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Navigating Digital Tech is Like Parallel Parking

It's complex at first, but simplified with the right approach and experience

Do you remember the first time you tried to parallel park? For some people it was their worst nightmare, like the image to the left. However, once you learn the right techniques from an experienced driver, it becomes easier. The same concept applies to connecting and fitting offline consumer research into the limited space we have for online targeting to create personalized experiences. With the right “instructor,” tools, and experience it becomes easier to connect offline and online data.

Recently, one of our partners, a global pharmaceutical company, engaged us to help create personalized experiences in a customer-centric approach. Up to that point, the experience was mass messaging. We helped them tie the offline world of consumer research directly to their online data management platforms to personalize consumer experiences for 95% of the population in the right way.

What’s the right way to develop a personalized experience?

Personalized experiences are a lot like growing a gardenI like to break down creating personalized experiences into two approaches. One is by coming up with an educated guess and the other is to talk directly with the consumer. Think about it in this way — if I want to start a vegetable garden with seeds there are two basic approaches to get started: planting the seeds outside or inside. For the right vegetables, it can be advantageous to start inside to get a jump start on the season, avoid unexpected frosts, and ultimately produce a larger crop. The same thought process can be applied in creating personalized experiences. We can start “inside” with direct consumer insights (gather offline data) to get a jump start on understanding what consumers are looking for, avoid unexpected errors in creative and design, and ultimately produce more customers.

Where do we start?

We took the “inside” approach, starting with consumer research, by conducting one-on-one qualitative interviews with participants who had used their product or a competitor’s. We utilized specialized research and analytics to understand the consumer decision-making process. This process uncovered the motivational drivers for making purchases. In addition to collecting motivational drivers, we tied the product benefits back to those drivers and then validated the entire decision process on a larger scale through a quantitative study using national survey panels.

But how do I take offline consumer feedback and tie it back to the online experience directly?

We use an idea similar to GPS tracking devices, except these are digital tracking devices that keep the customer anonymous. As consumers take a survey, in the background we are able to tag the user’s browser and assign a random ID to anonymize the participant. This ID then allows us to tie the offline responses directly into a larger data platform such as a data management platform (DMP) or a CRM database. From there we cluster or group individuals (personas) by similar motivations and create cloning models to identify like audiences within either of those environments.

How do I personalize the overall experience?

Merkle can help park you digital tech in the right spotPersonalizing the entire experience begins with purposeful planning of the consumer journey. In our case for consumers of pharmaceutical products, we mapped the journey: awareness, consideration, engagement, experience, selection, and ultimately retention. We took into consideration channels, content, triggers, phase indicators, actions, technologies, and available offerings, among others. This experience becomes dynamic for each persona as each will have differing motivations that encourage them through the entire funnel.

Navigating offline consumer research to online data technologies can be complex and require a 100-point turn, but just like parallel parking — with the right instruction and guidance we can park you in the right spot with the results you’re looking to achieve.