Ninety-four percent of senior-level executives believe personalization is critical or important for reaching customers because it differentiates the customer experience and drives better sales and marketing outcomes. But PwC Digital IQ research also indicates that most marketers don’t execute personalization very well.
To uncover some of the secrets to profitably enabling and executing personalized content experiences that leverage customer data and insights, I will be hosting a panel discussion among CMOs—“Personalization: Fusing Creative & Analytics”—at the DMA’s invitation-only Strategic Summit on Oct. 17.
Below is an interview with one of our panelists, Mike Marcellin, CMO of networking technology manufacturer Juniper Networks, in which he shares insights about enabling a content supply chain that supports personalization at scale.
Diorio: As CMO of a $5 billion company that seeks to transform the economics of networking in the connected world, what does personalization mean to you in your business model?
Marcellin: Historically, our model for delivering personalization was through high-touch human interactions with salespeople. They’re the ultimate personalization vehicle. Today, digitally empowered customers are much better educated and learn from many places. So creating competitive differentiation depends on both art and science, elegantly blending the high-touch sales interactions with relevant, personalized, and consistent engagement in digital marketing, mobile, and social touch points.
Diorio: At Juniper, where in the go-to-market process can personalized content experiences make the biggest impact—in terms of differentiation, measurable sales outcomes, and customer satisfaction?
Marcellin: I like to use the customer conversation as the design point for any marketing-led personalization efforts. In our view, we have 2,000 content creators—salespeople—worldwide who can inform my much smaller marketing team. The challenge and opportunity we have is to use feedback from real customer conversations to feed the scalable marketing systems that deliver customized experiences in digital marketing, social media, and sales-enablement channels. To do this, we’re funding three marketing-led initiatives that are creating the foundation for delivering personalized content experiences.
First, we’ve built an internal tool we call the “Network of Knowledge” that mines client conversations that are happening in sales every day to fuel our editorial and content creation agenda. In parallel, we have a social-listening team reporting on customer conversations in social media in real time. And in the last six months, we’ve assigned a team of data scientists to systematically look at unstructured data to discern customer sentiment, needs, and hot-button issues. Combined, these three marketing-led investments provide the inputs to a systematic way to define an editorial agenda that allows us to create, personalize, and share content with customers.
Our road map is to very quickly build more systemic interfaces that feed every customer touch point with relevant and personalized content. We’re not there yet, but this will include owned digital marketing assets, such as our website, digital and social media, and our sales-enablement tools.
Diorio: What will be the basis for targeting all that personalized content to ensure it hits the mark?
Marcellin: Because we have the benefit of some very large customers, about five years ago we instituted account-based marketing on those very large accounts. We’ve embedded dedicated marketing folks into the account teams, and they are truly part of the customer team. This gives us a profitable way to define account plans, target buyer personas based on job roles and responsibilities within those accounts, and learn about their needs, sentiment, responsiveness, and behavior. While effective, it’s human-intensive, so it cannot scale to meet our broader customer base.
So where our personalized content can really shine is to take what we have learned through account-based marketing and find ways to replicate and scale across the vast majority of our accounts using digital marketing technology and scalable outbound marketing tactics. And we are targeting our outbound marketing tactics—digital marketing and events—at specific job roles and pain points identified.