The future of personalisation in the data-driven era

The future of personalisation in the data-driven era

Guest blog | Last updated: 11 January 2019

Guest blog: Ramon Weterings, Regional Vice President Western & Southern Europe at Sitecore

Data-driven marketing promises marketers a ROI of 5–8 times their marketing expenditure. It is therefore not surprising that last year no less than 20 billion dollars were spent on this relatively new form of marketing worldwide. Moreover, there is every indication that this amount will increase rapidly in the coming years. But does data-driven marketing also deliver benefits to consumers themselves, and how do they feel about the eager use of their data?

Everyone has been talking about big data in recent years, but data-driven marketing is less well known. Data-driven marketing is simply marketing based on the data from all possible actions and relationships between a brand and its consumer, ranging from a visit to a web page over a download to a tweet about the brand. It is an aggregation of all the data that you can collect about someone and use to come to a more personalised customer experience.

We’re out of milk

The best known example of data-driven marketing can be found on web shops. Everyone has already seen that if you want to buy trousers online, there’s something underneath, such as: “Ten people who bought these trousers also bought these shoes with them. Until now, in Europe one has usually not gone much further than that. While I think it will only become really interesting in the next stage. Because then you can, based on what people have bought or based on their past and real-time behaviour, predict what they will do within two or three days.

“In the future, the collaboration between machine learning, artificial intelligence and data collection can go even further thanks to the Internet of Things.”

Take Alexa for example, Amazon’s digital personal assistant, who can ask you anything, but who can also shop with you at web shops like Amazon. Once you have done that a few times, Alexa will send you a reminder: “Hello, you’re almost out of milk. Do you want me to deliver new ones to your home within two days? This collaboration between machine learning, artificial intelligence and data collection is where we are currently heading.

A future full of data

And that might happen faster than generally believed. According to a recent study by the US Data & Marketing Association, 44% of marketers would already be working with a data management platform today, and 33% would have concrete plans to purchase one. 77% of them say that their access to usable data has increased significantly over the past year.

In the future, the collaboration between machine learning, artificial intelligence and data gathering can go even further thanks to the Internet of Things or the countless connected things in our lives. Take running shoes, for example. They already measure the distances you walk. Other sensors could also measure the degree of wear. After a while, you would get a message from Nike or another brand saying that you can walk another twenty kilometres with your shoes before they are completely worn out. Smart TVs and smart refrigerators are also starting to showcase their enormous potential.

At present, however, many of these future opportunities are still beyond the reach of the average companies that do not have mountains of data like Amazon and have also implemented machine learning and artificial intelligence to perfection. Moreover, we always base ourselves on an economic model, whereby we assume that people go through a number of fixed steps for a certain trigger that result in a purchase. But as everyone knows, people are impulsive beings driven by emotions. This is sometimes difficult to integrate into a data-driven marketing strategy.

Who needs privacy?

Many people, including marketers, also think that these consumers are still averse to overly personalised marketing because they would worry about their privacy. Marketers fear that they would look like a creepy big brother if they made too explicit use of the data consumers gave them.

“75% of consumers are more inclined to buy from a retailer who knows them by name, knows their purchase history and offers them recommendations based on recent purchases.”

Surprisingly enough, studies point to the contrary. According to an Accenture Interactive market survey, for example, as many as 75% of consumers would be more inclined to buy from a retailer who knows them by name, knows their purchase history and offers them recommendations based on recent purchases. Especially since the GDPR has been in force. Consumers now feel safer and seem to have fewer problems sharing their data with a company, as long as they know what a company is going to do with the data they provide. Twenty years ago, that might have been different. But the current generation has grown up with technology. They fall asleep, so to speak, with their smartphone in their hand. Technology is part of their daily lives. They realise all too well that everything is an exchange of data. And they are completely open to it. As long as everything is sufficiently transparent.

Most modern marketers have limitless amounts of data, but still cannot reach the level of personalisation that today’s customers expect.

Within my 20+ years experience in enterprise sales and sales management I developed a true passion for software, especially how it can help, transform or disrupt entire businesses and industries. I’m very excited about Digital Marketing, Analytics (descriptive, predictive, prescriptive), Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things. Together with my team I want to help organisations harness the power of data to deliver a truly unique customer experience, build customer loyalty and improve results. I’m currently responsible for entire Sitecore business in Southern & Western Europe (Benelux, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Israel).

Ramon Weterings, Regional Vice President Western & Southern Europe at Sitecore

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