Source: Leveraging the Seven Channels of Real-Time Personalization

Personalization is a highly effective strategy to engage, acquire and retain customers and prospects with whom you engage. Marketers utilize behavioral data to tailor offers and content to visitors relevant to their known interests and browsing history. Examples of effective vehicles for personalization are personalized emails and personalized product recommendations. Even though those are the most common examples, broadly speaking there are seven channels available to real-time personalization. Which are you leveraging today?

1. Web: Practically all our customers, regardless of industry or geography, start their real-time personalization for marketing (RTPM) implementations on the web. It is the obvious channel where customers log on, navigate for information, search for products, acquire products, look to be inspired, have access to their profile information and contracts, and so forth. It’s the most logical channel to personalize your communication to the end customer. This is true for both B2B as well as (and more often so) in B2C. You can imagine that in a B2C retail environment, engagement over RTPM is a must-have; the whole eCommerce platform begs for RTPM and it is unimaginable if it’s not in use.

call center2. Call Center: The call center, together with the web, is the next channel we see most in RTPM. With call center the typical use cases are aimed at helping the call center agent promote the right product or service to the customer, with real-time contextual data constantly feeding the engine for relevant messages. Call center agents need eyes and ears to do their work properly – ears for listening and understanding and eyes for seeing scenarios and customer behavior – all in real-time. RTPM capabilities help the agent to better understand the customer and most importantly be relevant to the customer. In the case of call center, CRM integration is most common, including CRM systems such as SugarCRM.

3. Branch Office: Initially, more traditional channels were blended with an outbound marketing approach, taking the first steps towards RTPM. The branch office channel, where face-to-face connections are still made (yes that still exists!) has existed since the start of B2C business and is still actively used.

4. ATM: The ATM channel in the financial industry is a geo dependent channel. Because of the limited time customers spend using an ATM – their most common use is to “get money and leave” – there’s a small window of time for personalized messaging.

In banking, where the online channel has drastically impacted the number of physical branches, RTPM is still being implemented in branches. As an example, a bank in the Netherlands revived their branch offices as a competitive differentiator from large banks that had closed their branches, appealing to customers who still want personal contact when it concerns their money. In Western Europe, several of our customers have implemented RTPM solutions, including one of the largest banks in France. Furthermore, agents in branch offices require a means for agent optimization, think of personal banking scenarios, something we can do with our IBM Contact Optimization solution.

5. Email: Email is used by virtually all brands and is the most common channel for direct engagement, even though it is traditionally used in a batch fashion. In RTPM scenarios, emails are normally triggered by some type of event, and the email send becomes transactional. Email enables end-to-end personalization, including iterative personalization of the email, landing page and offers – all based on the customer’s engagement. The success of email depends on the email getting opened and the actions that follow. Therefore, the subject line of the email alone needs to be appeal to get people to read it. Writing a catchy email subject line can be a profession on its own. If you want to learn more about email personalization, read our 2015 email benchmarking study to see industry stats and best practices.

Personalization-mobile6. SMS & Mobile: SMS is a channel that seems to be more region dependent; we see a lot of uptick and usage of event-driven scenarios where SMS is the main channel, especially in Asia-Pacific. SMS is often used to drive usage of mobile phones. By analyzing customers spend, the mobile carrier alerts the customer when their limit is nearly reached, driving them to add to their account balance. Often bonuses are applied if they respond in a certain time-frame. We see several of our customers using a combination of our IBM Interact and our IBM Opportunity Detect capabilities for these scenarios – Opportunity Detect for the event detection over time and Interact for the real-time engagement resulting from the analysis.

7. Social and Media (Earned and Paid): Social channels are used in scenarios where paid and earned media needs to be used for additional awareness. The use case I see often is that of paid advertising. When I searched for a flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta then navigated to sites not affiliated with the airline, ads for the same flight kept following me. This is a common use case and not always implemented in real-time, although the bidding for the available slots on third-party media is often done in millisecond, real-time bidding scenarios.

We have seen use cases arise from our RTPM customers around the world in all of these channels – check out my LinkedIn article: How marketers around the world are leveraging real-time personalization.

If you are ready to launch your own RTPM campaign, download our Real-Time Personalization ebook to learn how to get started.