivering a personalized experience. The sticking point for many marketing clouds is that individual data sets from separate cloud technologies will have individual sets of cadences and views; moving data across those views serves as a roadblock to a real-time cadence typical of a customer journey.

Real-time data processing is a key capability of an enterprise-grade customer data platform (CDP). Moving at the speed of the customer requires real-time capabilities throughout the data lifecycle, which requires real time at the data layer, at the analytics layer, and at the orchestration layer. Combining events-based data that is updated in real time with slower moving data without losing accuracy or cadence is a key function for moving at the speed of the customer.

Resolve Customer Identity

Advanced identity resolution is another common failing of a traditional marketing cloud. Some marketing clouds may claim to offer identity resolution, but matching customer data records for known customers across multiple cloud infrastructures is vastly different – and inferior – to deciphering often imperfect identities encompassing bits of online and offline, or known and unknown identifiers.

A true single customer view, in other words, entails far more than unifying customer records across multiple cloud infrastructures. Advanced identity resolution that is required to deliver personalized interactions across all touchpoints of an unknown-to-known customer journey also means deciphering customers across shared devices, shared IP addresses, or multiple devices that may represent the same person.

Control of the Security perimeter

Last but not least among the limitations of traditional marketing clouds for personalization of the customer experience is the fact that most ask the enterprise to cede control of the security perimeter in exchange for putting customer data in their cloud environment. While a personalized customer experience is important, so too is safeguarding customer data – as a host of data privacy regulations make clear.

In addition, the convenience of a public cloud is becoming less of a selling point for the enterprise because it locks companies into pre-defined functionality and prevents changes to a data model, which can be roadblocks to creating innovative customer engagement strategies.

Marketing cloud vendors claim that high levels of trust mitigate concerns over yielding control of the security perimeter. Even if true – and of course there is no absolute guarantee – the problem as it pertains to customer engagement is that ceding control of the perimeter also gives up some control over how the data is used, where it is used, and levels of access, which are all important for delivering a personalized experience that customers crave.

The Multiple Layers of “Single Customer View”

In summary, an enterprise-grade CDP does far more than provide a single view of the customer. In the coming weeks, we will use this space to explore in greater detail how the Redpoint platform unifies data to create a complete golden record, with real-time cadence, built-in tools for advanced identity resolution, and operation inside of an enterprise cloud security perimeter. It is encouraging that more and more marketing clouds recognize the importance of a single customer view to ultimately deliver personalization, but there is a lot more than meets the eye for delivering a real-time personalized customer experience that drives revenue.

Steve Zisk 2022 Scaled

Steve Zisk

Product Marketing Principal Redpoint Global

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