Last week we hosted a Personalization Roundtable. We brought together a small group of marketers from some of today’s leading brands to talk about trends and challenges around personalization and data.
We wanted to facilitate an in-depth discussion about what personalization means to you as a consumer, to your business and brand, and how you put it into action. There was a lot of great dialogue, but one comment really stuck with me.
A Senior Manager said that when it comes to personalization strategy and program development, “We’re 5 years ahead, but the technology is 8 years behind.”
Immediately, I thought: What are you talking about? We have the technology to make all of this possible today! But then, like any good marketer, I asked myself what she meant.
The thing is, the technology exists. But it’s not always actionable. That’s the problem. Maybe your data is too fragmented. Or system integration is too challenging. Or maybe your internal processes don’t have the flexibility right now to completely support it. There are plenty of barriers to entry, and I bet you’ve already come up with a list of your own.
So the question is: How do we make personalization actionable? I believe the answer lies within the jackhammer that’s loudly ripping up my driveway at the moment.
Eight years ago, we sunk every penny we had into a fixer-upper – and not just a needs-a-fresh-coat-of-paint fixer-upper. We couldn’t afford to replace everything at once so instead we went project by project, room by room. We started with the areas that had the most impact on our daily life (i.e. the master bedroom and bathroom) and slowly worked our way through the rest of the house. Today, we’re on our final project: replacing our driveway and walkway. And looking back, our house has come together perfectly–exactly how we envisioned it.
You can apply this same approach to personalization. Start where you can and work toward the vision of where you want to be.
While your data might be difficult and fragmented, there are small pockets of good data that exist within your organization. Find those pockets and start deploying a personalization strategy from there. As our technology and processes evolve, data will improve and become easier to work with. The same is true with system integration, and every other challenge we face.
We are on the cusp of a new era of brand-consumer relationships. Today’s personalization strategies are just the beginning. So continue to think big and define your vision, but start small – with the areas that have the biggest impact or the highest chance of success.