Scale up with hyper-personalization

Scale up with hyper-personalization

Digital marketing can overwhelm your customers with an endless menu of choices — but hyper-personalization throws them a much-needed lifeline. And chances are, once they get their hands on that lifeline, they’ll grab on tight. When you hyper-personalize, you deliver exactly what customers need, when, and how they need it — at scale and with a precision that old-school segmentation can’t match.

Hyper-personalization uses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to elevate your message above the competition, drive growth, and build lifelong loyalty from your customers. According to Personalization at Scale, a 2022 Forrester study commissioned by Adobe, companies that practiced personalization at scale reported gains beyond their expectations over a broad range of both customer success and business success metrics.

Roughly two-thirds of all companies surveyed said hyper-personalization exceeded their targets and expectations for customer experience measures, customer lifetime value, customer acquisition, revenue growth, marketing ROI, and cost savings.

Source: Forrester Consulting

The fundamentals of hyper-personalization

In this post, we’ll show you what hyper-personalization looks like, how leading companies are using it, and what your first steps should be to implement it.

What is hyper-personalization?

Hyper-personalization means using real-time data to create unique customer experiences at scale, across devices and channels. Powered by AI and machine learning, hyper-personalization technologies allow you to rise above the constraints of limited staff capacity, static market segmentation, and rigid information silos to deliver a spot-on customer experience anytime, anywhere.

To hyper-personalize, you must have the right tools. Most important is a customer data platform (CDP) that can collect and synthesize data from every customer touchpoint. (A classic customer relationship management system, a CRM, can’t do that.) Then you need a campaign management system that can help you map and automate your marketing efforts with sophisticated features for testing, measuring results, and refining your approach in the moment.

Investing in these tools pays off. The Forrester study identified a segment of top-performing companies as Experience Leaders — those who had made a significant commitment to providing a hyper-personalized customer experience. Four out of five Experience Leaders exceeded their target metrics for customer success.

4 out of 5 hyper-personalization leaders exceeded their targets for customer success.

Source: Forrester Consulting

Scaling up your impact — the top benefits of hyper-personalization

Relevant content matters, and the size of your reach matters — but it’s the fusion of the two that makes magic. Hyper-personalization amplifies every dollar spent and every minute invested in helping you accomplish these goals.

Four key steps to hyper-personalize your marketing campaigns

These steps no doubt look familiar — but when you harness the power of AI and machine learning, you can do them better and at warp speed.

1. Collect customer data

Traditional buyer profiles use a limited set of data points, such as demographics and purchase history, but hyper-personalization employs more tools in more places, acquiring a richer store of information to paint a vivid picture of each customer. Besides collecting detailed behavioral data about online activity and preferences, you can engage with your customers on social media, offer interactive content, and reach out with polls and surveys to assemble the key ingredients of a highly personalized campaign.

2. Organize and synthesize

With modern data analytics powered by artificial intelligence, you can breeze through the step that trips up most marketers — discovering what insights the data holds. A customer data platform turns complex processing and synthesis into simple keystrokes, identifying target segments and illuminating the next steps in minutes.

3. Create your campaign

Once your customer profiling is complete, you can map the customer journey and create tailored messaging, relevant content, personalized recommendations, and customized functionality for every step. From there, simply automate, refine, and repeat.

4. Analyze your progress

Using a sophisticated campaign management tool, you can collect data in real time, test alternatives, and measure your success. You can also connect individual campaign elements to impact your company’s bottom line, illuminating which efforts are worth repeating.

According to Forrester, about three out of four Experience Leaders have mastered these steps at scale.

75% of Experience Leaders aggregate data across channels and business units into a single customer profile.

76% automate the assembly of modular content to meet their personalization needs.

72% build connected journeys across paid channels using a single tool.

Source: Forrester Consulting.

Examples of how top companies have embraced hyper-personalization

Let’s look at how five leading companies are using Adobe solutions to hyper-personalize — and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

1. Removing friction from ordering takeout

For Panera Bread, it’s critical that customers are able to place an order anytime, from any location, and through any channel — a need reinforced when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-store dining. The company was able to pivot quickly and establish new ways to serve and retain its customers, and it’s bringing those capabilities into its long-term strategy for the future.

Using Adobe’s powerful customer data platform, Panera’s website, mobile app, and in-store kiosks communicate with each other in real time to build a rich profile of every customer and enable Panera to respond quickly to their needs. This kick-starts a world of possibilities for customer engagement, from making sure a customer never has to stand in line to offering rewards they can’t resist.

Here’s a single example of what this power looks like in action. A Panera customer orders from the mobile app, and geofencing alerts the café when the customer’s car reaches the parking lot so staff can bring the order out personally. It’s quick and easy — but as the customer drives away, they realize an item is missing. A simple click in the app pings the store, and the customer can immediately order a replacement or receive a credit. That frictionless experience, possible only with advanced technology, keeps customers coming back.

2. Making online shopping feel personal

Choosing jewelry for someone special is an intensely personal experience, one that doesn’t necessarily translate easily to shopping by app. But Signet Jewelers, the parent company of top brands KAY, Jared, and Zales, recognized that it needed a satisfying online experience to keep customers shopping during the pandemic — and that a digital transformation would serve both its short-term needs and its long-term goals.

To integrate 40 different systems of storing data across the company, Signet needed a silo-busting solution — Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform, powered by advanced analytics. Data is now gathered across many touchpoints but unified in an instant, mapping individual customer journeys as they unfold and identifying any sticky spots that drive customers to the competition. Signet can adjust its marketing approach from moment to moment, using sophisticated tools to measure the direct impact of each tactic on sales performance.

“We are innovating and enhancing our customer experience at near-real-time speed, and we’re doing it at each step of the customer journey so that we’re there for them wherever, whenever, and however they choose to engage with us,” says Rebecca Wooters, chief digital officer at Signet.

Personalized messaging and relevant retargeting at scale are big pieces of the new digital look, along with an array of virtual services such as online consultations and visual search. By using each customer interaction to tailor new offerings, Signet makes customers feel seen and heard — an experience that’s almost as powerful as trying on a diamond ring in person.

“We are innovating and enhancing our customer experience at near-real-time speed, and we’re doing it at each step of the customer journey so that we’re there for them wherever, whenever, and however they choose to engage with us.”

Rebecca Wooters, Chief Digital Officer, Signet Jewelers

3. Building trust for every banking transaction

Financial institutions such as U.S. Bank face a unique challenge when it comes to creating a seamless digital experience because their customers need them for everything from small, everyday services to life-changing opportunities. A single customer can engage with a bank to take out a mortgage, draw up a financial plan, open a checking account, and get money at the ATM — via bank branch, website, or mobile app. And no matter where they are, what they’re doing, or how they connect, their data privacy is paramount.

To wrangle all these pieces into a single trusted and coherent customer experience, U.S. Bank invested substantially in digital technology solutions from Adobe. Now, the company can gather data from an endless number of sources, assemble detailed customer profiles in real time, and automatically serve up the content and functionality that each customer wants — securely, at scale, across channels.

U.S. Bank can be there when important moments arise in a customer’s life — planning for a child’s education, searching for a new home, retiring — to offer relevant, tailored solutions that help them manage their financial goals.

4. Communicating seamlessly with a global client base

When you have 700 offices around the world and clients in every time zone, seamless digital experiences take on a whole new level of importance — especially when you’re a top consulting firm that takes pride in its personal, hands-on approach. Big Four professional services firm EY began its digital transformation years ago, accelerated it during the pandemic to enable remote work, and now uses large-scale technology solutions from Adobe to manage client relationships across the globe.

Turning prospects into clients once depended on impromptu communication between marketing and sales and insights drawn from data in hard-to-reach silos. Not anymore. These days, data is available to all — and it works around the clock to build dynamic customer profiles. Anyone on any team can track each customer journey by account or individual. Each person can reach out personally with the communication that’s right for the moment via the customer’s preferred channel.

Instant visibility enables quick action, which makes it possible to manage complex relationships on a global scale.

5. Increasing engagement five times over

Like EY, Fortune 500 company NRG Energy depends on a personal touch to build its customer base, especially to meet the diverse needs of its commercial and industrial customers. Its marketing approach, originally built on face-to-face interaction and live events, is highly effective, but it takes a lot of time and resources. To grow, NRG needed a new way to maintain relationships and generate leads.

Digital transformation was the answer — integrating its website, email, social media, and apps into a unified customer experience and a more powerful marketing tool. NRG implemented Adobe’s content management system, which made it easy to upload new and compelling content to the website and instantly reduced effort for the marketing team. This content could be mixed and matched to create a personalized experience for each prospect and customer, based on detailed profiles constructed by advanced analytics. This got a speedy result — five times the amount of engagement.

NRG also put Adobe’s advanced testing and optimization tools in place to hone its personalization strategy even further, amplifying ads that worked and reworking those that didn’t. This led to a tenfold increase in leads per visit, a 3% increase in conversions overall, and less spending on ineffective tactics — making a measurable contribution to the bottom line.

“We had originally expected that personalization would primarily be useful for brand exposure and customer engagement, but we weren’t expecting it to have such an impact on our bottom line,” says Steven Lin, director of digital experience with NRG Energy. “We’re boosting leads and truly supporting our sales teams. It shows that personalization works.”

“We had originally expected that personalization would primarily be useful for brand exposure and customer engagement, but we weren’t expecting it to have such an impact on our bottom line. We’re boosting leads and truly supporting our sales teams. It shows that personalization works.”

Steven Lin, Director of Digital Experience, NRG Energy

Hyper-personalization tools to get you rolling

The best thing about hyper-personalizing is that you can begin anywhere — you don’t have to accomplish your entire transformation in one step. To find your starting point, it helps to examine your process piece by piece.

Think about how you currently collect data and extract insights. Determine whether your current buyer profiles are helping you convert and grow your customer base. Also, examine your approach to designing effective marketing campaigns, measuring results, and adjusting in the moment — and whether one of those steps slows you down more often than the others. Take an honest look at your marketing team’s strengths and identify areas that need improvement, and you’ll likely see the exact spot where an effective hyper-personalization solution can make a difference.

If you and your team are ready to get started, Adobe can help. Any of these solutions can make an immediate impact on your marketing.

Adobe Target combines several hyper-personalization superpowers in one package. Personalize every single user experience, A/B test with a single click, and refine automatically — smoothing over the rough spots where customers might otherwise disengage. Watch the overview video to learn more about Adobe Target.

With Adobe Campaign, visualize and monitor every customer journey from start to finish, across channels and devices, and create experiences that make them feel valued. Watch the overview video to see Adobe Campaign in action.

Adobe Journey Optimizer helps you spot opportunities to turn customers into superfans — and gives you the tools to make it happen. Watch the overview video to experience Adobe Journey Optimizer, or take a hands-on interactive tour.

Learn more about how Adobe can help you achieve personalization at scale.