Personalization at Scale With Artificial Intelligence

Every consumer is different. They have their own interests, preferences and concerns. Sending the same message to every one of your customers and prospects is unlikely to win their hearts. Instead, it will only see your efforts quickly ignored and leave a sour taste in their minds.  

For marketing to be effective in any industry, you need to find a way to speak to your audience on a personal level, and using personalized techniques backed by artificial intelligence (AI) is the way to go.

Marketers’ Missing Opportunities for Personalization

It is now a common practice to use marketing automation tools to reach a wider audience, but the most obvious mistake that marketers tend to make is simply ignoring the option of personalization. By monitoring how users interact with your site, you can get very clear signals of what they are looking for, which device they use and at what time of the day. Failing to engage them with personalized messages means you are missing out on a hot lead.

Other marketers begin personalization first interacting with the audience, but stop short of tailoring messages to the individual throughout the customer journey across devices. For instance, a visitor looked at a t-shirt on your e-commerce site using a smartphone, but he soon left before making any purchase. Later he used a tablet to search for a sweater due to the change of weather. Without knowing this change of behavior, you would continue to send him push notifications about the t-shirt on the phone, rather than the information that meets his real need.

Personalize Campaigns for a Wider Audience Based on Interest

Now, with AI-powered marketing automation tools, marketers can tailor messages on the individual level based on their interests and behavior patterns.

For example, Emma came to your travel site and saw two package deals: one to Tokyo and the other to Bangkok. She clicked on the Tokyo offer and found out the dates were unsuitable. So, she stopped reading and then went on to the Bangkok page where she spent much longer time reading about this destination. Often, this behavior is seen as Emma having equal interests in both locales based purely on the clicks. However, by taking a holistic view, AI is able to identify that she is more likely to go for the Bangkok package. Hence, you can send personalized messages relevant to her real interest.

While learning about your existing customers to delight them is a great step for many companies, you need to make it count – and that means being able to scale campaigns effectively.

Being able to scale campaigns by segmenting the audience based on user interest and behavior is imperative. Not only this way you can personalize content for more individuals who share the same preference, but also target only the people who have shown real interest in a product – perhaps they have checked items multiple times or left something in their cart – rather than just because they have downloaded your app.

An example of poor personalization would be a travel site that sends details of a sale on hotels in Tokyo to all its users, regardless of them all showing an interest in Japan or not. Instead, a more logical approach would be to send details of the various cheap deals to the users who have searched for specific destinations.

An extra step would be to offer deals on car rental or things to do in their destination city. Preferences like this can often get lost in the ether, with prospective customers searching on their phone, tablet and computer and on numerous sites. The average consumer in Asia owns three devices, after all. If this valuable data cannot be tracked, marketers would miss out on a way to improve their strategy.

With the right AI on your side, you can quickly find the signals that people are showing and triggers that will convert them into customers. Many businesses struggle as they grow because they can no longer spend as much time on each customer, but with AI software doing the hard work you can be much more efficient in this pursuit.

Marketing automation can help a business boost its marketing campaign to a certain degree, but without the data and nuances brought about by AI-powered tools, you are often shooting in the dark. Marketing is about getting the right message to the right people, and artificial intelligence is the most efficient way to find out what people want.

Enabling Dynamic Personalization Through an AI-powered Single Customer View

For marketers today, the holy grail is no longer just customer acquisition; rather, they are increasingly focusing on growing the lifetime value of the customer by improving customer engagement and retention. Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered solutions can help achieve this through hyper-personalization and a seamless user experience across devices.

In an earlier blog, we discussed how personalized marketing could drive better conversion.  For online businesses, personalization forms the backbone of user experience and revenue growth. However, in a survey conducted by eMarketer, 91 percent of decision makers acknowledged that their companies needed to improve their personalization capabilities.

Many enterprises are unable to truly personalize their marketing campaigns simply because they lack the single customer view (SCV) that is essential for personalization success.

The Limitations of Marketing Automation Tools in Developing an SCV

Put very simply, SCV consolidates customer data from your different marketing and customer service channels in one place; thus, offering a complete and comprehensive view of your customer. This, in turn, can help you create better targeted and personalized messages that boost interest, engagement and conversion.

But implementing this is easier said than done. Across the region, companies face a number of challenges when it comes to effective personalization through SCV:

1. As the number of touchpoints grow, with customers browsing, evaluating and purchasing products across devices, companies must communicate with them across devices and channels as well. Often companies lack the technology needed to map the same customer across different devices, and this leads to an inconsistent customer experience.

For instance, a marketer may reach out to the same person with the same message three times on three separate devices, simply because their marketing automation tool did not recognise the customer as one person. In a different scenario, if you send a push notification through a marketing automation tool to remind a shopper of something that she has already purchased, this information would be irrelevant or even annoying.

2. Current marketing automation and data gathering tools (email marketing, google analytics, social listening, etc.) allow companies to access vast amounts of customer data, but with these acting in silos, the data is dispersed across different databases. The result – a fragmented customer view.  

3. Marketing teams are able to gather data about their customers’ behavior and journeys on the website and company app, but lack details about what the same customer do outside the company’s online platforms, leading to an incomplete picture of the customer.

Using AI to Build an SCV for Personalization Success

This is where artificial intelligence solutions can help. An AI-powered proactive marketing automation solution like Appier’s Aiqua, for instance, automatically links your audience across devices. To achieve this, the system requires a massive amount of user behavior data, which comes with Aiqua and a brand might not have in a short time. AI will then find the patterns through the data and link back to a specific type of users and the devices they own. This gives you a consolidated view of each customer’s activity and lets you engage seamlessly with them across devices.

Additionally, it maps their journey inside your platforms with their behavior and interests outside, offering you a comprehensive view of your customer’s complete online behavior.

With this data, you can hyper-personalize your marketing campaigns and engage with users across devices by sending out your messaging at the right moment on the channel or device that is right for each user.

With AI enabling marketers to understand and identify audiences based on interests outside of the company app and website, such solutions become integral to customer discovery as well – allowing you to decipher user preferences before they even engage with your site or app. Using the data consolidated from various channels, marketers can then personalize content for customers who have not even engaged with them as yet, making messaging relevant and specific.

For example, a marketer at a travel company can identify which users are likely to be interested in traveling to France even before they land on the website. They can reach out to these prospects with personalized messaging meant to arouse interest and also proactively set rules to personalize the content of the website on the prospect’s first visit.

AI-powered SCV hence allows you to hyper-personalize marketing and offer customers products that they are actually interested in, thus shortening the purchase cycle and driving conversion. Use SCV as a foundational platform for your cross-channel marketing efforts and leverage the insights derived from the data to target the right customer at the right time on the right channel.

Making 1:1 Personalization Possible With Artificial Intelligence

The way a company markets itself and its products or services can have a huge impact on its profits, brand strength and longevity. While a poorly planned and executed marketing campaign is unlikely to help a company greatly, using modern techniques such as personalization powered by artificial intelligence (AI) can push your campaigns to the next level.

Marketing Personalization Is A Necessity

While many brands have already started to personalize their messages using marketing automation tools, online marketing allows for much more specific targeting, almost on an individual basis. Potential customers leave breadcrumbs of their interests across the internet, through social media, shopping sites and search engines. This data can help you craft a better marketing campaign, one with tangible benefits.

Personalization at scale can lift revenue by 5 to 15 percent for companies in the retail, travel, entertainment, telecom and financial services sectors, according to McKinsey & Company.

There is no surprise to see that personalization is becoming a major consideration as McKinsey highlighted that more than 90 percent of retailers believe this is a top priority. However, only 15 percent of these companies are actually doing a good job at it.

Challenges With Marketing Automation Tools Today

One of the most important aspects of marketing is making sure you get your message to the right people. The more specific you can be with your target audience, the more likely you are to see a positive return on investment in your campaigns. There is little point telling a vegetarian about your new steakhouse, or advertising a luxury resort to backpackers.

A major limitation of many marketing automation tools today is the lack of available data. Whether it is because you are looking at a small data pool or that you cannot track a user over multiple devices, having holes in your data can make your personalization less accurate and therefore less effective.

For example, a user may access your site on their computer, phone and tablet. Many personalization tools don’t have the capacity to see this as one user and will instead report three different people looking at your site. This gives a disjointed view of the user and means you miss out on valuable information about the buyer’s journey.

Marketing automation tools do not always understand human actions or emotions either. They could fail to recognize that after someone has made a purchase, he or she will no longer want to buy the same item. This can often come down to a lack of data about a user’s behavior.

Another challenge businesses have is that they find it difficult to scale their marketing efforts and manage engagement across all their channels. One cause for this is the number of different tools they need to cover all the bases, and upgrading each of these can be a costly or impractical exercise. With different tools in place, there is often a lack of communication between what marketers are seeing, making it hard for them to act quickly and efficiently.

How Can AI Improve Personalized Marketing?

There are many ways that AI techniques can help brands improve their marketing campaigns. This is particularly true in terms of zooming in on one particular type of customers and scaling up for large projects.

Without any sort of AI, the information companies know about a visitor when they visit a website can be limited. However, the visitor may already have shown information about the type of person they are and what sort of product they are looking for. For instance, a consumer often purchases fashion goods from an ecommerce site A, but she also buys baby products from site B. Having this insight available for site A means the visitor can be exposed to relevant products and information to keep them engaged further.

AI can also help you engage potential customers once they leave your site. For instance, someone who has abandoned a cart on your site can receive a reminder about the product that they have left waiting, perhaps with personalized suggestions for other items if that one wasn’t quite right.

Another scenario could be knowing whom to send certain newsletters to. You may have a sale or promotion on products that might be of interest to some of your contacts. Sending one email campaign out to all your subscribers isn’t necessarily the best approach. So, knowing who has shown an interest and who would be likely to buy that product can help make that email marketing campaign more effective.

AI-powered personalized marketing is proving to be one of the most effective ways to maximize a marketing budget and it’s something that brands are increasingly making use of today.