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Marketing personalization: what steps to take?

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Marketing personalization: what steps to take?

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Your company most likely has a wealth of information about your customers. This data comes from visits to your website or in-store, customer purchases, online requests, and much more! The question is: do you know how to use this knowledge to increase marketing personalization and generate better results?

Not sure of the answer to this question? Let me help you more. Do you still only use demographic data on your contacts in your communications? For example, mentioning Mr. or Mrs. based on sex, or putting only the person’s first name, is no longer sufficient. You have to go further, and recognize that the individuals who come into contact with your brand are people in their own right, with unique interests and behaviors.

If you know that it is important to go further in personalization, but that the path to get there is unclear and nebulous, this article is for you. Mounted in the form of a guidebook, it presents some essential steps to implement an effective marketing personalization strategy!


Step 1 – Build your Unique Customer repository

The first step is the very foundation of your marketing personalization. Since it is based on only one thing, it must obviously be controlled. This thing is the customer data. Here we must take the word customer in a broad sense, since it is actually an individual who has been in contact with your company, whether he is a future customer, a current customer or even a former customer. It is important to specify this concept within your organization. This will allow you to establish the relationships that your marketing teams, or sub-teams under the umbrella of marketing, will need to touch.

For example, the sales team carries out business development, i. e. finding new customers, but is also responsible for the long-term development of each of these customers. In this perspective, you need to ask yourself 2 questions: 1) do you want marketing to support sales in these processes and 2) how do you want this involvement to translate into action?

This question is also important in relation to product development, R&D, customer service, customer experience, etc. It is often said that marketing is the most global of an organization’s functions, since it affects all departments. If this is true of your company, make sure it is clearly expressed.

This work is essential for one reason only: it exposes where customer data is located. Ultimately, if you want your marketing team to work on communication elements from other departments, you must provide them with an environment conducive to this. To come back to my example on sales, your marketing team will need access to information on customer accounts, either to set up automated campaigns, create related documentation, support proposal writing, etc. In fact, scattered data makes it almost impossible to orchestrate targeted marketing campaigns that will have an impact on customers. It also means that they will certainly not be personalized.

In fact, on average, marketing teams work with data that is in at least 15 tools! It’s huge, and absolutely impossible to manage, unless you have a centralization approach. This approach is called the single client repository (RCU), which seeks to tackle this dispersion issue head-on. By connecting several tools together, it retains data that has been flagged as needing to be incorporated into a central database. This central database can then contain data from CRM (which belongs to sales), PMS (project management teams), data management tool (which belongs to analysts), DWM (for warehouse operations managers), and much more!

Two important things to remember here in order to operate an efficient RCU. First, the flagged and therefore centralized information will have been evaluated and decided by you. Hence the importance of having well established marketing responsibilities for the communication approaches of the entire organization. Secondly, the RCU is based on a proprietary database principle, which recognizes contact with a single identifier. If you look back at the tools mentioned above, you will notice that they most likely identify a contact in different ways.

  • CRM = Customer number
  • PMS = Project number
  • DWM = Order number
  • In marketing = E-mail

Since all these identifiers are different, it is difficult to recognize a contact on all points (with my previous 4 points, there would be 4 contacts in a database). To make it easier to operate, the RCU is built on business and prioritization rules, in order to retain the most useful identifier to recognize a contact.

It is this mechanism that ensures that you get a real 360-degree overview of your customers throughout the organization. This also means that you can gather data from your business units, franchises, offices abroad, etc.

The RCU is really the marketing tool of tomorrow. We are increasingly noticing that companies are interested in this solution, but its implementation requires good planning, especially if you connect many tools together. Stay tuned for an article that explains the RCU more!


Step 2 – Define your segments

Now that your data is centralized, you need to evaluate the basis of your marketing personalization. There are many ways to approach marketing personalization, since it can be relatively generalized, or totally unique to each individual. In addition, personalization levels can vary depending on the channel you are targeting.

In this context, it is necessary to find a basis, a foundation, to guide personalization, and it is segmentation that will achieve this. Segmentation is essential because it allows you to recognize the differences between your types of customers. For example, in the food industry, you can recognize your foodies, but also customers who buy according to what is practical. This information may influence some of your communications (such as areas in emails, which will be more targeted), in addition to creating more targeted recommendation scenarios.

Segment evaluation is about data work, which requires you to analyze it in order to extract relevant information. This is not an easy job for all organizations, given that resources are sometimes limited. To help you evaluate them, here is a potential exercise:

  • Evaluate a broad category on which you want to differentiate your contacts (e.g. amount spent, purchase cycle, use of the reward program, range of products purchased, etc.). In short, any criterion that can be measured on a scale. To put it simply, I will take the purchases.
  • Evaluate two measurable axes in this category. I will take frequency of purchase and average value of the basket.
  • Evaluate values for these two axes, which you will put in each of the boxes of a table with the rows and columns decided by you. In my example, it could be the number of purchases per week, and value per $100. I gave you an example in the image below.
  • Once the elements are placed, you simply have to see the number of contacts that are placed in each of the boxes. Once done, you will be able to create your segments, based on the color of the boxes. In my example, I would have five, from the customer who buys a lot and very often, to the one who never buys.
  • Finally, be sure to identify each of your contacts in your database according to these segments. These values 1 to 5, for example, will serve as the basis for your customization.

Of course, you can do this work several times, based on different criteria. It may also be useful to add values together in the database to refine marketing personalization. Your segments may also lead to the definition of your personas, and if you are interested in starting this process, we recommend this article.

Step 3 – Create your personalized scenarios

Now that the data can be used in an RCU, that the basis for recognizing differences between clients is in place, it is time to move on to the major step of operationalization. However, before even starting to produce templates and content, it is first necessary to plan the communication sequences that will be sent to customers.

If we return to the RCU, it will normally have involved data and system mapping work, which allows to understand exactly what data is accumulated on clients. In our application, the RCU creates well-ordered contact sheets, which are modular according to the contact fields to be produced. Since these fields are known and usable, it is easy to find scenario triggers, but also those that will modify these scenarios through time.

With a view to personalization for your marketing teams, here are the thoughts I suggest you have:

  • Between marketing and other departments previously assessed as collaborating, what scenarios should marketing produce?
  • What communications should be made to clients to support them in all their contacts with the organization?
  • What data can inspire me to further personalize my communications?

Questions such as these will help you evaluate a complete list of communication scenarios to be implemented. They may include welcome campaigns, support, project closing, satisfaction surveys, renewals, orders, etc. We must not limit ourselves, but rather have a global vision of what is sent to the client, and ensure that these communications are standardized and personalized accordingly.

Once your listing of scenarios is done, go through the creation of the scenario itself, involving actions and decision rules. The visual expression of this can vary, whether in a document or in a diagram, but it is essential to ensure that nothing is forgotten. Here is an example:

Finally, for each step of the scenario, take notes about what will be customized, based on the customer data available on your side!


Step 4 – Start producing your personalized marketing campaigns

The last step is the production of the content itself, which will be deployed over several channels. Several approaches are possible here, but here are some good practices to consider.

  • Work with templates: whether for SMS, landing page, pop up, push or email, using one or more templates provides you with many advantages. First, you lose less time, since templates are normally designed to have blocks that are often used. The second is also there, since a well-designed template contains more advanced blocks, containing customized features. Finally, your brand image will be much more consistent.
  • Use dynamic content: in these customised options of your templates, it is always relevant to plan blocks that will be dynamic according to certain criteria. For example, you could make the hero of an email present 5 different offers, which will vary according to the segment established in step 2.
  • Set up content hubs: it is possible to create offer hubs, which are accessible and easily inserted into your communications. These hubs can contain images, a list of your products, a list of names, etc. Once again, this content may vary according to the personalization criteria determined in a communication.
  • Work in automated mode: it’s probably obvious to you, but customization is deployed in automated mode. Then find a marketing solution that will allow you to do this quickly (a bit like Dialog Insight!).
  • Use data fields: make sure that custom content blocks use the right data fields to recognize who should receive what.

It is certain that the channel to be personalized will greatly influence the operational approaches to be implemented. As well as the objectives that each of the communications should have (inform, awaken, sell, cross sell, etc.). In any case, look clearly at each of the sending in your scenario, then make sure you put personalization aspects where it is important, since it will have an impact on the person who receives it.


Marketing personalization is a job that must be planned. You shouldn’t just sprinkle your communications with a few personalized offers, based on groups of customers made at the last minute. If you are interested in going further, I hope this article has given you some ideas. At the very least, I hope you have a better idea of the steps you need to take to improve your personalization practices. Good luck!


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