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Talking Personalization, Part 1: Business Transformation

The Experts Weigh In

People interpret personalization in various ways. At Merkle, we think about personalization as an ongoing exchange, not just a one-time project.

The only true constant in personalization is that it is reliant on data. To deliver an individualized experience, you need to pull from multiple sources of data— first, second, and third-party — to identify an individual and determine how you'll interact. But then the question becomes how do you use that data? Some think of personalization as manually identifying content based on specific audiences and presenting it in a rules-based manner. Others look to employ machine learning tools to develop algorithms and automate the process. Personalization is also referred to as utilizing AI to process data, formulate recommendations, and orchestrate the changes to content in real time.

This blog series will explore perspectives from leaders at Merkle and their experience working with brands to deliver on personalization.  

Our first discussion is with Margie Chiu, SVP, Business Transformation at Merkle.

Margie leads omni-channel marketing strategy, digital transformation, marketing technology planning, marketing program design, and customer strategy for the world’s best brands.

1. What challenges do you see organizations facing with their overall marketing strategy as it relates to delivering personalized experiences?

“The clients I work with have challenges in three main areas:”

  • Regulatory: “This differs by client and industry, but not knowing what they can and are allowed do with data becomes a challenge.”
  • Data: “Data is siloed and people do not know who has data or what data they can use.”
  • Program: “The overall complexity of personalization adds cost and complexity to an organization, and many end up feeling that their hands are tied.”

2. How does organizational readiness including creative, data, and a good customer strategy enable organizations to deliver on personalized experiences?

“Organizations need a good customer strategy and personalization roadmap but at the same time, there are quick wins they can act on today.”

3. What are some key questions organizations should ask vendors and partners?

“Most clients leverage multiple vendors and most of the vendors operate at a product/channel level. Businesses need to design an infrastructure with their vendors where there is a lead agency and all the vendors are collaborating within the vision of personalization.”

4. What questions should organizations ask themselves about their strategy?

“Clients who want to be customer centric need to ask themselves why they are not. Organizations need to ask themselves if incentives and business KPIs are tied to products and channels or to the customer experience.  Not doing so causes an internal priority conflict.  If teams are evaluated on product/channel performance and not customer-centric KPIs, they are not aligned to deliver personalized experiences.”

5. What recent trends do you see for personalization?

“Organizations taking a deeper look at their data: strategic data audits.  Also, decisioning based on solid data will be big.”

The next blog in the series will focus on an interview with Steve Galaty about digital personalization.