Is Hyperpersonalization Creepy or Crucial?

Keeping up with cutting edge marketing trends such as “hyperpersonalization” is an imperative for successful companies. The reasons why may be clear, but the path to implementation…not so much.

These and other challenges were on the minds of participants at the Domo-sponsored Lunch and Learn session, “Hyperpersonalization: Creepy or Crucial?”, which took place during DMN‘s 2016 Marketing & Tech Innovation Summit. The group consensus: it’s crucial, but there are obstacles to doing it well, or at all. Not surprisingly, themes emerged around related issues, such as silos, “dirty” data, who owns the data, linking data, and even who pays for the implementation. Overall, participants were keen to learn more from each other about how to get hyperpersonalization off and running.

David Johnson, senior sales consultant with Domo Inc., guided the discussion to explore the status of hyperpersonalization initiatives in the attendees’ companies.

Participants represented a cross-section of companies at various levels of hyperpersonalization implementation:

  • Courtney Andriunas, senior marketing professional, T-Mobile
  • Jose Cebrian, VPand GM of email and mobile messaging, Merkle
  • Alicia Delk, management supervisor, Wunderman Seattle
  • Amy Good, adaptive media investments and technology manager, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company
  • Katy Lee, digital marketing specialist, IKEA USA
  • Ronel Uys, director of marketing and corporate communications at Dahill, a Xerox company
  • Devon Valenti, director of marketing, ALK Technologies
  • Jay Wilson, VP, omnichannel platforms and marketing technology, Healthgrades

Here, a view into three key topic areas that surfaced during the discussion.

Biggest challenges

Wilson: In our industry it’s HIPPA, and sensitivity to personal information. Our challenge is how to balance privacy with personalization.

Valenti: We’re concerned with whether the sales team is putting accurate information into our [CRM] system.

Uys: Our internal IT systems can create a monster when trying to customize outputs. Clean data is also an issue for us. 

Andriunas: We have a plethora of vendors working with tiny teams, so our concern is with dirty data, as well. We think about the data confidence – where does it live? How does it get from A to B to C? How do we make sure we’re not poking the client? We’re trying to balance [implementation] speed with challenges that slow you down.

Cebrian: Marketers aren’t putting enough emphasis on how hyperpersonalization is leveraged. There has to be a nuance, and that’s where some things can go wrong. You get different people who optimize a channel [differently], so coordinating a message becomes a challenge.

Good: We have to break the silos between marketing and creative, but who’s to be the “therapist”? Is that a client leadership objective? [The opportunity] is all there waiting for us, but change is hard.

Wilson: Silos are a real problem with us, too. For example, with a travel industry client, you’ve got the silos of e-commerce, booked guests, and sales. So, who’s carrying the football? Ultimately, the answer is, we need to move faster than others, so that everyone else can follow us.

Uys: We’ve started internally to break down silos. Our biggest ones are CMS, HR, and ERP. Internally, we looked for commonalities among the groups. Using agile development allowed us to see successes. We started with ERP, because we know that that data has to be right. We also need detailed activities from sales for the hyperpersonalization, [but there was some push back].

Lee: We need to be careful with hyperpersonalization because our customers would complain. They’d say: “You were never a brand to do this.” So we’re walking there; this way it doesn’t seem so obvious. We’re easing customers into it online by sending them to a broader category now, instead of a hyperpersonalized suggestion.

Looking at our pain points, the number one complaint [about hyperpersonalization] is the technology. My suggestion was to implement a project management system. We launched it last fall, and we went from a group of five to now 60. Hyperpersonalization has to [come] from who you are [as a brand]. You have to consider if the brand grew from the digital.

Delk: We need to show ROI right away. We’re trying to get our in-house team to create what we need. And we need to have buy-in from development and the C-team.

Good: It’s a bigger picture than just doing the creative; for example, hyperpersonalization can impact brand safety.

B2B versus B2C

Andriunas: Do you think there are different expectations for B2B versus B2C?

Johnson: Hyperpersonalization seems more acceptable on the B2B side.

Uys: But it’s a little harder to [personalize] B2B communications than B2C [messaging].

Wilson: The challenge is in the context. With B2B, the bar is higher. It’s not the same as friendly consumer personalization – [customers] expect you to know what you’re talking about.

Uys: Yes, and [it’s audience specific] – if I’m sending information to the CFO, he’s not interested in the technical aspects of our printers.

Johnson: I agree. With B2B, you have the account aspect in addition to the demographic.

Cebrian: But B2B data is imprecise. The ecosystem is getting better, but it’s not as good as in the consumer world.

Andriunas: In the past year or two our company has started to realize the potential of hyperpersonalization and put resources there. A handful of us are being tapped into now.

Valenti: We’re working harder to learn about mixed messaging to different audiences.

Three- to six-month goals

Cebrian: My team has several different platforms and a project management tool. We’re trying to bring all this data together and standardize reporting.

Lee: We’re just trying to collect ourselves and look at who owns the data and security concerns. We can’t always get the data. Because [our parent company] owns the back end, it’s a barrier. So we’re pushed to do other things, like creating microsites to own our own data. 

Wilson: We’re trying to do a rapid digital transformation. Our vision is omnichannel consumer communication.

Good: We’re looking into the marriage of creative and marketing [in terms of implementation]. Again, we are challenged with how to trust the data.

Uys: A year ago we dropped the name Xerox – it was a big gamble. The rebranding made me want to stop the data process [because] with so much information, unless you have a purpose to do something with it, it means nothing.

Delk: I agree. There needs to be tools to help the team embrace [personalization], to understand what to do with so much data.

Johnson: We found that with technology implementation, starting with the data is overwhelming. So we’ve switched to start with the business questions, without bringing the data into the conversation.

Andriunas: Our industry is so quick, we need to explore and enable new channels. It needs to be done in a quick but smart manner to respond to the market challenges. It is so competitive.

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