Path to Marketing’s Holy Grail: Digital Personalization At Scale

digital personalization

McKinsey & Company recently published an insightful article titled “Marketing’s Holy Grail: Digital personalization at scale” (the key term here: “at scale”!). I liked it so much, that I felt it was worthy of a deep dive. In my view, it’s perfect validation of what we do for a living at ActionIQ!

Digital personalization has been a hot topic even before the Internet existed. The reality is that Marketers have always been playing catch-up.

In reality, a marketing strategy should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. Adapting to a personalized marketing digital strategy is what’s going to set your company apart from your competition.

Having a tailored experience  – a real one to one marketing experience – can help increase engagement, improve brand loyalty, and help your business rise above the rest. There are many companies today that promise “Personalization”, and they all fall short (my humble opinion, but true).

Don’t take my word for it. Check your inbox or visit your favorite web site. How personalized is your experience? Exactly.

To put it bluntly, personalization today sucks (sorry for the technical term). There are many obvious issues with how most companies approach personalization today, to mention just a few:

  • Customer history across all channels usually is not included in personalization
  • Personalization strategies are channel specific, not customer-centric
  • Artificial Intelligence is used sparingly in personalization campaigns
  • Personalization is stale and far from being informed by customer actions in real time

McKinsey & Co. suggests a four step approach to achieving personalization at scale.

Step One. Getting all the customer data together – especially the behavioral data. 

This is key because if you rely only on transaction data you don’t have a rich enough picture of the customer journey to personalize at scale.

Step Two. Making triggers more effective.

Triggers today are mostly about “explicit intent” – like an abandoned cart. In other words, triggers where the customer takes an action that makes intent obvious. These triggers are well understood and important, but really only the tip of the iceberg. True marketing personalization comes from behavioral triggers. These are triggers based on non-explicit behavior (e.g. based on browsing history, campaign response, call center logs/notes, etc). Behavioral triggers know what the customer wants even before the customer herself realizes it. And because behavior reveals so much more than the odd abandoned cart, you need many more than just a handful – effective web personalization comes when you have 100s or 1000s of behavioral triggers. And, of course, you need to do it in a way that is manageable with the staff that you have today.

Step Three. Allowing your organization to focus on web Personalization and move fast.

By empowering a small set of people to experiment and find out what works quickly, you can achieve results in weeks not months or years.

Step Four. Bringing the right technology to enable all of the above is key.

This is where I blow my horn, and the Marketing Activation Platform comes into play to create a personalization strategy. Think about it – how much time and resources would it take you today to:

  • Connect ALL data together – both online and offline
  • Create and manage 1000s of behavioral segments & triggers
  • Connect all your channels together – even the ones that are managed by different services or vendors
  • Deploy AI into your campaigns
  • Democratize access to the customer journey data to everyone in your team

ActionIQ makes these capabilities possible and minimizes time & cost relative to the traditional approach of “throwing bodies at the problem.” We provide marketers with unprecedented freedom to use their customer data to revolutionize customer experience and boost their sales & retention numbers. Through a personalized experience, our team of digital marketers helps companies create a digital marketing strategy that works. We also enable analysts to automate all the boring data work and focus on strategic insights and high value add activities.

This was always my vision when I started the company, and our team of digital marketers have been executing on it with some of the world’s best brands. I am happy McKinsey & Co provided the validation that we are on the right track.


George Phipps
George Phipps
Director of Product Marketing
George is dedicated to educating enterprise businesses about the impact on customer experience and organizational performance enabled by centralizing customer data. He works closely with creative and prolific engineers, UX designers, marketers to help design and enhance technologies that improve access to customers' data.
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