Is your business set up to thrive in a customer-centric world? If the rapid pace of innovation has taught us anything, it’s to recognize that what is working for us today will likely not be enough to win tomorrow’s customers. As more brands move to a digital-first model, consumer expectations for a dynamic and personalized experience continue to rise. Marketers now understand that in order to build customer relationships that stand the test of time, they need to deliver the right experiences across all channels, and at increasingly precise moments.

This is difficult enough to do for a small test campaign – nearly impossible for many organizations to accomplish at an enterprise scale. And adding another layer of complexity, we now have a new trend to navigate: a key source of data – third-party cookies – is going away, making first-party data (and privacy compliance) ever more critical to success. You may already have a basic customer data platform (CDP) in place to unify information from disparate enterprise systems. The question is, does your CDP have the power to drive the kinds of rich customer experiences (CX) that will determine success in the future?

When you combine the data management capabilities of a CDP with the decision-making advantages of artificial intelligence (AI) and then take it all the way through to orchestration with a marketing hub, you have a futureproof approach to the next era of CX.

The role of AI in customer data and marketing

Artificial intelligence helps marketers in many ways by automating standard workflows, creating customer segments, and modifying page elements to deliver personalized experiences. Increasingly, we see machine learning (a type of Narrow AI) coming into play to analyze large volumes of data and accelerate the process of testing and refining campaigns.

However, this is only the beginning. As AI technology advances, it will shape digital marketing in new and exciting ways by enabling real-time decision-making, hyper-personalization, and truly exceptional customer experiences. Let’s take a closer look:

Get ready for real-time decisioning

Decision management, or decisioning, is a term that describes the process of blending large datasets with your unique business rules and predictive analytics to make smart decisions about the right next step for any individual customer. Think of decisioning as the brain behind personalized marketing. For example, it can reveal what topics to introduce to a customer, which channels are most likely to reach that person, and the best time to initiate the communication. Ideally, all of these choices should happen in real time.

A CDP that is powered by AI is key to game-changing decision management because it means you can make moment-to-moment changes in content, channels, offers, and more. Marketers no longer have the luxury of taking weeks or months to evaluate a campaign and update the messaging. They need to have access to real-time insights about their customers’ every interaction and make adjustments on the fly. While it takes a fundamental shift in people, operations, and technology to acquire a real-time decisioning capability, having a smart hub CDP that can predict, test, and optimize every customer interaction is a good place to start.

Prepare for hyper-personalization

Personalization is the marketer’s answer to keeping up with rising expectations. It’s the only way to break through layers of digital noise. According to McKinsey & Company, personalization at scale has the potential to create $1.7 trillion to $3 trillion in new value. And SmarterHQ reports that 70% of millennials are frustrated with brands sending irrelevant emails. We see time and again that meaningful and timely experiences lead to higher customer engagement, reduced customer acquisition costs, and faster conversion rates.

Many organizations start with basic personalization, such as greeting a customer by first name or offering a different home page experience by audience segment. The next wave of personalization will use AI to take these concepts much further. Understanding the individual’s full history of interactions with the brand will enable marketers to present hyper-relevant messaging and experiences. Some experts now refer to such sophisticated recommendation engines and geotargeting practices as “hyper-personalization.” Going forward, CDPs should be able to support this level of personalization for all segments.

Help customers find what they need, faster

We’ve established that your smart hub CDP will be able to capture, unify, and activate omnichannel customer data. How does this lead to exceptional customer experiences? It happens through more accurate customer profiles that are generated from a unified view of the customer. It’s the left hand knowing what the right is doing, so to speak. Armed with this knowledge and insight, brands can help customers find what they want without making them waste time on endless searches or trying, in vain, to reach a live person for support.

With insights from a powerful smart hub CDP, you can map out customer journeys and predict the best course of action, whatever the circumstances. You’ll be able to harness first-, second- and third-party data (while it lasts) to reveal hidden insights, while also implementing a “privacy-by-design” model.

Try this collaborative approach and see how an AI-powered CDP leads to reimagining the customer experience in ways that drive value across sales, marketing, and support teams – all at once.

Get in touch to learn more.

David Schweer is Vice President of Product Marketing at Sitecore. Connect with him on LinkedIn