Personalization at scale

Oct 05, 2023
CX Thought Leadership

Achieving personalization to elevate your customer experiences on a large scale may initially appear contradictory, as it seems challenging for any business to deliver authentic personalized experiences without individual interactions. However, accomplishing this feat is more feasible than one might assume.

What is it?

Personalization at scale is the ability to orchestrate and deliver tailored, customized and contextual customer experiences across touchpoints in real time at greater speed and with more accuracy and efficiency. It is about delivering the right content via a relevant and context-aware channel, at the right time. While many organizations have started to offer tailored experiences to a small number of customers, the challenge lies in scaling those experiences that can service many but feel like they are exclusively made for the few. To offer personalization at scale, the entire organization needs to adopt a customer-centric mindset and provide a conducive ecosystem for implementing personalization at scale. 

At the most basic level, personalization means using what you know about a customer to make interactions more relevant to them. Personalization at scale takes it a step further, where your interactions with customers are relevant to them every time. It means speaking to their interests, preferences, buying habits, and history with the brand no matter when or where they engage.

Personalization initially appears somewhat whimsical, almost like a pleasant add-on to improve connections with consumers or enhance an existing product or service. However, in today's marketing landscape, any seasoned marketer understands that personalization isn't just a nice-to-have feature; it's a vital and fiercely competitive differentiator.

Research from McKinsey has confirmed this shift in consumer expectations, with a substantial 71 per cent of consumers now anticipating personalized interactions from companies. A staggering 76 per cent of them express frustration when they don't receive this level of personalized attention.

Why is it important?

The significance of personalization is indisputable. Where businesses often grapple is in delivering authentic, personalized connections with consumers at scale, while remaining cost-efficient and productive. The challenge becomes more pronounced for large multinational corporations with sprawling operations, as they wonder how they can infuse that elusive personal touch into their interactions with a vast and diverse customer base.

To go beyond this struggle, the conversation must turn to personalization at scale.

A McKinsey study found that personalization at scale has the potential to create between US$1.7 trillion to US$3 trillion in new value.

Personalization at scale isn't just about basic customization. It encompasses a spectrum of strategies, including recommendations, exclusive offers, discounts and more, all converging to provide a fully customized experience that distinguishes your brand from the competition. When executed effectively, personalization at scale can be the powerhouse behind constructing exceptional brand experiences. If mismanaged, it can become an unwieldy burden, disproportionately borne by your marketing team.

To effectively implement personalization at scale, there are several components that should be considered:

1. Breaking down silos

Achieving personalization at scale necessitates an integrated approach that transcends departmental silos. Marketers must not only access and gather data, but also possess the capability to translate data into actionable insights. This entails a shift away from traditional departmental divides, with collaboration among various teams, including marketing, IT, legal and research. Such collaboration is essential for deriving meaningful insights and fostering innovation.

According to Accenture, organizations that have fully reoriented operations, delivery models and technology investment to meet new experience demands grow their year-over-year profitability by at least six times their industry peers.

2. The synergy of data and AI

Data truly comes to life when it is transformed into actionable insights. The role of AI is pivotal in this transformation. Choosing the right AI tools and technology partners is key to making this process manageable and effective. An automated AI system can efficiently manage large-scale personalization tasks. For instance, imagine a new customer receiving 50 different messages across various channels in just two weeks. Manually sorting through this data would be impractical.

AI can analyze the customer's engagement and characteristics, compare them to others, predict their likely journey, and personalize their interactions. However, it's important to avoid data overload, which can lead to analysis paralysis.

“Customer data management remains one of the biggest challenges for marketers because data is so critical for generating customer insights, personalizing experiences, and executing across touchpoints and devices.” Forester Research

3. Embracing “composable content”

For personalization at scale to thrive, content design and dissemination must be modular and adaptable. Think of these components as building blocks, allowing you to construct the right message for each individual, for the right channel. This approach empowers businesses to tailor messages, offers and content to the unique needs and preferences of individual customers, elevating their experience and exceeding their expectations.

Picture this: You're sending a seasonal email to 100,000 customers with the goal of boosting sales and profits. They're all in different stages of their relationship with your brand, and they each want something different. To make this email personal for each of them, think about using 10 different subject lines, 100 special offers and 100 different images.

4. AI-enhanced personalization

AI-driven personalization stands as the catalyst that transforms the user experience in a world teeming with endless choices. Whether in the realm of streaming platforms or ecommerce, recommendation engines have already revolutionized the landscape of commerce. In this transformative journey, AI-powered personalization will serve as the engine propelling business growth across various industries. Businesses must pivot their focus from the technology itself to the outcomes it generates – a shift that is critical for competitiveness as organizations leverage this transformative force.

Today, prioritizing data privacy and adopting ethical AI practices is not merely a choice but a necessity for every company. Building trust and credibility within this new paradigm hinges on these principles. Ultimately, it's not just about acquiring technology; it's about procuring outcomes that enrich customer experiences and drive business expansion in the forthcoming digital era.

Final thoughts

Personalization at scale offers immense opportunities for marketers to create exceptional customer experiences and drive business growth. By leveraging data, analytics and technology, marketers can deliver tailored and relevant interactions to a wide audience.

Overcoming challenges related to data management, trigger identification, organizational alignment, and technology implementation is crucial for successful personalization at scale.

As customers increasingly demand tailored experiences, organizations that prioritize personalization at scale and adapt their internal operating models will gain a competitive advantage and achieve sustainable growth.

When done well, it can elevate your brand's interactions with customers to new heights, as it lets you create brand experiences that resonate deeply. Ultimately, your customers will appreciate the effort, and it will lead to increased loyalty and advocacy for your brand.




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