Data + Experience

Personalized, data-driven experiences and content are the new standard of customer expectations. These experiences deliver the right content in the right place at the right time in the user journey to influence behavior. From our work across many industries (retail, financial, media, health, education) we’ve seen what’s effective and scalable for leading, innovative brands. Here are four areas to consider to get the most out of your personalization efforts.

Insights & AI

Data without insights isn’t actionable – which is why Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) solutions are growing so dramatically. For those not deep into the AI world, think of it as an insights engine that scours multiple databases for user behavior patterns. One the best firms delivering customized experiences based on AI is Spotify. Among the major music streaming players, Spotify is typically at the top when it comes to a well-designed, easy to use user interface, outclassing Apple, Google, Amazon, Pandora and the rest. The UI is enough to hook users, especially given a best-in-class set of apps that seamlessly integrate across hardware and platforms, giving the user control over where and when they engage in their discovery journey (think of starting on your phone, casting to a stereo or Echo, and picking up in your car.

However, the real magic behind the scenes is Spotify’s AI engine which analyzes in real time the tastes and preferences of its users (a space once dominated by Pandora). Many users come for the UI/UX but stay for the personalized “discovery” recommendations that provide curated playlists and new music recommendations that actually hit the mark. It’s a great example of Data + Experience making a relationship sticky.

It’s All About the Journey

Speaking of music, Crutchfield has excelled at creating a data-led path to purchase for audiophiles and average Joe’s, alike. First, they get the basic “blocking and tackling” right – great site, easy signup, not-too-often-to-be-annoying CRM (email) follow up, plus a bit of search/display retargeting based on web or on-site searches. So far so good. Second, they leverage the user activity insights and purchase history to provide customized product suggestions across channels. Finally, they put the cherry on top by providing instant access via chat or call to experts that are armed with your data and their own expertise to help select just the right pair of headphones or speakers. The combined effect is akin to talking with your local rep at Stereo City, someone who knows you and that you trust won’t just try to sell the gear with the biggest commission.

Mind The Gap

Beware of the dark side (or at least the potential to make mistakes based on oversimplification). Microsoft recently published a great piece on the potential for bias in AI. And with AI (or a basic set of marketing automation rules) as the connecting glue between data and experiences, it’s a potentially big deal. Try an experiment – sit with a colleague and search for the same item on the same browser on a mobile device. There’s a good chance you’re going to receive different results based on browsing history alone. Add in advertiser and media algorithms and it gets complicated. Do a similar search for a product on Walmart or another major retailer – again, your results, content, and overall experiences can differ dramatically. It’s a double-edged sword – deliver content to broad consumer groups based on high level segmentation and you miss the optimization and conversion that personalization can provide; but customize individually without a true understanding of the customer journey and you risk annoying, alienating, or just flat out missing your target.

Always On Experience

Modern marketing is now an “always on” machine. Data Insights are the gasoline, Personalized Experiences the engine. But where’s the car? Systems can provide the data and analytics, and many CMO’s/CDO’s are in a Marketing Technology arms race. But who delivers the personalized creative experiences?

Even the smartest machines still can’t figure out “creative” – the human ability to translate all those data insights into content that will truly connect with a user, a human being. It’s similar to translating a language – machines can do the muscle work now, but the art of conveying and interpreting meaning in visual + verbal expression isn’t going away anytime soon (and hopefully never). We need to move beyond the ad campaign construct to building real capability to deliver a valuable experience based on where the data is pointing. Doing so at scale is still a foundational hurdle for most big advertising and media agencies. The future lies in a mix of internal digital teams with access to and support from a global talent pool to keep the always on machine running at full speed with experiences that matter – for the company/brand/product and the user.

Zemoga’s teams of creative technologists around the world have been helping clients drive innovation and deliver amazing digital experiences and content at scale for over 15 years. If you’d like to learn more about our proven approach, please reach out.