This article is the fifth in our 6 Pillars Powering Cross-Channel Personalization series — a six-part series on uniting all marketing channels for truly connected customer journeys.

The idea behind customer-centric personalization is that by tailoring your marketing experiences to individual customers, you can more effectively engage them and win their business. 

Truly personalized experiences go beyond simply addressing customers by name — these days, including a name is nothing more than a common parlor trick. To stand out, top brands are targeting customers with 1:1 messages that speak directly to their interests. Here are just a few possible examples:

  • Post-purchase campaigns that address not only the product the customer purchased but the way they prefer to use it.
  • First-time buyers receiving entirely different messages than defecting customers
  • Relevant messages delivered at times (time of day, day of the week, etc.) when customers are more likely to engage
  • Ensuring different segments of customers discover uniquely tempting offers in their inboxes, with products recommended based on their past purchases

These sophisticated personalization use cases require ample amounts of rich data. Understanding and processing all that data can be a massive undertaking, even for a huge marketing department with plenty of resources. Yet small marketing teams are accomplishing this level of tailored marketing at scale, so each customer sees more of what interests them and less of what doesn’t. 

But how is it done?

Read on to discover the challenges inherent in customer-centric personalization and the secret to making it work efficiently and effectively. (Spoiler alert: the secret tool is AI!)

The Challenges of Customer-Centric Personalization

Customer-centric personalization is what many, if not all, brands aspire to achieve. The problem is that such a high degree of personalization is difficult to scale.

Although many of the available martech solutions are designed to help you scale your marketing in a general sense, they might not facilitate true 1:1 personalized marketing. That’s because scalable marketing, more often than not, is by its very nature depersonalized. That’s what makes it scalable — you don’t have to make it special to any one person. 

Marketing departments still rely heavily on batch-and-blast messages, and such campaigns still get results… but those results aren’t optimized for you or for your customers.   

Your customers won’t tolerate depersonalized marketing. And they don’t care that you’re trying to market to hundreds, thousands, or millions of other customers, too. The expectation for personalized experiences remains. So how do you scale your marketing while still delivering relevant 1:1 content to every customer, every time?

Enter AI.

How AI Enables Customer-Centric Personalization

Artificial intelligence and machine learning allow you to collect large amounts of rich customer data and create highly personalized 1:1 marketing that you can automate and scale. 

AI uses self-learning algorithms and predictive analytics to inform and project events in the future, more accurately predicting customer behavior. It’s an essential tool that helps determine which content will be most relevant and personal for a specific customer, as well as when and where it should be delivered, to have the most impact.

The tech can also help enrich customer profiles with predicted scores that tell you when a customer is most likely to convert, churn, or simply remain inactive. Having AI send automated 1:1 communications at these pivotal times in a customer’s journey can be the difference between a one-and-done shopper or a loyal, lifelong customer. And again, with AI, you don’t have to do this all one at a time by hand (or more accurately, mouse or trackpad).

Instead, you can do this at scale, whether you have 100, 1,000, or 100,000 customers in your brand’s database — and if your brand engages with global audiences, AI will help you scale across multiple regions and in different languages.

Your business must grow. At least, that’s how your C-suite sees it. And for your part as a marketer, you’re on board. But for true 1:1 personalization that can be executed at scale — which is necessary for driving growth and revenue — you’ll need artificial intelligence.

How 3 Top Brands Are Making an Impact with AI

AI isn’t replacing marketers; it’s here to enhance what marketers are capable of doing, extending their reach and making marketing more personalized. 

Watch these short clips to hear how marketing leaders are using AI to enhance customer experiences across the buying journey, delivering 1:1 personalization at scale for some amazing results.

“To be honest, we saw great results with every new adoption of technology, which was really, really exciting to obviously see all the rewards. But what has been really rewarding to see since starting using AI is that we saw an increase by 10% in our average basket value on a particular set of customer lifecycle. But we also won back 24% of the customers that were likely to defect. So for us, the numbers were really incredible because for anyone that knows BrandAlley, they know how many emails we send to our base on a daily and weekly basis. So being able to alter the way we target this communication is to make sure that we don’t jeopardize the inbox placement, the IP addresses, and so on, but also continue to send really powerful communications was really the key to the success.”

Alexandra Vancea
Alexandra Vancea
Head of Marketing, BrandAlley

“I would say that technology should be there to support us. So obviously, as you mentioned, at the end of the day, you need to feel human at the other end, or the consumer end. And I hope that we will have marvelous AI mechanisms in the background, but it will not take care of everything. So I would say that it can help us to be better and maybe also [manage] the complexity better, because obviously we could enter a more complex way of messaging, but it should be only supporting us. So at the end of the day, we are human. So [marketers] can also say what you would like to consume as information.”

Edit Dudás
Edit Dudás
Head of CRM, adidas Runtastic

“We have such a large database of people and a lot of different customers, and they have all different shopping behaviors. So by the time we sent that offer to that customer, to all those customers at that set time, it was basically too late for us, or it was a lot harder for us to win them back. So, if I defected at 90 days, and Kelly defects at 20 days, you know, […] we’re able to actually, I suppose, use the AI to identify which customers, on a more one-to-one level, are going to defect and then trigger the communications before they actually defect and not after the fact when it’s actually a lot harder to win them back.”

Headshot for Lara Donnelly, Customer Lifecycle Manager, City Beach
Lara Donnelly
Customer Lifecycle Manager, City Beach

Final Thoughts: Let Your Customer Take Center Stage

Your customers don’t have time to waste on irrelevant messages. If you’re sending them content that fails to align with their interests, you’re training them to ignore your brand… or you could even be giving them reason to unsubscribe. 

By tailoring each experience to your customers’ interests and communication preferences, you establish your brand as the most reliable and trusted resource for all their needs. And the only way to do that effectively and efficiently is by using AI as part of your customer engagement platform, so that you can connect with your customers on a 1:1 level at scale.

Customer-centric personalization will help you turn people who like your brand into people who love your brand.

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