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November 29, 2023

How modern data platforms can unlock hyper-personalization

Customizing the future: To boost sales and drive growth, it’s time to get personal.

Whether it’s a coupon for a midnight delivery from a favorite restaurant, or a financing offer on the specific car you’ve been salivating over, hyper-personalized offers that meet a customer’s preferences at the right moment are a vital tool in this age of diminished brand loyalty and ever-shrinking attention spans.

There’s a problem, though. Hyper-personalized experiences, by definition, require businesses to understand their customers on a hyper-personalized basis—literally to know them as individuals. Not only that, but messages tailored to individual customers need to be delivered to those customers individually, not plastered on a billboard or fired off by mass email.

The solution to these challenges of design and distribution? Modern customer-data platforms, which can integrate data sets and assemble content in real time, then automate the process of distribution to ensure the right customer sees the right offer at the right time.

Seeing customers in 3D

Here in the digital age, a shortage of customer data is an increasingly rare problem. For many if not most modern businesses, indeed, the more pressing challenge is overabundance: harnessing and making sense of the great tides of data that define the modern enterprise landscape. This is where modern customer data platforms (CDPs) excel. By eliminating data “silos” and consolidating relevant data in one place, a modern CDP lets marketing teams:

  • Unify customer profiles and create 360-degree views. The CDP collects data from all sources—websites, mobile apps, CRM systems, kiosks, etc.—and integrates these into a comprehensive profile of each customer. The profile becomes the foundation for one-to-one personalization.

  • Activate customer segments. The CDP enables marketers to group customers into business-specific segments. These segments can then be targeted with out-of-the-box activation capabilities that personalize customer experience across the whole range of marketing channels.

  • Define content and offers. The CDP presents marketers with next-best actions based on the unified profiles, AI and other analytics. These predictive recommendations, which are based on customers’ historic data as well as in-the-moment actions, are key to the personalized brand experience.

  • Orchestrate customer journeys. Working in real time, the CDP can guide a customer’s journey across channels and touchpoints. In the background, the platform simulates a customer’s response to various next-best-offers in real time, then recommends relevant products based on their anticipated purchasing behavior.

Best of all, this can happen at scale. When we worked with a leading health and beauty retailer to implement a customer data platform, it guided more than 50 million users on different journeys based on their web interactions, loyalty opt-in, historic brand purchases and different predictive scores. Marketers also use the CDP—specifically its well-trained data science model—to target customers with product replenishment offers. The model helps the client connect with users before the product reaches the re-order point, then presents the right offers to ensure the journey leads to successful repeat purchase.

Best practices for creating hyper-personalized experiences

Ensuring that the CDP delivers personalized offers and recommendations that are appropriate requires the marketing organization to plan and strategize appropriately. The following are some best practices for achieving that outcome.

  • Align your personalization goals to your brand’s purpose. A customer’s “experience” encompasses every interaction they have with your brand, from the moment they first hear about it to the moment they make a purchase. Each of these interactions is another chance to further your brand’s larger objective.

    For example, we developed a personalization strategy for a leading beauty and skincare retailer whose brand purpose is to remain their customers’ first choice for health and beauty products and services. To further this goal, we enabled the retailer to use its CDP to engage with customers continuously, at every touch point, and to deliver consistent messages across products, services and marketing channels (website, mobile app, social, paid media, email, SMS, push, in-app, inbox, direct mail). By providing next-best-based experiences in real-time, the retailer saw improved customer stickiness and 75% repeat business in addition to conversion of new leads.

  • Create an integrated content, technology and data strategy that supports your personalization goals. The three components—content, data and technology—must work in concert to put the right message in front of the right customer at the optimal time to drive a purchase or increase engagement:

    • Content. Leverage cutting-edge content-solution constructs like headless, composable and generative AI to help create contextual messages, images and videos in real time.

    • Technology. The technology foundation for hyper-personalization should be an agile, composable architecture using a modern content management platform that supports re-purposing content fragments across channels.

    • Data. The third leg of this integrated strategy is to have the CDP work in real time to target the right audience with the relevant content and offers. The platform also provides robust data governance to ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and restrictions governing the use of customer data.
  • Focus on first-party data sources. For maximum effectiveness, the customer data platform needs accurate, reliable and insightful data—i.e., the type of data that comes from leads, opportunities, emails, partners, e-commerce transactions, loyalty platforms, etc. When we worked with the health and beauty retailer, mentioned above we helped the marketing team enrich customer profiles using first-party data from the company’s mobile app, website, CRM, master data management system, etc.

  • Use experimentation and hypothesis-based approaches to evolve the platform. We recommend using voice of customer surveys to gather feedback for the platform usage. Tools like A/B testing, multivariate testing, analytics and others should form the foundation of an experimentation and hypothesis/KPI-based approach in evolving the feature sets of the platform for better personalization on an ongoing basis. For example, we set up the customer experience platform for a global hotel chain, and we continue to evolve the platform using the above approach. This has led to a significant increase in customer engagement and conversion for their hotel bookings.

Putting it all together

Many companies already collect a great deal of customer data that could be used to engage customers and prompt them to buy. But assembling the customer profiles, orchestrating journeys and delivering customized content at key touchpoints is virtually impossible to achieve without orchestration and a customer data platform that’s up to the task. That was the case for a leading U.S. retailer we worked with, which had collected data on millions of its customers from a variety of channels. By strategizing and implementing a modern CDP, we helped the client raise its coupon redemption rate by 15% and cart conversions by 2X. The customer data platform ingests batch and real-time data, creating 360-degree real-time views of more than 22 million customer profiles. The platform orchestrates customer journeys and delivers hyper-personalized offers to customers across all channels.

Customer data is one of the most valuable assets companies have. What they do with that data—how and whether they can use it to anticipate and meet customer needs and desires—is increasingly the basis on which businesses compete.

Customers will come to expect, and reward, hyper-personal offers from brands supported by customer data platforms. That makes hyper-personalization the right competitive advantage at the right time for companies that want to capture, retain and grow market share.

For more information on customer data platforms and how to achieve hyper-personalized experiences, visit the
Enterprise Platform Services section of our website or contact us.

Debarshi Datta

Associate Director, Cognizant Netcentric

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Debarshi Datta is an experienced leader in business development, pre-sales, strategy, consulting and research in the digital customer experience domain focusing on Adobe Experience Cloud based solutions in Cognizant.

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