In the late 90s, Martha Rogers and Don Peppers published a book called The One to One Future. The book proposed a revolutionary marketing approach: Instead of aiming to reach as many people as possible, businesses should focus on one customer at a time and build a relationship with them.
In the 20 years that followed, marketers struggled to make this dream a reality. Technological limitations and organizational silos meant that personalization never really came to life in the way Peppers and Rogers had imagined.
But developments in recent years have changed the landscape. Finally, companies can use technology to personalize their digital products and experiences.
That's how Brian Cahak, founder of Zilker Trail Growth & Innovation, set the scene during our recent webinar, dubbing the current phase of advanced digitization “digital 2.0.” Matt Killen, Senior Director of Growth and Retention at Audacy, agrees. “Now [personalization is] finally something that feels actionable,” Matt says. “We have event data and we can assign that data on an individual, one-to-one basis."
The webinar joined Brian, Matt, and Eric Christensen, enterprise solutions consultant at Braze, with Amplitude’s Pragnya Paramita, group product marketing manager, to discuss how to use the latest technologies to better target customers. The below collects their insights and advice.
- The opportunities and challenges of our current digital era
- How customer centricity drives retention
- Best practices for success, including:
- Cross-team collaboration
- Data hygiene
Watch the full webinar: How to Create a Customer-Centric Culture: The Secret to Long-Term Retention.
A customer-centric approach
When it comes to long-term growth, our speakers agree, retention is key. “[Data shows that] you have to acquire three new customers… to get the value of retaining one,” explains Pragnya.
The best way to drive retention? “The [most] effective brands are making their customers feel like they're at the center of the wider brand initiatives,” Eric says.
That sort of customer approach means building customer relationships through personalization. To do this effectively, it’s important to understand your customer: who they are, what they do, and why they interact with your products.
Eric notes that the brands that excel at personalization go beyond using someone’s first name in their content. Rather they focus on customizing the entire brand experience to match each person’s goals and needs. As a result, customers become more engaged and retain better.
In successful organizations, teams work together to develop a cohesive customer experience.
Eric recommends that performance and creative marketing teams work together to create a unified story that lasts through the customer journey. “The data teams and the creative teams should not be siloed,” he observes.
Audacy, Matt notes, previously struggled with one-to-one data. Though the company could get an overall picture of how users were listening to content, it didn’t know what was happening on an individual user level. Now, Audacy can understand and engage individual customers. What changed? Matt believes it was improved collaboration across teams.
The importance of prioritization
One challenge with personalization is the sheer amount of data available. “All this proliferation of digital touchpoints, it's really kind of exploded,” Brian notes.
He helps clients avoid spreading themselves too thin by setting boundaries. He suggests focusing on the areas most impactful to your organization—“big enough that it matters.”
Brian advises teams to begin by focusing on one touchpoint, then show success to the organization before moving to other parts of the customer journey.
Creativity and curiosity
At Audacy, Matt's team has often found more options available for personalization than they initially thought possible. It’s why he advises teams to stay curious.
“I think the most effective teams here are going to be very curious,” Eric agrees, adding you “never say no to an idea.”
He recommends holding open brainstorming sessions. Later, you can assess if those ideas are feasible.
Foundational data hygiene
Companies have even more data, and maintaining the quality of that data is crucial for success.
By working on data hygiene, said Matt, Audacy could track the right events, understand customer engagement, and reduce noise. The team chose the most meaningful events and made sure to understand how each event was documented and understood. They also removed any outdated or duplicate events left over from previous iterations of the Audacy app.
According to Matt, Amplitude helped with the data taxonomy process: “Amplitude was a really big part of this in guiding our teams into the way the data would need to be structured.” Brian added that Amplitude's charts, graphs, and notebook functionality make navigating and collaborating on data easy for his team.
A culture of testing
According to the panel, testing is key to creating those retention-building customer experiences. Testing helps you to iterate, ultimately leading to better strategies, products, and experiences.
Eric recommends instead of just learning that X number of customers are abandoning their cart, ask why it's happening. From there, develop and test your hypotheses.
Pragnya emphasizes the value of a fast feedback loop because it enables you to learn from test results and apply that knowledge promptly. “Having a quick feedback loop is something that we can expect with platforms that are well integrated, like Braze and Amplitude,” she explains. “You can really validate and test out whether those hypotheses are actually helping you move the needle on these critical numbers.”
The full webinar is available to watch on demand: How to Create a Customer-Centric Culture: The Secret to Long-Term Retention.