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Customized experiences

No more ‘as if’: Personalization takes center stage at this year’s SIGNAL


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    Meg Buchanan
  • Oct 04, 2021
TLDR

Personalization is all the marketing rage. Here’s what our team shared and discovered about customizing the customer experience at SIGNAL 2021.

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The year was 1995. Plaid was in, Windows 95 had officially hit the technology scene, and Cher Horowitz was having as much of a moment as any high schooler anywhere could hope for. Horowitz was many things, but clueless about the potential of the adolescent power suit, she was not. As her retro computer compiled the perfect outfit based on the data from her closet, 90s kids everywhere went green with envy. Ah, the power of personalized technology. 

We’ve come a long way since Cher and her computerized closet, but the allure of technology that caters to consumer preferences and proclivities remains.  

At this year’s SIGNAL, personalization took center stage—and with good reason. Hyper-personalizing the content and experience of your customer is a proven, powerful way to break through the noise and connect with your audience.

Organizations that have customized their platforms on a foundation of data are doing incredible things. We’ve gotten to see this firsthand with our customers, who are using every interaction with their audience to deliver unique experiences across each of their channels. 

And with 71 percent of consumers saying they feel frustrated when their shopping experience is impersonal, omnichannel customization at scale that taps into the power of all your customer data isn’t just nice to have, it’s now paramount to your long-term success.  

We sat down with Product Marketing Managers Sherry Huang and Nupur Bhade Vilas to discuss customer engagement personalization and what they were most excited about from SIGNAL 2021.

Meet the experts, Sherry Huang and Nupur Bhade Vilas

Huang and Vilas are no strangers to the value of technology and personalization: While most of us just dreamed of the computerized closet we’d have someday, Huang and Vilas have spent their careers figuring out how to build their own. 

Huang is a Product Marketing Manager at Twilio Segment for Personas, Segment's identity resolution, and audience management product. Working closely with customers and technology partners across the marketing landscape, she deeply understands—and is passionate about—the role first-party data plays in the future of digital marketing and personalization. 

Vilas is a Senior Group Manager of Product Marketing at Twilio Segment. She is passionate about crafting narratives and bringing new products to market. She has also launched several products at Twilio, including Proxy, Studio, and Autopilot, to name a few. 

Together they bring a unique, expert perspective on the future of data and personalization in customer engagement. 

What most excited you about SIGNAL this year? What made the integration of Segment into the sessions different than years past?

Huang: Ever since Segment joined the Twilio family last fall, I had eagerly awaited SIGNAL and our chance to showcase the future vision of the product to the world. And finally at the event, we got to see what the power of data brings to customer engagement. I’m so excited that we gave our most innovative customers the stage to share how they’ve elevated their customer experiences with data-powered personalization.

Vilas: I’m personally really excited about Twilio Engage. It is going to be a gamechanger for our customers, and it was so amazing to see their response to it. We also had some amazing customer speakers who talked about the impact of personalization on their business—they shared best practices that really helped everyone understand not just the why, but also the how.  

What sessions really spoke to personalization in customer engagement, either by industry or more generally? 

Huang: I’m biased, of course, since I shared the stage with Allergan, a global pharmaceutical company well known for its BOTOX® Cosmetic brand, to talk about how they created amazing success with personalization. For those unaware, Allergan found a growing consumer base doing their own research on its brands prior to even considering visiting a healthcare provider. Seeing this, they then chose to invest in providing education directly to consumers, rather than relying solely on providers to deliver that information. 

When they started building out this direct-to-consumer approach, Allergan realized the data about its more than four million customers were completely siloed across numerous brands, digital products, and providers. They brought in Twilio Segment to build a unified view of its customers, enabling the company to provide actionable, personalized communications directly to consumers and provider partners.

And by setting up a real-time, personalized experience for their loyalty app users, they’ve built trust and engagement—and drove a 43 percent conversion rate for eligible BOTOX® patients booking a JUVEDERM® treatment. And, mind you, this kind of cross-brand integration was something they had never been able to do before.

Vilas: I was really excited to hear Vacasa, a leading rental management platform, speak at SIGNAL this year. They drove three times more bookings for rental properties by personalizing their customer engagement. I was very interested to hear them explain how they’ve used several products across Twilio, Twilio SendGrid, and Twilio Segment to develop their marketing strategy. 

What are some trends specifically around personalization that you think we’ll see across industries in 2022?

Huang: One of the biggest trends I’ve noticed since the start of the pandemic is the focus on customer retention. Especially in the face of slashed budgets and the death of the third-party cookie, it’s a no-brainer—according to Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by five percent increases profits by 25 to 95 percent

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s more valuable to keep your existing customers happy than to seek new customers, so many companies are now doubling down on their retention strategies and recognizing that their sophistication around customer data is what will make them stand out. The companies that know their customers the best are the best equipped to deliver flawless retention programs.

Vilas: As a result of the pandemic, 70 percent of retail and e-commerce companies are seeing an acceleration in digital transformation, per Twilio’s 2021 State of Customer Engagement Report. According to McKinsey, personalization can drive up over 15 percent revenue growth for companies in the financial sector. Fifty percent of U.S. consumers plan to continue using telehealth. What this tells us is that there’s a massive opportunity when it comes to driving crucial engagement experiences across retail, financial services, and healthcare. More specifically, 9 out of 10 consumers want to message with businesses. So regardless of the industry, personalization (or lack thereof) is what can make or break your business.

From clueless to customized

SIGNAL showcased what Twilio and our customers are building and inspired attendees around the world to do the same. And harnessing customer data to develop these unique and personalized experiences is a major factor in creating world-class customer engagement. We hope that at this year’s event, we were able to show you how to do just that. 

Want to learn more about how you can enhance your customer engagement strategy for 2022 and beyond? Get started with the rest of our latest edition about the future of customer engagement. 

Read more about what you may have missed at SIGNAL 2021.

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Meg Buchanan

Meg Buchanan is a Colorado native, a Kansas Jayhawk, and a proud multi-tasking millennial. As Twilio's Content Marketing Manager, she has more than seven years of experience writing for both agencies and in-house brands on topics from healthcare to hospitality.