These are buzzwords that have been on the marquee of every marketing technology company for the past 15 years — trying to help marketers achieve the pinnacle of ‘right message to the right customer at the right time.’ Content — or the ‘right message’ — has generally been the focus of the largest marketing platforms, and the marketing technology ecosystem is saturated with many impressive tools that help marketers reach their customers in unique ways.
Gone are the days where marketers have to code in both HTML and whatever personalization language their platforms required. Now, more than ever, there are many great tools, like our partners at Movable Ink, that require no-code/low-code to deliver highly dynamic content — giving marketers the ability to provide creative, personalized content to their customers.
In our conversations with marketers, they rarely talk about content being their challenge in achieving their personalization goals. Their issue? Data. Data — which is the primary driver of ‘the right customer at the right time.’ Their well-thought-out content is hindered by the lack of reliable, and more so — actionable, data. While they may have access to the data, it often comes in the form of FTP feeds, outdated CSV files, and data extensions. The data that comes into those feeds are either already normalized, or are so transactional that it requires queries to transform the data into a usable format to trigger their orchestration plan.
1.) You don't control when data gets to you, and have to monitor that it is actually arriving as expected on time and accurately — impacting your ability to execute real-time personalization.
2.) Your data requires someone technical enough to write SQL for audience selection criteria, which not only can cause challenges like not being able to see counts easily or difficulties troubleshooting — it also impacts your ability to target the ‘right person.’
3.) Your martech infrastructures' technical debt was built around content-first experiences, and not data-driven experiences. While many of the top martech platforms today are spending copious amounts of R&D budget to solve for this, it’s going to be years before they solve these challenges — and even years beyond that for their clients to re-architect their instances to adapt to these changes in meaningful ways. This greatly impacts your ability to execute data-driven personalization at scale.
We know that experiences are fluid — which means data is the key to unlocking the ability to truly engage with the right person at the right time with the right content. Engagement in the moment is the key differentiator for brands to deliver meaningful experiences. Even in a world evolving around privacy, people expect natural and relevant moments of engagement and conversation. The tolerance for tactful and relevant conversations has shifted from daily to minutely, and now down to the second. People want to be engaged with the information they want, when they want it.
Now, you might be saying, “Hey, my marketing platform has a journey orchestration tool, and it uses data to inject or decision my customers through experiences.”
You're right, there are tools that exist today that allow teams to create experiences in a journey or orchestration tool. However, those tools sit on top of a content platform and not a data platform — which often result in the challenges we mentioned above. Those tools have to ask their data layer if something happened or ‘check in for this or that.’ But, in this new marketing renaissance, the data should inform your content — not in a pre-scheduled campaign, but in real-time — and is encompassing of the entire customer experience — including your marketing programs and journeys, but also other critical downstream systems, like analytics, commerce, OMS, call centers/customer service, CRM, POS, and more.
Better yet, this data becomes cleansed, unified, and most importantly, actionable for the marketer — using declarative tools to use declarative tools to create custom attributes or traits. For example, this could look like aggregating total lifetime value from your orders data, or calculating last purchase date to trigger experiences like ‘abandon cart’ triggers — without complex queries or code, or a major lift from technical resources (nearly impossible for most organizations today). And even when it is possible, it still isn't informed by organic living data in their platform, but in systems outside of their marketing platforms.
If you’re looking for what to do about your personalization challenges, we have good news. A solution exists today that solves these challenges, in ways that are easy to implement — driving greater velocity to value for marketing teams and their engineering teams. Twilio’s Segment has been the industry leader in data-driven orchestration and has been at it before the term CDP was even a thing, always with the goal of collecting, synthesizing, and activating data that is reliable and real-time.