Perfecting Personalisation

Posted by Zykinder Aujla-Singh | 07-May-2021 16:46:08

In Nimbus Ninety’s Digital Trends Report 2021, joining up customer data was ranked by half of the respondents (51%) as one of the biggest business obstacles as customer interaction becomes increasingly virtual. This is a data problem that more often than not isolates the customer from the marketing planning process. So how can organisations utilise data to supercharge emotional engagement and boost lifetime value?

Organisations are not only struggling to accurately understand their customers but often accusations are made that the process of acquiring data insights is creepy. So how do organisations create end-to-end customer engagement that fulfils both the organisation’s and customer’s needs? Customer experience and personalisation professionals from across retail & FMCG joined this Nimbus Ninety discussion, delivered in partnership with Cheetah Digital, to explore the path to personalisation.



After some controversy regarding the importance of fizz during The Graped Crusader wine tasting session; Rachael Thornton, Head of Global Marketing Communications at Boden, took the reins to illustrate how Boden has taken on the task of perfecting the customer journey through personalisation.

There is a fundamental problem with the usual plan for marketing communications: the customer is not included within the planning process. In focussing on the areas of product, creative response and channel, there is a strong need to put the customer journey at the centre of marketing operations.

So how can this happen? By utilising personalisation and data. A new way of working can be developed that focuses on three areas that put the customer at the heart of the process:

  1. Testing and Reporting: This is done by utilising new reports and analysis tools to create customer segmentation and clustering.
  2. Customer Journey: It is important to build key customer touch-points across channels and a cross-channel communication plan.
  3. Persona Building: This is all about bringing clusters to life with data at the heart of the process, and creating content for the marketing campaigns based on these clusters.

The creation of personas is based on a variety of data sources, including previous purchasing behaviour. This allows for considered purchases to be identified and personalised communication campaigns and digital displays based on clusters to be created. These new campaigns can also be compared to hold out groups and BAU campaigns for effectiveness, based on KPIs such as spend per person.

Three challenges of this approach were identified. As expected, data management proved initially difficult such as manual segment updating, matching customer profiles and communication outputs. However, both Boden and event participants were surprised with the revelations that this transition was more of a “people” challenge rather than a data challenge. Both ways of working and people/resource management encountered the greatest difficulties due to the extra workload and challenges surrounding ownership and duplication of content and communications.

So what are the next steps to build on this customer journey? There are five key stages: 

  1. Complete analysis of all consumers 
  2. Collate results at a campaign level
  3. Assess the feasibility of this new method by asking about the accuracy of different methods in identifying customer needs, for example, product affinity segmentation test or utilising existing segmentation 
  4. Measure by spend per person KPI
  5. Assess how to roll out en masse to build customer loyalty.



After sampling some delicious New Zealand reds, Senior Marketing Strategist at Cheetah Digital, Laura Brown, considered the dilemma of how can businesses balance desires for personalised interactions with protecting customers' need for privacy. Following a Cheetah Digital survey, 67% of participants wanted to have a consistent experience regardless of where they interacted; but 52% found irrelevant content and offers irritating. For Laura, the results were clear: “customers have an expectation for a brand to know them- but in a way that is respectful and relevant.” This is evident in the survey results that had 77% of respondents rate past purchase recommendations as “cool”, but 74% rate targeted ads based on location, voice and cross-device data as “creepy”.

Trust for a brand that treats customers’ data with respect has increased from 8% to 14% in the last year. Using data to fuel experience hinges on creating a value exchange, with 56% of people were willing to share their data in exchange for a better service, for example, receiving discount coupons and rewards. So what is the path to personalisation? By enriching data systems through engagement tracking, preference centres, collection campaigns and drives.

The pillars of personalisation are identified as such:

  • Listen to the customers: by creating meaningful journeys and staying connected to produce relevant content and 1-2-1 interactions.
  • Change in the marketer’s mindset: the marketer should focus on building direct consumer relationships.
  • Give customers control: businesses need to be transparent with how they use their data so they can comfortably share their data.
  • Get the value exchange right.
  • Act on data in a relevant way.



Members split into discussion rooms to discuss at what point they were on their customer personalisation journeys. Interacting with a diverse group of industries, key cross-industry themes emerged:

  • Lifetime value: It was established that it is important to think beyond the medium-term towards the long-term when creating a customer personalisation journey. “How do you ensure you implement lifetime value for the customers you have?” and “what do we need to know about these users to increase lifetime value?” were considered key questions which will become more pressing in the next few years across all industries. It was also established that prioritising lifetime value also extends to retailers, distributors and partners and is equally important in B2B and B2C environments from both a resource and customer perspective.
  • The first conversion stage of the customer journey: The first conversion stage of the customer personalisation journey was considered the most important. It allows you to not only calculate next stage purchases, but it is necessary in order to retain customers for the future. “If you get it right upfront then they will stay” was the mantra here. Once you secure a consumer, you are able to lead them further down the customer journey and begin to create a storytelling narrative.
  • Market research: Although the group concedes that segmenting “is not just textbook stuff; it’s genuine stuff that works,” the strategy of creating personalisation strategies based upon these segments needs testing. It is important to know not only what your customers want, but what they do not want and not to just infer this. When creating customer personalisation journeys, companies need to figure out: “have they gone down that journey because they want to be there or because they have been led there by e-communications?” Customers appreciate being directly asked to avoid the fear of “creepy” data intrusion. However, if you do ask them, members agreed that “you have to make sure you act on it.”
  • Cross-brand ecosystems and end-to-end customer journeys: Creating customer data platforms that enable a cross-brand ecosystem. Understanding the end-to-end customer journey will allow businesses to take a holistic approach to customer needs and aid in helping the customer make the right choices for them. The future of marketing is taking journeys further by creating a multi-product differentiation personalisation journey from a mega-brand perspective.


This event was in partnership with Cheetah Digital, a customer engagement solution vendor.

Topics: Event reports

Written by Zykinder Aujla-Singh

Zykinder is the Content and Conference Producer at Nimbus Ninety. She explores new and emerging trends in the business and tech world, and creates engaging events for our community of disruptive leaders.

Leave a Comment