Getting personalisation right this Black Friday

Consider: in a martech landscape where you have piecemeal applications run by different teams (email marketing, web content, social advertising and retargeting, traditional advertising and retargeting, marketing insights engines, etc), how can you capitalise on your data assets?

Research by retail consultancy Planet Retail last year found that UK PLCs are missing out on the opportunities Black Friday has to offer – largely because their IT systems aren’t set up in a way that offers brands a holistic view of their customers’ habits. Further research by Sitecore and Vanson Bourne found that almost a fifth (17%) of UK brands say they lack the skills needed to properly use or analyse the data collected on customers.

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Because of this, marketers end up having to weave complex interconnections between different applications to link data sources and – even if they’re able to do this successfully – the resulting mess of interconnects results in your data resembling a suspension bridge made of cooked spaghetti – incomprehensibly complex and incredibly fragile.

The status quo

Thinking about your marketing and sales environment – you might be using Marketo for marketing automation, Salesforce for CRM, a CMS for your website, a social network management and customer survey tools.

You might have (several) separate data insights tools. You might have two ecommerce platforms (one optimised for mobile). You might have a further disjointed retail/Point of Sales customer experience application. You might have real-time data on customer usage feeding back directly from customers who own your products. It’s only by weaving all these disparate sources of data together that you can deliver a personalised customer experience.

After all, if a customer researches a product online and buys it in store, you won’t want to immediately retarget them with adverts that don’t match their chosen outcome. For example, serving them adverts which are built around the digital concept of the customer that was last seen browsing the product pages of the website, instead of the someone who went into a retail store and purchased the product. So, pushing accessories and upsells rather than the product itself will be much more useful to the customer.

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Similarly, if a customer buys a product online, you want them to be pushed promotions for those products’ accessories in store, rather than be sent towards the product once more.

You can only achieve this by matching and marrying data from different channels such as in-store and online. This is entirely possible by connecting the dots through, for example, credit card details. Then you can get smart, and measure the impact on your online campaigns aimed at driving consumers to offline stores or call centres.

The innovation opportunity

Marketers are desperate to be able to re-use that data in order to create a personalised experience, across channels, and consumers even more so. 96% of consumers believe there’s no such thing as a brand interaction that’s ‘too’ personalised – but many feel that brands today don’t do a good job of delivering it. This will stem from a number of factors, including a brand’s ability to link fragmented sources of data and insights on the customer’s interactions.

Solving this problem can be done by looking at ways to draw the data within your siloed marketing applications into a central database. Then decide upon a few critical insights and correlating data points to investigate that will have an impact on important business metrics such as lost conversions and revenue.

Having gleaned this intelligence, it a matter of then playing those insights back out in your content strategy. This approach is critical in optimising your investments in digital marketing for behaviour targeting, and engaging customers in the right context.

The regulatory need

Alongside the need to use unified data in order to deliver new, data driven, personalised services, there’s a clear need to comply with regulation calling for enforcement of data protection legislation.

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Personal data needs to be stored for a certain reason, for a certain period of time, with clear goals, audiences, outcomes and rationale. If your data lies scattered across multiple applications and services, and you have no means to connect the dots between a customer record, then at best you will only ever be partially compliant with regulation like GDPR.

Going through the process of connecting all your customer data via a central, open-API powered platform at least sets a better framework for compliance and protects brands from the hefty fines and reputational fallout coming with the new compliance regulation from next May.

Unravelling marketing data spaghetti

The only way to untangle your spaghetti is to consolidate data into fewer, strategic platforms that give you a far greater level of control over what you hold, how long you hold it for, and give you the ability to delete it if required. The open API approach for connecting disparate data sources will be vital for this in the future.

In the age of the omnichannel Black Friday customer, you have to have omnichannel data and insight. The good news is that today, these practices are both entirely technically feasible and financially viable. Moreover, essential to building a competitive and compliant data driven business.


Sourced by Paul Fennemore, C-Suite Level Digital Marketing and Customer Experience consultant, Sitecore


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...