Building blocks of personalization, block 2: Making data useful

In my last article, I discussed how to set the foundation for achieving a 360-degree view of your customers and the role of data. Here, I’m going to explore how marketers can make data actionable and realize the benefits of the enhanced customer view.

In the past, marketers had to ‘plow through’ hundreds of data points to try and get an understanding of their customers. Today, we can churn data at a rapid speed and the insights gleaned allow marketers to not only get to know their current customers, but future ones as well. The role of technology and the process of creating compelling content are essential in this process. Let’s take a closer look.

Machine learning technology enables the ability to create many more granular segments and therefore more personalized messages. At Epsilon, we created a machine-enabled segmentation strategy known as VAP (value, attrition and potential). VAP provides a basis for defining your communication strategy at a customer level, optimizing alignment of marketing efforts.

This means communications can be customized based on VAP driven segments that are processed via ‘the machine’ – ignore, activate, retain, engage, upsell – and are applicable to loyalty programs as well as individual marketing campaigns. Once you understand these segments, the next step is to ensure you have the right content for each segment.

Understanding behavior is essential in providing relevant content in both the online and offline channels. As marketers, we have the tools and techniques to “curate personalized messages at scale.”

For example, I recently purchased eyeglasses online at From my purchase, the retailer has an understanding of my style and design preferences when it comes frames. Now, they are sending me personalized messages (content) of the new fall frames based on my past purchase behavior.

In the context of a loyalty program, which is permission-based marketing, a brands’ understanding of its members’ behavior greatens as they have access to hundreds of data points relevant to the consumer (the member). This helps brands to deliver 1:1 content that creates an emotional connection.  

So the question we often get asked is how can we implement a sustainable content strategy. Here’s a couple of tips for your consideration:

  • Establish a content marketing team: Now that we’ve overcome the technology restrictions and can actually do 1:1 marketing, having dedicated resources to help with content is essential in curating personalized messages. If you don’t have the funding to hire new resources, assign content tasks to existing team members and form a content committee. If you do have an existing content team, think about how you can advance your strategy. Many brands are hiring digital librarians who create, organize and store content that’s unique to each customer. These librarians also ensure that content is streamlined, regardless of the channel. 
  • Be proactive, not reactive: Taking a proactive content approach is highly recommended. Have content prepared so you’re able to engage with your customers, in the moment when they’re expressing a need. For example, I recently saw a meme circulating on social media that was mocking a retail brands’ never ending printed receipt (the receipt includes multiple promotional offers, etc.). As a marketer, it’s important to have content prepared to address these types of reactions. If print is a thriving channel for the brand, the retailer could have communicated a message such as “#printisalive – check out Multichannel Merchant’s recent article on how print is a thriving channel ….”  It’s about being prepared and anticipating ‘content needs’. Epsilon’s Momentum is an application that enables this real time content messaging, moving away from structured campaigns to “always on” interactions in the moment.
  • Keep content consistent, regardless of the channel: In our omnichannel environment, marketers can create channel-specific content and lose sight of the whole customer. Customers expect a consistent experience across channels. The purpose of content is to make the emotional connection, while fulfilling a customer need (answering a question, responding to feedback, etc.). Content tells a story at a point in time, but the customer journey continues on – it’s a conversation that needs to be consistent. Both content and consistency are key to a successful content strategy.

So take a step back, and think about how you can make your data useful. In my next article, I’ll share tips and techniques on how to reach each and every customer in the omnichannel landscape and how marketers can bridge the gap between offline and online.

*This article first appeared on Loyalty360.