Are You Communicating Through Your Customers’ Preferred Channels?

17 May 2023

How to identify customer preferences for personalisation at scale 

When it comes to personalisation, most marketers jump straight to tailored content. Although personalising the message is essential, getting the medium right is arguably more important.

Otherwise, the perfect message falls on deaf ears.

In this article, we’re looking at how data analytics enables marketers to deliver messages that hit the mark. And we’ll share tips on building an interconnected martech stack to analyse, track and optimise marketing personalisation efforts. 

The benefits of identifying top-performing channels on the individual level

  • Optimised budget
  • Better customer experiences
  • More impactful marketing
  • Greater customer insight
  • Higher lead conversion potential

Lack of clarity is keeping marketers in the dark

We hear the same challenge repeated by clients in different countries, industries and size brackets: identifying the top-performing marketing channels.

Every marketing channel uses unique tracking measurements. Unfortunately, that means it’s tricky to standardise (and centralise) the insight that leads to an optimised marketing mix.

So forget personalisation. Many marketers report that data-driven marketing at the strategy level is still elusive in 2023.

Adopting a data-driven marketing strategy is the top concern for marketing leaders in 2023 (HubSpot).

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Is data-driven marketing escaping your grasp? TAP CXM’s specialist services can help to bring strategy, systems and software in line.

In reality, most mature brands fall somewhere between ‘no confidence’ and ‘total clarity’ when it comes to their top-performing channels. They might even know which audience segments respond to which channels.

But there’s still a leap to reach personalisation at scale

In our experience, the gap results from a disconnected or underperforming martech stack. 

Here’s how an integrated martech stack will illuminate the dark spots in your database.

Step 1: Collecting third-party data with a DMP

Data management platforms, or DMPs, collect and manage data from external sources, including cookies, advertising platforms and device data, giving marketers an idea of audience preferences at the macro level. 

DMP data provides high-level insight into audience preferences. For example, demographic data could show that your target audience engages with social media more than email. This is useful for broadly defining the marketing mix and creating audience segments.

You could stop here. 

But we want to go a step further, because the goal is to understand communication preferences on the individual level.

Step 2: Collecting first-party data, ideally with a CDP

Customer data platforms, or CDPs, track individuals across channels, gathering interaction data for a 360° customer view. Essentially, a CDP stitches together disconnected customer data to enrich an individual’s profile.

CDPs enable marketers to provide better customer experiences and personalise messaging by responding to an individual’s behaviour in real time. In this way, CDPs focus on marketing and CXM instead of advertising.

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Adobe’s real-time CDP is a CXM game changer. Our specialists can tell you more about it.

Step 2.5: Combining CDP and DMP data

Together, CDPs and DMPs create a high-definition image of the marketing landscape, allowing marketers to zoom in on individual customers or pull back to identify general trends.

In practice, this looks like:

  • Using DMP data to identify patterns, such as audiences engaging with social media more than email
  • Using CDP data to collect individual behaviour insights that are used to build automation rules and microsegments

The outcome is marketing that responds to an individual’s preferences. 

In an ideal world, marketers would use both platforms. They would personalise omnichannel experiences, creating a consistent customer journey. But that isn’t always possible due to budgets, capabilities or organisational priorities.

Enterprise-level analytics platforms like Adobe Analytics have some of the functionality of a DMP, but not all. Similarly, marketing intelligence platforms like Marketo Engage can provide a good deal of insight into individual customer interactions. However, Marketo still isn’t a dedicated CDP. 

Some personalisation is still possible without a dedicated CDP and DMP. It might be more manual, less intelligent and less impactful, but some is arguably better than none.

Step 3: Test and learn

Based on the broad insights gleaned from DMP data, you have a decent idea of the best way to reach your audience. And with enriched customer profiles, you can personalise content based on individual attributes.

It’s time to put your strategy into action.

This may include testing different messaging, offers, and targeting strategies to find the optimal approach.

But remember, we’re trying to identify an individual’s preferred communication channel. Some strategies to gather this information could be:

  • Create a preference centre to give customers more control over the messages they receive
  • Target social media ads based on customer behaviour
  • Segment audiences into progressively smaller groups 
  • Test new communication initiatives, such as push notifications or SMS, on targeted segments
  • Build workflows that respond to visitor’s behaviour in real time 

The specific tactics and techniques one company uses will be different to another. What’s important is that every interaction collects data that tells a marketer more about the customer. 

Do they click social media ads? Do they open emails? What kind of emails? Do they prefer to receive marketing communications by email, product updates through an app, and important reminders via SMS?

The answers to all these questions exist in customer data.

Integrating marketing automation tools

In our experience, integrating a marketing automation solution is the best way to get value from a CDP. This enables content to respond to a user’s real-time behaviour with context from past interactions.

The user receives a tailored message through their preferred channel in response to real-time behaviour. It raises the sophistication level of your marketing by demonstrating to the customer that you understand their needs and preferences.

This, of course, is the gold standard. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible, depending on budgets, organisational goals or martech capabilities.

Is personalisation possible without an integrated CDP and DMP?

The short answer is yes, some personalisation is possible. 

Most marketers are familiar with how it works. It looks a little like this:

  • Using third-party data (e.g. Google Ads data or advertiser cookies) to create an advertising campaign
  • Attracting website visits, although they lack the 1:1 insight provided by a CDP
  • Hoping for a conversion
  • Entering the new contact into a nurture flow

However, there are several issues with this rudimentary approach. Firstly, repeat visitors are treated as new customers, eroding brand confidence. Secondly, the customer profile lacks depth, meaning any follow-up communication is impersonal.

And finally, the communication channels and frequency are generic. Customers receive the same promotional emails spaced a week apart until they stop engaging and the brand stops trying.

Customers deserve better

And brands can do better. Integrated martech platforms might be a significant investment, but they pay off in spades.

Conversion rates rise. Customers are more loyal and more likely to renew contracts. Cross and up-selling are easier because you know much more about customer preferences.

As CXM partners and database marketing consultants, we work with clients to connect the customer journey and enable this value-adding insight.

We have helped some of the world’s best-known brands achieve personalised marketing at scale through CXM consulting, tailored training and database management. 

See our work in action or contact TAP CXM to start a conversation about customer communication

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