April 2020
How to Meet Consumer Desire for Personalized Engagement  

By Rose Anthony

Most marketers lack the necessary data, analytics and real-time systems needed to respond quickly to consumer behavior and intent. Only 3 percent of marketers believe they are exceptionally effective in turning data and intelligence into marketing actions, while 72 percent admit it takes them too long to act on insights.

As a result, 81 percent of the 150 marketing executives surveyed by the CMO Council, in partnership with Catalina, say they are challenged to meet consumer expectations for personalized engagement.

“Brands and retailers have not yet closed the gap between consumer insight and shopper action and are, therefore, missing opportunities to respond in the moment of consumer need to influence purchase decisions, grow loyalty and improve engagement,” said Dave Murray of the CMO Council.

Such action is especially important during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic when the rules of personalized shopper engagement are being re-written – if they are applicable at all.

“We’ve paused some of our advertising to spend time on social listening so we can hear what people are doing,” said April Carlisle, VP, NRS, Shopper Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. She took part in a virtual roundtable entitled “Rethinking Shopper Engagement during the Covid-19 Crisis” that was hosted by the Path-to-Purchase Institute.

“We’re thinking about our messaging in phases as to what shoppers will be receptive to – what we want to do in the short term, and mid-short term,” Carlisle said.

The marketers surveyed for the “Measuring Marketing in the Moment” report from the CMO Council said they see critical data sources and capabilities like multi-touch attribution, digital engagement insight, real-time shopper behavior data and automated response capabilities as major needs to close the gap.

“Understanding intent—the ‘why’ behind the buy—lies at the heart of personalizing engagement and reaching the consumer in their moment of need,” said Marta Cyhan, CMO of Catalina, a provider of shopper intelligence and personalized digital media for CPG brands and retailers. “Many of our most successful brand partners are tapping into insights tied to motivations like all-natural, organic and social good to engage shoppers at a more personal level, rather than buying media based purely on demographics. For example, factoring in whether someone seeks protein, prefers plant-based ingredients or avoids GMOs, and then quickly measuring the reach of those shoppers and tracking their response to a campaign in near real-time, is delivering better campaign results and valuable new insights for CPGs.”

Nic Umana, Global Digital Insights Lead at Mars Wrigley, saud, “The consumer journey is no longer predictable or linear, rather we have to find those moments of discovery where we can deliver a smile and, hopefully, a chocolate,” says Umana “We have prioritized 22 moments that we think represent the biggest opportunity for conversion, either to eat or buy.”

Jonathan Lorenzini, founder of Advertising and Marketing Analysts and former leader at Facebook and Google, said many personalization and marketing efforts are sidetracked by hierarchical thinking that is slow to understand and react to consumer insights. “One of the biggest problems that we see structurally is organizations making budgetary decisions at a very high level,” Lorenzini says. “They’re far removed from the learnings of those closest to consumers — the people operating on a day-to-day engagement. This top-down planning makes it very difficult to have flexibility.”

Other key findings:

  • 71 percent say their personalization capabilities are evolving too slowly, stymied by an inability to effectively measure results, a lack of the right talent and budget, and an inability to access the necessary data

  • Only 5 percent say they are satisfied with their current metrics for measuring campaign effectiveness.

  • Multi-touch attribution is viewed, by far, as the most valuable data marketers need to improve their effectiveness, followed by digital channel engagement, location, and real-time shopper behavior insights

  • Just 10 percent are able to immediately move from intelligence gathering to marketing action

  • Half said they cannot or do not adjust advertising and media mix mid-campaign to optimize results.

The research concluded that the right data, analytics and marketing partner can help brands tap into a shopper’s DNA to a shopper’s purchase motivations, target their preferences to enhance relevance and make real-time pivots to reach them.

“Marketers need to prioritize winning in the moment by gathering, understanding and responding to buyer intent data and utilizing multi-touch attribution and automated capabilities to respond more quickly to the shopper and to optimize their campaigns in-flight,” added Murray.

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