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How to Create Content for Every Shopper's Double-Helix DNA

By Kevin Hunter, Chief Product Officer & Head of Innovation, Catalina Marketing

Kevin Hunter, Chief Product Officer & Head of Innovation, Catalina Marketing

Shoppers expect personalized experiences. And now, thanks to rapid evolutionary advancements in marketing technology, it’s becoming a whole lot easier to turn them into buyers.

There’s no shortage of deterministic first-, second-, and third-party data. With the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning we can synthesize it almost immediately. Yet, consistently delivering on the promise of customized content that prompts sales has remained elusive for many marketers and retailers, especially in the CPG and personal care categories. Until now.

What’s proved challenging is analyzing the nuances of consideration in today’s complex marketplace. There isn’t one direct path to purchase but an infinite number, influenced by brand perceptions, shopping habits, and media preferences.

"What’s most promising is how the combination of martech and adtech solutions create DNA-level experiences for every shopper that can be optimized in real time"

A shopper may buy a candy bar in the checkout line prompted by brand advertising she saw the day before on ESPN. Or, she may take a more circuitous route, following a branded content mobile link to an eCommerce site, where she buys a box of that same candy. This could be the same person on two different days in the same week. The attainable challenge now is how to best capture both purchases and respond to them with a content pool that appeals to this repeat user.

Think about each shopper asunique double-helix DNA, complex yet measurable and replicable. We now have the marketing technology to create personalization as specific as 23andme. We can link purchasing behavior to their media preferences and when they’re most likely to act on an offer.

Ironically, it’s this specificity that is tripping upsome marketers and retailers.  It’s difficult to act on all this data without creating one-to-one solutions so precise they’re too costly to execute without artificial intelligence and machine learning. Think of it as having the ability to create rows and rows of custom Saville Row bespoke suits, but only having a Big Box budget.

By using marketing technology as our tailor, we can get the result we want at a fraction of the cost. Take that off-the-rack data and style it smartly for an individual’s needs.  We can now combine shopper IDs with demographic data to create a persona as specific as an earth-friendly shopper who buys prepared meals at Trader Joe’s, soda at Walmart, and paper goods at Whole Foods. We can tell, out of the 200 SKUs a retailer promotes in a week, which five will most appeal to a specific shopper.

What’s becoming more sophisticated is our ability to then serve the right content at the time most likely to prompt purchase. We can see how TV advertising drives lift and in-store purchases and understand the effectiveness of cross-device campaigns at the UPC level.

With the SKUs and media that appeal to each shopper’s DNA in hand, we can start to identify a content pool that creates relevant personalized experiences in real-time. Retailers can serve up store-wide, completely personalized recommendations in email or ecommerce based on purchase history.  They can flag favorites, identify “products you might like,” and show trending products that fit within categories of interest. Shoppers can now receive personalized mobile circulars and other orchestrated content delivered across platforms.

What’s most promising is how the combination of martech and adtech solutions create DNA-level experiences for every shopper that can be optimized in real time. As an industry, improving our ability to validate which media works best for each intricately tailored persona gives us nearly limitless shopper engagement opportunities.

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