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How to Go From Personalization to Contextualization

Bart Dirksen

Customers are expecting a more contextual experience beyond their first name or next product to buy. They’re expecting contextualization which adapts and aligns with their customer lifecycle stage and journey they’re in. This poses an important new challenge.

As customer data has become available in abundance, we gained significant capabilities to tailor our messaging for customers on multiple channels.

Many of these personalization scenarios were implemented at a basic level of some sort. Think of the common scenarios as ‘hi {firstname}’ in emails or the product promotion banner on a website. As we are moving beyond the easy-to-implement scenarios, new challenges are on the horizon. Customers are expecting a more contextual experience beyond their first name or next product to buy. They’re expecting contextualization which adapts and aligns with their customer lifecycle stage and journey they’re in. This poses an important new challenge.

Structured customer data, scattered content

Our focus has been on the implementation of modern data technologies to handle customer data and interaction. These solutions are great at data collection, segmentation, analysis, and sometimes even AI. But where’s the content coming from?

Content has been abundantly entered into these data systems for years. Each interaction on a specific segment goes with content. This has resulted in an unmanageable explosion of content scattered across siloed systems, where content is piling up without structure and much-needed management capabilities. It results in duplicates or variants of already existing content stored over and over again; a complete nightmare for information architects and content managers, responsible for consistency and management of content in the organization. Living copies of content across the organization form a risk for accuracy, correctness, consistency, branding, and governance.


Moving personalization beyond the obvious

But, then again, existing content solutions haven’t really evolved to support these systems with proper content capabilities. Marketing systems that are serving data-driven interactions require smaller pieces of content that are flexible in form and composition. Traditional content systems deliver larger pieces of content or a limited number of smaller content pieces and only those that are stored in their database. This macro content, such as a webpage or large article, is fine for the channels they serve (often some channels like f.e. web and mobile) but won’t work when you want to service all channels.

All these limitations aren’t acceptable for marketing systems. A different kind of content management is needed that adheres to smaller, highly structured pieces of content and supports the versatility needed to build the best digital multi-experiences.

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