As VP of marketing, Brian Monahan bumped Walmart.com past Amazon as the second-most highly trafficked in ecommerce (even past eBay). Catch up on the latest VB Live event to discover how he leveraged personalization to gain unprecedented results.
“I’ve witnessed first-hand the power of personalized marketing to really drive a business at scale,” says Brian Monahan, co-founder and chief evangelist of NewCo, and former top marketer at Walmart.com. “We grew sales by a couple of billion dollars powered by personalized marketing. It works.”
And the power of personalization has grown exponentially with the transformation of the sales funnel.
“The fact that people are perpetually connected to the Internet has really changed the path to purchase,” Monahan says. “In the marketing industry, we talk a lot about how that has impacted the purchase cycle, the purchase funnel. People like to say it’s a non-linear purchase funnel now.”
Non-linear means customers are bouncing between price comparisons and celebrity endorsements and social media reviews and all the information that shapes what they’re ultimately going to buy.
But what the industry is waking up to now is the other implication of perpetual connectivity: the shrinking purchase window. It’s not just that you bounce around in a very unpredictable way in terms of how you decide to buy something; the second you decide you’re going to buy is the second you can buy.
If you’re trying to drive sales and trying to reach the qualified prospect, you’ve got a very specific moment in time for a very specific path to purchase for that individual person that you’ve got to get right if you want to influence that opportunity with your marketing messages.
“In the old days, we would have said, ‘Okay, wow, the complexity of that at scale is overwhelming, so let’s just run a bunch of network TV and let God sort ’em out,’” Monahan says. “You could say, ‘Well, I’m never going to be able to cherry pick all these moments in time for all these individual people, so I’m just going to be constantly on the air and foremost on their mind, reminding them about my brand, so whenever they decide, I’m just going to be there.’”
But with cord cutting, the mass-media market has completely crumbled and fragmented. You simply cannot buy that overwhelming mass-media reach anymore, even if you wanted to. The brand builder trying to drive growth through marketing has no choice but to embrace big data and technology to do personalization at scale to try to win these very narrow purchase windows, competing for one opportunity at a time.
“That’s really where personalization comes in,” Monahan says. “Thankfully for business-building marketers, the technology has stepped up so that you now actually have the tools to do that and to win and to compete and to drive sales.”
During Monahan’s tenure at Walmart.com, he took the site from about 55 million uniques a month to 85 million.
“The way we grew the business, in a large part, was by personalization,” he explains. “Both personalization of the customer experience when you came to our website and our app and personalization of the marketing messages you receive across various channels.”
How do you get started? Monahan has some essential advice for newbies: “If you’re just dabbling into personalized marketing,” he says, “the first thing I would say is, hurry up, because it’ll really drive your business.”
The second thing is to think long term about your infrastructure, he says. To leverage personalization most effectively, you need to work toward synchronized, personalized messaging across channels that is real-time and up-to-the-minute in terms of what you know about that customer. That means bringing together CRM and integrating all of your marketing systems — email, texting, push notification, ad servers, and CMS — to ingest data across all your touchpoints and share it across all of your systems.
Finally, Monahan notes, your personalization desperately needs a makeover.
“The personalized marketing that we see — whether it’s a webpage or an email or a retargeted display — is they’re ugly,” he says. They’re terrible to look at and don’t represent your brand well, he says, because the user interface for a lot of personalized marketing tools are designed for engineers and data scientists, and not for creative storytellers who think in terms of narrative arcs.
“We need to figure out how top creative talent can impact what the customer ultimately sees,” Monahan explains. That means hiring creative storytellers who have the capacity to think about personalized storytelling, and giving them the tools to succeed.
When it comes to personalization, Monahan says, “I’m passionate about it. There’s not many companies racking up sales growth with Bs on it, and we did. So I know how powerful it can be.”
“And,” he adds, “it’s just exciting to think about when we get it right, what a better experience it will be to build brand relationships.”
Don’t miss out!
Listen now and you’ll also learn to:
- Understand every customer on an individual basis in real-time
- Build user graphs that account for the persistent and transient behaviors of consumers
- Create rich, aesthetic user experiences that engage
- Deliver timely, consistent messages across multiple channels
- Brian Monahan, former VP Marketing, Walmart.com
- Vijay Chittoor, CEO and Co-founder, Blueshift
Rachael Brownell, VentureBeat
This webinar is sponsored by Blueshift.