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August 26, 2019
Marketers Getting Personal
The race is on to personalize and optimize holiday messaging. Personalized communication prompts better, faster and deeper response, engagement and conversion. Serving personal and relevant messages is dramatically more cost efficient. But few marketers have mastered the ability to truly personalize messages.
Personalization drives brand preference, increases purchase frequency, and spikes customer loyalty and brand advocacy.  The ability to personalize interactions, frequency, messages and channels is much more challenging because it requires a change of mindset, a significant investment in technology, a sensibility about consumer privacy, creation of many more  messages and variations, plus a willingness to make educated guesses, using a wide range of variables representing each individual’s idiosyncratic customer journey. 
Consumers understand and accept data collection as a fact of life. In fact, they expect a quid pro quo.In return for giving up personal information, they want deals, coupons, special or early access, rewards or points and inside information. People also want to be recognized. It’s as if they are saying, “Use what you know about me to keep me up-to-date, treat me special and tell me about things I like or care about.”   Consumers expect that the sum total of interactions, plus the tone and tenor of the relationship, will be used to super-serve them. When it’s a half-assed or bad attempt, personalization becomes a relationship killer.
The key to mastering personalization, which for many retailers is the only strategic defense against encroachment or destruction by Amazon, is compiling the so-called “Golden Record” also called mapping identity or identity resolution. This is the ultimate collection of data about an individual that spans psycho-demographics, contact information, media and channel use or preference, purchase history, favorite or frequented locations. This data trove can even include lifetime value calculations, predictive models or propensity scores. 
This requires a well-defined strategy, creative thinking and creative assets and a supporting technology stack -- and the specialists to use these tools and tactics. Many brands claim that personalization is too difficult organizationally, too costly, too technically complex, too hard to measure and too hard to get it right.
The personalization process requires a single platform or a “single point of truth” vis-a-vis customer identity. Only then can AI and machine learning be deployed to decide who gets which message, when, where and how often. Once the data is collected and the algorithms are run, then automation tools become the muscles of personalization, synchronizing and deploying email, direct mail, SMS, video, social, display and retargeted messages. 
Personalization is about using data to improve targeting, frequency, response and engagement, and to build or extend conversions and loyalty in hyper-competitive markets. At this stage, personalization is a mix of art, intuition, test-and-learn and science. But like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it.


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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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