Data Is Top Dog in Personalization

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One pet insurance company learns that when it comes to personalization, a little data can go a long way.

Tender moments and personal touches are important to most everyone, especially pet lovers. And marketers for pet insurance company Petplan say they recognize that to have a real conversation with their current and potential customers, it needs to start tapping into that fervent emotion.

“Our website visitors were having an OK experience, but it wasn't targeted, individualized, and personalized and that's so important,” says Gerry McGoldrick, chief digital officer for Petplan. “We wanted to layer on…so many more data points. Those data points allow you to become even more personalized, more targeted, more individualized. With data, you're able to get down to that one-to-one conversation.”

McGoldrick says that he and his team set out to collect information on current and potential customers. The data that marketers began to collect would hopefully provide insight into the personal needs of pet lovers who visit the company's site.

“Basically what we wanted to do—even before someone became a customer—was build a meaningful, personal profile,” McGoldrick says. “Some of the information that allowed us to do that was geography, breeds, condition info, and content consumed on the site. We could then take this and personalize a person's entire experience—just with some extra data.”

So with tools from data insight platform BlueConic, marketers for Petplan began collecting a library of info with the goal of creating and then delivering personalized content. “We spend a lot of time as marketers trying to understand our audience,” says Dan Gilmartin, CMO of BlueConic. “And if we understand them well…we'll be able to educate users on relevant products, and it gives us the ability to speak to the user when they come back [to the site] and then deliver a better experience. Those are the experiences that are going to win.”

Petplan now personalizes visits through several methods, including displaying content that is similar to what a user read on a previous visit. That's in addition to elements that were already personalized like pet insurance quotes.

McGoldrick says that the goal is to personalize—every time. And he says that the idea is not to be a pet insurance company but a strong source of information.

“When you do this, you're getting down to that one-to-one conversation that people really like and appreciate,” he says. “People really like to think ‘Hey. They understand me; they know me; they care about me.' That's what makes them choose one over another. We've taken the time to get to know them and apply what we know about them to their experiences.”

McGoldrick says that same data used to personalize Petplan's website for each user can also be used on different channels; and it also has prompted marketers at the company to rev up their data-based strategies, a result he insists can be a game-changer for any company.

“We see this as an opportunity to improve the overall customer experience—to deliver,” McGoldrick says. “Data-driven marketing isn't necessarily new, but it is the future. I encourage all marketers to take it on.”

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