With personalized experiences now the expectation for a vast majority of customers, the goal of any marketing team should be crafting highly targeted content for specific audiences — no matter who or where they might be. You need a personalization plan that puts people first.

Effective personalization really boils down to high-quality content, delivered efficiently and directly. High-quality content is also customer-centric. It identifies needs that the customer might have and speaks directly to them, in their own language and through their preferred channels, about how they might fulfill them.

But you can’t create personalized content without knowing who you’re creating content for. This is where building data-driven customer profiles can really help.

The evolution of customer profiling

Not that long ago customer data was being gathered via face-to-face interviews and paper surveys, meaning a lot of assumptions had to be made when designing products, services, and content. But then, in the late 1990s, software designer Alan Cooper presented the idea of “personas” to the design community, suggesting professionals use them as a tool for thinking about segments of their audience as living, breathing people, with goals, needs, and desires.

Personas remain popular and incredibly useful for today’s marketers and salespeople targeting the market at large. But today, it is possible to go beyond basic customer segmentation. No matter if you’re B2C or B2B, you can now collect an incredible amount of useful customer data, and — with the right tools and techniques — transform that insight into powerful content.

Today, the power of data is helping us create 1:1 customer profiles, unlocking more effective, dynamic personalization. 

Creating dynamic content for real people

It is those businesses taking their personalization effort further, owning detailed and dynamic customer profiles, that are leading the market. While less than 40% of businesses are using even the most basic data to support their personalization programs, experience leaders are leveraging the full potential of data and technology.

Going beyond simple segmentation by demographics or geographical location, these businesses are able to create content that is as dynamic as their customers.

Dynamic personalization — an omnichannel personalization program that evolves with your customers — enables you to deliver targeted content with pin-point precision. To reach this state, your business will have to supplement “persona thinking” with customer intelligence, analytics, and “journey-orientated” content.

Go omnichannel for a more personal journey

Embracing omnichannel marketing is key to dynamic personalization. Your goal should be to have a 360-degree view of your customers and their journeys.

Be sure to collect customer data from as many channels as possible, unifying them with device IDs, cookies, POS data, loyalty program information, and similar unique identifiers. All of this, when combined, can help you create a more complete, dynamic customer profile for known customers.

Dynamic personalization needs to account for more than just the buyer’s characteristics, it must be relevant for where they are in the customer journey. You can use the data profile you’ve built to predict intent and deliver contextualized content.

You could, for example, offer an automated special discount code to a customer that has been authenticated on your website, read a number of related blogs, visited your retail store, and then browsed a product page. This tactic, which goes beyond simple persona or segment-based offerings, could really increase conversions.

Meet today’s high CX expectations

Today’s customers expect you to treat them as “a person, not a number”. With advances in omnichannel marketing technology, it’s easier to deliver on this expectation as long as you have the data-driven content to authentically connect with them.

Treat your customers as the individuals they are by digging deep into the data. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get to know them — and impress them.

There’s more to effective personalization than meets the eye. Go deeper than generic segmentation and offer truly personal experiences with our new ebook “Powering dynamic personalization through data”.

Zarnaz Arlia is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Sitecore.