With digital channels now the primary point of contact for customers – and, in many cases, the only form of contact – providing them with relevant, tailored content has become critical for businesses that want to stand out from the crowd.
For businesses with restrictive legacy content management systems (CMS) platforms, however, it is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with the rapidly-changing market – and the inability to personalise content is creating operational drag that can affect customer loyalty and damage brands.
Today’s most effective customer relationships are built by not just delivering content, notes Adobe APAC product manager and regional evangelist Mark Szulc, but by providing flexible, personalised online experiences that support overall brand objectives.
“The end goal is to have a conversation with your consumers, rather than just throwing content at them,” he explains.
“If it were a face-to-face conversation, you’d go back to them and say ‘I remember you bought this product and love it, and you should know we’ve just released this new one as well’. For personalisation online, the experience should be just the same.”
To make this possible, IT departments must play a part.
Building a personalised experience
Just 5 per cent of respondents to a 2021 Content Marketing Institute (CMI) survey said they always build personalised experiences into their content planning process – with 21 per cent doing so frequently, and a third admitting they rarely or never personalise their customer communications.
Little wonder then that only 22 per cent said their organisation is extremely or very successful in strategically managing content across their enterprise.
Such shortcomings often stem from the persistence of legacy content-marketing processes, Szulc says, where companies build content and do A-B testing to slowly figure out the best look and feel.
Modern systems need to push that process “More upstream in the workflow,” he explains, “Where rather than pulling the content later and rethinking it, I’m always thinking about different variations of it while in the moment.
“The idea is that the people who actually understand their customers can write their content without worrying about being a creative or an IT specialist.”
That’s much harder with legacy content technology stacks built around the delivery of static content. Organisations can struggle to transition these sometimes highly customised platforms to deliver flexible, personalised customer experiences tailored on the fly for each channel or device.
Cloud enabling data-driven personalisation
For companies to foster effective and responsive two-way conversations, they also need to understand their customers – including by collecting and managing relevant supporting data.
These days, effective personalisation requires an investment in the collection and management of structured data that can be used to shape personalised, omni-channel communications that engage customers where they live, work, and play.
Companies with legacy CMS environments will find adding modern data-analytics capabilities complex and burdensome – and their personalisation efforts will suffer as a result.
Headless cloud-based content management and data management systems, by contrast, are much more scalable and enable the building of easier, robust processes for data collection, analysis, and personalisation to deliver omni-channel experiences.
With a headless design that delivers content without mandating the presentation layer, those processes adapt to new platforms as they’re developed – ensuring that online experiences can span web, portable, wearable and other devices to get the right content where, when, and how customers need it.
Combining Adobe Experience Manager content management suite with the Adobe customer data platform allows companies to gain rich data insights about their customers’ activities and preferences, with profiles updated in real time based on customer activity via CRM, web, mobile, augmented reality applications, chat and other channels.
To ensure respect for customer privacy preferences, the platform incorporates strong privacy controls to help businesses meet privacy and governance requirements – enabling marketing and IT teams to spend less time managing data and more time developing rich customer experiences.
Building a personalisation culture
Once they have the right content and data management platforms, Szulc says, organisations of all kinds can quickly start building engaging content that is seamlessly personalised according to each customer’s preferences.
Experimentation is key: “it’s all about finding the burning platform for the business,” he explains, “And seeing where the pain is now and where you can get a quick result.”
“These are not waterfall projects that take 12 to 24 months to deliver; they are quick sprints to say ‘OK, let’s try something and prove that it works’. That benefit typically funds the next round, and it’s ongoing so you get a very quick return.”
As modern technology stacks resolve the frustrations of legacy content-management platforms, companies can find that their customer culture rapidly changes to reflect the new possibilities.
Greater alignment around marketing and content strategies across many levels of the organisation, for example, drives new thinking around the potential uses of data and shortens the time to deliver ever more-effective personalisation.
“A big part of it is around how companies think about their consumer experience,” Szulc explains.
“A lot of times, people have potentially had the vision, but haven’t really thought about the execution level required. The key to success is thinking about that gradual change, and allowing for that.”
To learn more about Adobe’s data management and content personalisation capabilities, click here.