Digital Personalization at Scale: Marketing’s Holy Grail

Digital Personalization at Scale: Marketing’s Holy Grail

Think Tank: Mckinsey & Company – Report summarized by : Bummary

3-seconds is all it takes customers to decide whether they like your marketing message.

In an era of instant gratification, and customers being bombarded with messages; personalization, or the tailoring of messages or offers based on an individual’s actual behavior goes a long way.

Most companies are struggling to scale across all the ways they engage with customers. These companies have access to the right tools, but for many, the core challenge lies in improving the marketing department’s processes and practices to use ‘personalization’ driven approach for customer messaging. The key benefits of personalization include increased engagement, and an ability to anticipate the needs and demands of consumers in the future.

Personalized messaging and offers could yield cost savings of c.50% and help drive revenue growth by 5 to 15%. This will also make marketing dollars efficient to the tune of 15 to 30%.

Four step process for successful digital personalization at scale

  • Study behavioral data to detect patterns and identify key value drivers
  • Plan pro-actively to read and deploy solutions based on customer signals
  • Empower a small group of right people to take quick decisions
  • Focus on technology and processes that help teams hit the ground faster

Behavioral analysis

Analyzing behavioral data lies at the heart of building a ‘personalized’ customer experience system. First, group together people who have similar spending patterns e.g. young female professionals who are early adopters of the affordable ‘private label’ clothing companies meeting their demands for modern and contemporary styles. Most companies try to identify 8 to 10 groups of customers before moving on to develop a 1:1 marketing plan.

Next, build customer journeys for each segment by studying all the interactions a specific target group has with the company. This will enable organizations to create thousands of microsegments that lie at the heart of creating a 1:1 interactive platform.

Read customer usage patterns

Customers reveal their intention through online activities like purchases, online browsing, and social media posting, liking and sharing. A company needs to read these signals and build communication that are personalized, and have the necessary triggers to get the customer do a specific thing. Be proactive, and build a library of trigger messages matched to the individual signals. Triggers messages could be a combination of images, videos, titles or offers that require a mix and match approach to solve the problem.

Adding a touch of creativity to your problem-solving process, and backing marketing message creation with sound data analysis are the key to writing your marketing communication for 1:1 experience.


It typically takes up to five iterations to refine a personalized trigger and gain c.80% of its potential value.

Case in point: A renowned retailer made four different iterations of next-product-to-buy email until it found the winning formula, which yielded twice the impact of the first iteration.

Once a signal and associated trigger gains validity, it becomes a business rule. All future customers who exhibit similar behaviors will automatically receive appropriate trigger messages.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist

Build an agile team

Build a core team of 8 to 15 people. A campaign manager leading the group along with people from creative, digital media, analytics, operations, and IT. A small e-commerce firm can make do with a single team but in larger entities, this number could be 8 or 10 times with multiple smaller teams working simultaneously.

For this small group of people to be successful, the top management needs to offer direct sponsorship to the team so that bureaucratic frameworks can give way to faster and agile decisions. It is not a task force where some people in the organization are coming together for a few hours in a week but a full-time engagement where the output is measured in terms of actual realized business gains than mere improvements in KPIs like page views, bounce rates or engagement.

The job of this team is to build ‘materially better’ customer experience and actual dollars.

The goal of this team is to continually look for signals and make personalized communiqué with the customers to drive business results.

Leverage technology

Using technology to speed up decision-making and make these small teams effective is the final point in making personalized marketing at scale a reality. There are millions of solutions around marketing automation but aside the hype, they do no more than just spurt millions of spammy messaging which does not help achieve the desired goals of perfecting ‘personalization’.

Teams should carefully choose the tech stack that can help them find signals and build triggers for personalized marketing automation. Therefore, this team goal should drive the evaluation and selection of appropriate technologies that act as enablers.


Taking up the task of transforming your marketing activities from a calendar driven model to a more iterative and 1:1 model makes many marketers dangle themselves between marketing budget estimations and tech stack selection. Rather, the initial days or months should be focused on starting lean and quickly assembling a team of high impact individuals focusing to find activities that lead to top-line growth. Overtime, people

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