In the late 1990s, renowned American marketer Seth Godin introduced the concept of permission marketing. Instead of bombarding people with advertisements, permission marketing seeks to connect with people on their terms. It is driven by mutual respect and trust.
Personalized marketing is part of the same approach. You connect with individuals rather than megaphoning your products/services to an anonymous crowd.
Taking a leaf out of Godin’s book again, it is important to realize that personalized is not the same as personal.
Having an AI bot to remember your customer’s name is merely personalized. Interacting in real-time with the same customer on their terms, identifying their present context, and trying to resolve their issues — that’s more than personalization.
In this blog post, we will stick to the term ‘personalization’ since it is part of the mainstream marketing lingo, albeit keeping the above distinction in mind.
In fact, the core enginery of Marketing Cloud Interaction Studio insists on maintaining such a distinction. Marketing Cloud was not built to reinforce crude mass personalization.
So, let’s begin.
What Is Marketing Cloud Personalization?
Marketing Cloud Personalization is Salesforce’s answer to the problem of delivering highly personalized, context-driven experiences to customers in real time.
As customers interact with your brand, Salesforce Interaction Studio captures their behavioral patterns and responds to each customer according to their individual status quo along the sales pipeline and on their preferred channel of communication.
Salesforce has two Personalization editions, namely Growth and Premium. The Growth edition does not enable omnichannel personalization. You can learn more about it here.
With the help of Marketing Cloud Personalization, you can:
- Create a unified customer profile: The Unified Customer Profile gives you an exhaustive, bird’s-eye view of each user who interacts with your brand.
Salesforce marketing cloud interaction studio allows you to create a Unified Customer Profile for eCommerce, demand generation, and SaaS.
- Manage identities: Personalization begins after the aggregated customer data has been collected in one place. Following this, Cloud’s built-in identity management system uses deterministic data matching to create a Unified Customer Profile for each customer.
The system uses specific identifiers (called identity types), such as customer ID and email address, which determine how to process events in the Salesforce event bus.
Your customers may interact with your brand on various channels, thereby generating disparate identity data. The goal of identifiers is to merge all that data into a single, unique profile for each customer.
- Build and manage audience segments: Salesforce personalization allows you to segment your audience according to a set of self-defined criteria.
When a user interacts with any one of your channels, the Personalization platform identifies the relevant segments from the user’s real-time activity on that particular channel.
- Access reports and analytics: Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization gives you access to reports for in-depth corrective analyses.
On the Reports dashboard, you can view user activity, campaign activity, the number of content views, product purchases, transactional stats, etc.
You can access activity reports, results reports, and visits reports. Guardian, part, and parcel of Marketing Cloud Interaction Studio, monitors metrics gathered from your website, or app, in real-time.
You can use Guardian to detect optimization windows, and to identify and fix potential bottlenecks.
Why Should Marketers Leverage Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization?
Personalization minus AI is still a widely practiced approach to connecting with customers. But, in the absence of AI, you can only group customers according to their demographics and shared interests. Not only is it increasingly outmoded, but your customers are evolved enough to recognize the difference between being treated as a person and as a persona.
AI-powered personalization (hyper-personalization) enables you to treat each customer as a persona, an individual, which is what consumers are looking for today. Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization is a direct answer to that demand.
The availability of data makes that possible as well. In their report, “Connecting with Meaning: Hyper-personalizing the Customer Experience Using Data, Analytics, and AI,” Farhad Shariff et. al. argues:
“Historically, customer data was collected across outdated and disconnected systems, and limited to call centres and point-of-sale. However, increased digitization coupled with advanced data technologies allows organizations to use their proprietary and third-party data to create detailed pictures of customers and gain a deeper understanding of their preferences and behaviours.”
The Unified Customer Profile is a data-intensive control board. It contains contextual data, demographic data, event data, cross-channel data, and real-time affinities.
Equally, a crowded digital marketing landscape is triggering extra spending in customer acquisition. In a telling contrast, Salesforce-using companies have witnessed a 28% decrease in customer acquisition costs.
SFMC Personalization Implementation Methods
The process of implementing Salesforce Marketing Cloud Personalization can be segmented into the following steps.
- Identify Stakeholders: Identify who the primary and secondary stakeholders are. Conduct a stakeholder analysis. Include the person(s) who is in charge of website operations, the team responsible for configuring data integrations, and the person who will be using Marketing Cloud Personalization post implementation.
- Data Security Requirements: Document how many datasets you need. Marketing Cloud Personalization uses dataset bundles to manage data security. Separate datasets hold customer data according to geography, brand, attributes, behavior, etc.
Take geography. If you are a global brand, you need to create one dataset for local customers and another dataset for global customers. Accordingly, the team handling local customers cannot access the global dataset, and vice-versa.
- Implementation Path: The implementation path includes deploying the web SDK (software development kit), and site mapping.
Deploy the Marketing Cloud Personalization web SDK in the header of your website or application. Following this, create a sitemap in order to monitor behavioral and contextual data, facilitating meaningful interaction with your customers.
- Identify Your Business Challenges: How are you planning to use Salesforce personalization? Identify your main objective, your most active engagement channels, your primary KPIs, and the most relevant audience segments.
- Build A Campaign Strategy: First, identify your core audience. Who do you want to deliver personalized experiences? Segment your target demographic according to behaviors, preferences, and motivations.
Define your business objectives. What is the exact problem that you are looking to solve? Are you planning to build something from scratch? Or do you want to carry out a series of improvements?
Determine your KPIs. What are the metrics that you are measuring? Do you want to increase conversions by a certain percentage? Do you want to increase the CTR?
Consider testing the objectives with a campaign. Following this, identify what type of content you need to create to support your test. This step may also involve reviewing your existing content to scope out potential improvements.
- Document Your MO: Having identified the business challenges and built a campaign strategy, document your MO and communicate the same to the concerned stakeholders. Collaborate to finalize the business requirements, and then you can kickstart your project on Salesforce Interaction Studio.
You need to choose the right implementation partner who is committed to helping you succeed. At the end of the project, they should provide you with an exhaustive solution document.
Equally, all team members should be included in the knowledge-sharing sessions carried out by the implementation partner.
“It’s very important to plan your knowledge transfer process. A knowledge transfer isn’t a meeting for an hour or two, it’s the process of transferring information, history, reasoning, contacts, and dates from one individual to another. Depending on the complexity and amount of work that has been put into your Salesforce instance this could take a while,” writes Mike Gerholdt, Senior Director of Salesforce Admin Evangelism at Salesforce.
The word personalization has been bandied about for quite some time. Before the integration of AI into digital marketing, it only meant identifying customers by their names and their demographics. At best, it was a favored replacement for the word “customer”; at worst, it was almost mass marketing gone digital.
But with the advent of AI and hyper-personalization via tools like Marketing Cloud, the paradigm of customer experience has changed. It is no more solely about identifying customers by their names but about participating in a nexus of individual narratives.