The marketing model has evolved over recent years in line with technological advances. Historically, the measure of a successful campaign has often been the number of leads generated. As the capability of systems and solutions has evolved, however, this has enabled better use of data and resulted in the emergence of personalised marketing. Businesses can achieve this through behavioural analytics; journey visualisation and voice of the customer technologies to understand and map an individual’s customer journey before intervening in a timely way when a prospect faces a challenge or opportunity.
The approach helps marketing define where it focuses its investment: to generate marketing assets or campaigns, for example, helping to increase the velocity of pipeline conversion.
A recent survey by Evergage and Researchscape International found that marketers see the value of personalisation. 99% of marketing professionals polled for the survey said that personalisation helps advance customer relationships, with 78% claiming it has a “strong” or “extremely strong” impact. And 92% state that their customers and prospects expect a personalised experience (up from 85% last year).
Yet, the advantages of personalisation extend far beyond marketing itself, notably including sales, customer service, and product development. Cognisant of these far-reaching benefits, marketing departments are increasingly educating the wider business about what can be achieved: from higher sales conversion rates to enhanced customer engagement.
Educating the business
If the above benefits are to be fully realised, it is key that the marketing department communicates the benefits of personalisation enterprise-wide. In doing so, it needs to put the argument in the right context. When talking to sales, for example, the conversation should focus on the sales pipeline and speeding up conversion rates.
When speaking to R&D, the discussion should concentrate on the evolution of the product or service and how personalisation supports it. And finally, when engaging with customer service, the interaction should concentrate on how to better understand customers’ business imperatives and therefore drive-up retention.
Scaling the roadblocks
Running in parallel with this process of education, technology needs to be put in place to drive personalisation. Each step evolves and supports the other. Education is important to understand what personalisation delivers and what can be ‘demanded’ in terms of insight from the data captured. It supports the business case to invest in technology.
Systems do, after all, need to capture information, take insights and automate what comes next. Unfortunately, many legacy systems fail to deliver this. According to Gartner, only 33% feel their existing tech is useful, while over 80% are sitting on a short-sighted or outdated MarTech roadmap.
A lack of automation and interoperability is often at the heart of the problem. To ensure personalisation helps them achieve their goals, organisations must ensure their MarTech stack seamlessly integrates with the corporate system of record which is often the CRM. In a crowded personalisation marketplace, businesses must take every opportunity to engage with prospects or customers – and technology must support that. The latest AI and algorithmic capabilities combined with MarTech technology and a robust enterprise resource planning (ERP) backbone can help provide businesses with the agility they need to deliver this.
The data dimension
Another challenge is how to make data accessible enterprise-wide without compromising privacy obligations to the individuals whose data is collected. The responsibility is on marketers to turn insight into actionable intelligence. MarTech systems can support that analysis and provide the marketer with the ‘what next’ to take to the rest of the organisation.
The way information is brought together to provide a 360-degree view, or as close to, of engagement is the end goal here. That’s why the demand for systems of record, like a CRM, a content management system (CMS) or a digital asset management (DAM) system, for example, to be open and integrated with leading MarTech, is forever growing. The sales department, for instance, should be able to see for any given lead: the asset they have downloaded, the events they have responded to, and the conversations they have had. Building out that history on a contact and maintaining it on a single system of record is key.
Organisations can use marketing tools to capture insight where there are gaps and make it available to sales in the system they work in. They can also use the technology to start layering top insights on where prospects are in their buyer journey and how this influences how they engage with the contact and which tactics and content they engage with. Are they more likely to be engaged by an event, or an email offer for instance? These kinds of insights then help to make sales conversations and outreach much more relevant.
Ultimately, it is about capturing the intent of the prospect so that you engage appropriately and in a timely manner. This involves understanding the journey and serving up meaningful content that helps inform and shape decision making. This intelligence will undoubtedly make the engagement of the sales team more effective and give them the opportunity to turn a warm lead into a new customer.
Having timely access to intent data can also be a key benefit for customer service and customer engagement teams. If they can use marketing personalisation and intent data together to predict customer behaviour and deliver value. That might be getting insight into a key contact’s new job role and delivering an early offer that addresses the new challenges they face. It might be about understanding whether a contact is looking at competitive solutions and may intend to churn – and stepping in early with a counter-offer that addresses their concerns about lack of flexible pricing, or product functionality.
Benefits to departments
At the highest level, account-based marketing (ABM)/strategic accounts management is significantly informed and influenced by personalisation. The approach contributes to building out account personas and understanding and responding to the behaviours of the key decision-makers and influencers. Indeed, marketing insight can often uncover behaviours that a sales rep may not have sight of.
If organisations get personalised marketing right, it can benefit departments across the business. Marketing-driven personalisation helps sales move opportunities through the pipeline. It helps to achieve longer-term customer engagement. That, in turn, helps customer service focus on making accounts ‘stickier’ and improving retention.
R&D can also use the personalised approach to understand customers’ consumption patterns better and what they may want from the product as they evolve. Marketing benefits too, and delivering this approach improves how it is perceived enterprise-wide.
Thanks to the success of personalisation, marketing is now seen as fundamental to the sales funnel and to keeping customers engaged, informed and loyal.
It is increasingly moving from a ‘we do the awareness’ piece to ‘we drive pipeline and revenue’.
Setting the agenda
Marketing technology and the science of marketing will keep growing. It will be increasingly focused on personalisation and with that, demands from the rest of the business will continue to come its way. It is yet another example of marketing setting the agenda for the organisation as a whole.
About the author: Oliver Pilgerstorfer is the chief marketing officer at IFS.