When marketers talk about personalization, the conversation usually revolves around data. It’s true that data is essential for understanding and targeting customers, but data is only half of the story.
Thanks to significant investments in marketing technology, many brands now have the ability—technically—to deliver highly targeted and relevant messages to their customers. The data to understand and target consumers better is often in place, as are many of the tools needed to personalize campaigns. Yet the marketplace is flooded with generic, uncoordinated, and largely impersonal marketing messages that are easily rejected or ignored.
So how can brands unlock the content bottleneck and create the millions of unique creative variations required to support one-to-one marketing in a way that improves performance and ROI? The solution begins by bringing data and creative together with automation.
Why automation is key
As marketers look to up their personalization game, they inevitably face resource challenges from the increased effort needed to coordinate across siloed systems and teams. Automation not only unleashes productivity, it’s the only way brands can generate the tremendous volume of content required to create individualized messages and offers in real-time. As marketers try to move from segments to individuals, the more creative variations—and relevant content—are needed to achieve their goals.
An online travel company, for example, needs to reach millions of customers with a targeted email campaign that includes up-to-the-minute information about flights, hotel rooms, and weather forecasts. Using automation, the marketer can create one email campaign that supports millions of possible creative variations by layering data and text-based information, such as the customer’s first name, reward points, and pricing, onto colorful hero images of travel destinations, room types or available airline seats. This would never be possible with a traditional approach where designers create a handful of alternate creatives for a small number of segments.
Clearly, there is a gap between the capabilities that marketers have and the experiences that customers are getting. Brands have invested in customer data platforms and message orchestration systems for execution and targeting, but what’s missing is the link between these solutions and the content that needs to be personalized and delivered at scale. That’s the essential connection needed to turn marketing insights into appealing and highly visual customer interactions that drive engagement, loyalty, and sales.
Increasingly, marketers are saying that what’s holding them back is not a lack of data, but an inability to create enough relevant content to support the one-to-one personalization that customers deserve and expect. A 2018 report from Gartner predicted, “By 2020, 90 percent of brands will practice at least one form of marketing personalization." But content, not data, will be the bottleneck and primary cause of failure.
Composing unique creative that speaks to each individual isn’t just a nice option—consumers are demanding it. That’s why innovative brands are turning to automated solutions that can tap into the marketer’s integrated CRM systems, martech tools and data sources to auto-generate an image in real-time for each consumer based on myriad data including their stored preferences, online browsing behavior, location, and so on.
Movable Ink has developed a set of solutions that can work with a brand’s existing martech stack to combine all of this data and creative into unique visuals that fill the campaign funnel. For example, leveraging application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect to a client’s data sources and integration partners in a repeatable process creates efficiencies and frees up the marketer to harness the power of their data by activating and translating it into individualized visuals. This is a common challenge: Fifty-one percent of all marketers say that integrations with third-party apps/services are a major hurdle to digital transformation, according to eMarketer.
By enabling marketers to unlock the data they have and make it readily available for use in campaigns, these solutions are amplifying the value of their existing martech investments. And we know it can work. For example, one of Movable Ink's clients, Sam’s Club, found that products and pricing information in their email campaigns might be out-of-date by the time a customer opened the email. Movable Ink solved the problem by integrating with SmarterHQ to pull in real-time product and pricing information. Not only did it reduce customer complaints about inconsistent pricing and out-of-stock products, it enabled Sam’s Club to reduce production time from as much as 16 hours down to as little as three.
Another Movable Ink client, Under Armour, had been creating multiple versions of the same email creative to provide personalized experiences for its customers based on preferences and location, but that was a huge burden on the team tasked with developing all those versions. Now, Under Armour relies on Movable Ink to auto-generate the creative based on real-time data. Not only do customers get up-to-date offers and products, Under Armour has decreased production efforts by 75 percent.
As these and other marketers can attest, making use of all of the data available in one’s tech stack is a daunting task. Automated creative generation ensures that the data can be put to use and also reduces the burden on creative teams. Above all, it allows the marketer to be more nimble in adjusting to business needs at a time when agility and speed are critical to success.
For all of today’s marketers, the ability to unblock the content bottleneck—and carve out measurable results—is about as personal as it gets.