When it comes to email, how can organizations effectively personalize at scale? Justin DeBrabant, Matthew Tharp, Mike Weaver, and Samir Shama, all set out to answer this exact question at OptIn’19, our inaugural vendor-agnostic conference at the beautiful Carmel Valley Ranch. During the panel “Personalization at Scale”, these email experts discussed the challenging if not oxymoronic nature of creating a personalized experience for hundreds of thousands of customers. Moderated by Cory Johnson, the panel covered everything from Natural Language Processing to fried chicken!

Head of Product at ActionIQ, Justin DeBrabant, began the chat by discussing how companies make decisions surrounding personalization. He posited that many marketing efforts surrounding personalization come from a marketer’s intuition about their customer, not data. Matthew Tharp Chief Product Officer at Gamalon on the other hand introduced himself by talking about why marketers should use AI and Natural Language Processing for more accurate personalization. Continuing with DeBrabant’s thoughts regarding guessing, Tharp said “If you’re guessing you’re mostly wrong.” He said that due to growing privacy limitations unless someone is part of a tech monolith like Facebook or Amazon, they have very little data that they can use to personalize emails and other marketing experiences, which is why AI is so important.

SVP, Performance and Innovation at Brightwave, Mike Weaver, interjected by saying that while people can be wary of providing companies, customers tend to want a rich and highly personalized customer experience—two trains of thought which are clearly at odds with one another. He says that customers will say “take my data” in exchange for a personalized customer experience that provides value. Weaver related this to his own work providing Chick-fil-A customers personalized email experiences with modular content. His firm is able to run hundreds of different combinations of content in a single email campaign. Aside from the fact that, “People love those chicken biscuits,” Weaver discussed how Brightwave’s personalization technology can help get a customer who typically stops in for dinner on Thursday nights to come back the next morning for breakfast.

Samir Shama, Engineering Lead at CareerBuilder,  discussed “the line of creepy” which can be avoided by understanding which data your customers have given to you versus which data you got from a third-party provider. Shama said that if Careerbuilder used third-party information to suggest jobs in metros that customers were interested in traveling to…that would be creepy. Tharp, however, brought up a point that what’s even creepier than using data to make correct suggestions to customers, is when companies get those suggestions wrong.

What’s worse guessing using no data, or using too much data to and ending up in creepy territory? Find out the answer to this and much more today in an instant replay of this conversation on personalizing the customer experience.

~ Erica