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A customer-first strategy requires a deeper layer of personalization

Jerry Kurtz
21 Dec 2021

CMOs rely heavily on hyper-focused marketing strategies and real-time analytics as consumer behavior evolves post-COVID

What does it mean to be a customer-first brand to your consumers? It means making everything feel personal, from the products customers buy to the services they use – and from the way products are designed to how employees speak to customers. Customer-first makes the painful feel painless, the complex seem simple, and every moment feel intuitively right. When customers feel valued, the brand feels valuable to them.

Knowing what your customers want is the key to successfully becoming a customer-first brand – and the answer is in the data. CMOs are leaning in heavily to maximize these important insights and, while it has never been particularly easy to predict what customers will think and want at any given moment, taking steps to closely evaluate historical patterns and trends makes these predictions far more accurate.

Personalization initiatives have been incorporated into marketing strategies for many years. However, consumers are now demanding nuanced, hyper-personal interactions from their favorite brands. Forced to play a never-ending game of catch-up based on the latest news cycles, restrictions, and publicly available health information, brands are still struggling to keep pace with changing consumer behaviors.  

However, a deeper layer of personalization can solve this problem. Here are four emerging marketing trends that can help brands activate a customer-first strategy and deliver a more personalized experience.

Real-time analytics for evolving purchasing patterns

Consumers are disrupting marketing spend and strategies, and brands are responding with real-time analytics to monitor and align with their emerging behaviors. The latest technology platforms can determine automated next-best actions when real-time interactions take place, such as through two-way conversations on social media or other service channels. This level of sophistication requires individualization to optimize the customer journey – but it must be used carefully to ensure customers don’t push back. Marketers who take a thoughtful approach to real-time interactions will break through the noise and win loyal customers with perhaps the most useful benefit they can offer: relevance.

Micro-segmenting at scale

Newly gained advancements in data and marketing tools are enabling brands to embrace micro-segmenting – a trend that identifies very specific persona groups to convert into new customers by delivering hyper-targeted messaging and content at key moments in their shopping journeys. Data-gathering technology helps organizations see the results quickly and easily shift strategies if a certain type of content didn’t resonate with the audience. Social-listening tools are also being utilized to unlock behavior trends and measure brand sentiment. Micro-segmenting is still under-leveraged, but is ripe with opportunity to drive conversions and build loyalty among customers who haven’t previously made purchases with a particular brand.

CMOs embracing data and storytelling

CMOs recognize that they must be increasingly nimble with their approaches. That includes how they leverage data to make decisions and support the business – being open to small experiments without abandoning traditional marketing tactics. This fine balance leads to a greater prioritization of knowing their customers by combining data and storytelling. Naturally, CMOs are looking to better understand the most effective approach to connect with customers – such as the right marketing channel, the best time for outreach, the products to promote, etc. But the best data still won’t make a strong impact if the insights aren’t integrated into an effective story or experience that resonates with customers.

Data Driven Customer Experiences

Organizations need to have the right capabilities in place to merge experience data from devices and channels with enterprise data to activate 1-on-1 experiences. Previously, most organizations focused on collecting enterprise data and used it to build their analytics. But to create effective 1-on-1 experiences with customers, they need to collect, store, and process experience data – coming from the customer’s browsing pattern, individual preferences, and time spent. Harmonizing and orchestrating experiences with enterprise data becomes critical in helping to drive consistent experiences across the entire customer journey of content, product, services, and experiences. This allows AI models built with both experience data and enterprise data to enable experiences that make customers feel like a brand truly knows who they are and understands them.  Combine that with a commitment to data privacy and trust, and customer loyalty forms through a seamless experience that’s safe and reliable.

While the past two years have been an enormous challenge for CMOs, the increased inventory of consumer data has created opportunities for never-before-seen levels of personalization and focus, and a customer-first experience that’s being fine-tuned in real-time. Marketers have always been adaptable in the face of change but focusing on micro-segmentation, real-time analytics, and the combination of data driven customer experiences and storytelling will put them in the best position to succeed in this ever-changing marketplace.