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Connecting data effectively to understand customers’ needs and drive personalization

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When it comes to harnessing the power of data to understand customer needs and personalize their experiences, the path is as intricate as it is transformative. It all comes down to crafting a detailed map of customer interactions, preferences, and behaviors across all touchpoints. 

I’m Michael Nevski, Director of Global Insights at Visa. Throughout my career, I've delved into various layers of data analytics and consumer research, each layer revealing deeper insights into consumer behavior and market dynamics. My journey has shown me the significant impact of strategic data utilization and the potential of personalized customer engagement. 

In this article, I’ll share how leveraging third-party data and developing robust analytical frameworks can revolutionize our approach to personalization, ensuring that our strategies not only meet but anticipate the needs of our customers.

The impact of personalization

Before going deeper into the role of third-party data and personalization strategies, I want to highlight the significant impact personalization has across various industries. 

According to a McKinsey study, personalization could generate between $1.7 trillion and $3 trillion in value, particularly in the retail sector, which is most influenced by customization efforts. 

Additionally, with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), we’re potentially poised to unlock tremendous value for consumers and our clients as businesses continue to evolve.

Building a framework for personalization

When discussing personalization, it's essential to establish a sturdy framework that guides our strategies and initiatives. 

According to insights from that McKinsey study, the architecture of our solutions and the operating model should adhere to straightforward principles designed to optimize our efforts.

The four pillars of personalization

  1. Data foundation: The cornerstone of effective personalization is the creation of a Customer Data Platform (CDP). This platform provides a comprehensive 360-degree view of our customers, enabling us to understand and anticipate their needs comprehensively.
  2. Decisioning: This stage involves utilizing advanced analytics and machine learning to develop sophisticated customer scoring systems. These systems are crucial for flagging, signalization, and triggering in real time. For example, they can indicate when a lead is ready to make a purchase or when their propensity to consider our brand has increased.
  3. Design: Our approach to content creation relies on a content factory model, digital asset management, and agile marketing techniques. These methods drive experimentation and A/B testing, allowing us to tailor our efforts to meet evolving consumer needs effectively.
  4. Distribution: The final stage involves delivering personalized marketing and experiences across various channels. The insights gathered from these interactions are fed back into the Customer Data Platform. This continual loop of feedback and adjustment helps us refine our offerings, ensuring we meet customer expectations with relevant content, product reviews, or features they seek.

The challenge of utilizing diverse data sources

Currently, in the US domestic market, many organizations primarily focus on either quantitative or qualitative research methodologies. These companies often provide insights through either a serviced or self-service approach. However, there’s a notable gap in how we use varied data sources to craft customized experiences.

The main focus remains largely on first-hand research, with less attention given to the integration of third-party or secondary data sources. This oversight occurs even though third-party cookies, a significant data source for many businesses, are set to become obsolete. 

The impending changes in data privacy regulations, particularly the restrictions on tracking by major platforms like Google and Facebook, pose a significant challenge for data-driven marketing.

We need to be proactive in adapting our strategies to these changes. It's crucial to explore how we can effectively utilize third-party data within our ecosystems and leverage artificial intelligence to bridge the gaps created by new data privacy norms. This adaptation will ensure we continue to deliver personalized experiences to our customers, even as traditional data sources become less accessible.

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Written by:

Michael Nevski

Michael Nevski

Director of Global Insights at Visa

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Connecting data effectively to understand customers’ needs and drive personalization