Is change disrupting your business? Why personalization is the constant brands should invest in

Change is indeed a constant. Today, however, businesses not only find themselves in an ongoing state of change but are also seeing the pace of that change — and accompanying challenges — grow considerably more rapid.

Companies across all sectors are increasingly finding the best way to address these incredibly dynamic times is by accelerating the transformation to digital. In so doing, they’re becoming more efficient, reaching larger audiences in a timelier fashion, innovating in new and sometimes unexpected ways, and building more diverse global teams.

As brands leverage digital to evolve how they engage with their customers, they are, in the process, reshaping customers’ expectations. And I can tell you from recent conversations with hundreds of the largest companies around the world that the brands having the most success are those actively making the customer experience more personal — and, further, doing so at scale.

Personalization in and of itself is far from a novel concept. But accomplishing it digitally at scale is quite new. This is all about creating and delivering experiences that are relevant to each individual, in real time on every channel — both online and offline — to as many as millions of customers in milliseconds. All this while honoring customers’ preferences and privacy at each turn. A stand-out example of this is home improvement retailer, The Home Depot.

Best practices in personalization at scale

Adobe recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate the state of personalization at scale and identify best practices of those considered “Experience Leaders.” In line with Forrester findings, The Home Depot is mastering capabilities across data and insights, content creation and omnichannel journey orchestration to enhance the experience it delivers to customers and, importantly, improve business outcomes.

Indeed, while personalization at scale is by no means simple, it pays. According to Forrester, brands that personalize experiences “overperform in customer acquisition, customer experience, and lifetime value with a payoff of higher revenue and return on investment.”

Data and insights: Understanding and trust

The Home Depot has successfully embraced this challenge and opportunity and has the insights to prove it. Its Vice president of integrated media, Melanie Babcock, explains: “At the heart of our transformation is the power of data and the trusted relationship The Home Depot has built with its customers. By unifying our data, we started waking up to the fact that our customers’ trust is an extraordinarily valuable asset. They were telling us exactly what they were looking for, and we needed to be more aligned with ways to help them.”

Content creation: Building a better supply chain

At the end of the day, trust is earned over time and the feelings you engender in customers through each step in their journey with you is pivotal. And for this, content is key. Specifically, creative content that’s relevant and delivered at the right time and place — this is what helps build customer trust. To do this at scale, brands need to master the entire content lifecycle, from planning to production and distribution, in what Forrester calls the “content supply chain.”

Managing workflows and automating processes makes content flow smoothly — and fast. For example, by leveraging a work management application to connect creative and asset management processes, The Home Depot was able increase the number of how-to DIY guides they complete by 286% in one year.

Omnichannel journey orchestration: More than a moment

One of the defining characteristics of personalization at scale is the ability to bring data, intelligence, content, and the right action to each moment of a customer’s journey. As The Home Depot’s ecommerce business expanded, the challenge of providing a cohesive experience grew as well. Thanks to a comprehensive understanding of their customers, the company could see the bigger picture and begin anticipating what customers need on the next step of their journey. “Our customers are smart, savvy shoppers,” says Matthew Jansick, director of online creative at The Home Depot. “With an interconnected experience, we’re able to cascade messages, design standards, ideas, and promotions both big and small to all our customers — whether they shop online or in our stores.”

Change can be good

Change — especially at the rate and magnitude brands are facing today — can be quite uncomfortable. And actively taking on even more may feel like a reach. However, in today’s macro environment, companies simply can’t risk customers feeling as though they are valued purely as data points. They are, in fact, real people with real expectations, and rightfully demand every interaction feel personal to them.

This is the bar for customer experiences today, plain andx simple. Brands like The Home Depot that demonstrate the power in embracing this change will win. If you are not among them, the risk is watching the digital economy pass you by, to the tune of $1 trillion this year in the U.S. alone.

Read the Personalization at Scale report here.

Anil Chakravarthy is President of Digital Experience Business and Worldwide Field Operations at Adobe.