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Todd ForsytheSenior Vice President of Digital MarketingDell
Delivering custom experiences to buyers across channels in a relevant way is a pillar of Dell’s digital transformation efforts. As senior vice president of digital marketing, Todd Forsythe spoke with eMarketer’s Jillian Ryan about Dell’s three-year mission to create personalization across all customer touchpoints. Doing so is requiring the company to build a new infrastructure with machine learning and big data, while also relying on new skillsets and employee education.
eMarketer: What is Dell’s vision for personalization?
Todd Forsythe: We’re on a three-year journey right now, and there’s a complete infrastructure stack that we’re building out. Ultimately our goal is to deliver one-to-one personalized content across channels and devices through a big data environment with a machine learning predictive engine, which looks at behavioral data, purchase data and web behavioral data—both onsite and offsite. The goal is to predict the next likely action of a buyer and deliver content dynamically to fit that need, in real time.
eMarketer: Such an endeavor must take great coordination across your organization. Can you tell me about the process you put in place to enable such an investment?
Forsythe: There’s a broad impact on how we advertise, how we produce content and the processes that enable all of that. There is a considerable effort on skill set development or education. For content producers, for example, we have to figure out how to take long-form content and then produce modular content that will resonate with our prospects.
It’s a journey for us, as it’s a journey for many companies, but we’ve got a number of end-to-end pilots that are in place, that are running personalization at scale across touchpoints.
eMarketer: How is personalization a part of Dell’s digital transformation journey?
Forsythe: In my role, I’m responsible for our digital marketing transformation and journey, but my greatest focus is on ensuring two things: One is supporting the needs of our internal stakeholders, but secondly, that we’re forward-leaning in leveraging technology and data in predictive analytics in digital marketing.
Far too often, many organizations fall into the trap of getting too enamored with technology as the shiny object. Organizational silos are also a barrier when you think about digital transformation. To focus on the customer and deliver a personalized experience, you have to harness all aspects of marketing collectively in a unified approach.
To really gain traction within Dell as an organization, I partner with stakeholders that are very progressive internally and use those stakeholders as “best in class” examples. Then, once the marketing organization sees that there are a set of groups that are using the technology to the fullest, it essentially pulls in a lot of interest and buy-in.
eMarketer: How do you maximize technology?
Forsythe: The focus is really on understanding the customer profile. You really truly need to comprehend the customer to produce content to build the infrastructure. Everything revolves around that customer.
To do so, we’re evolving our preference management system. To develop trust with the customer, we need to be very transparent and share with the customer: “Here’s what we know about you. Here are the interests that we think are associated with you. If we’re wrong, please tell us, or if you don’t want us to leverage this information, tell us as well.” We’re completely transparent with the customers.
Marketers are also using large data sets to evaluate fractional attribution of their marketing investment so they understand, across the complete buyer’s journey, where investments are increasing the greatest yield. We take advantage of this to dramatically lower the cost and generate a higher revenue number per customer through personalization.
As programmatic advertising matures, buyers and sellers no longer see it merely as a means of automating processes, but rather as an advanced method of controlling ad campaigns—and better targeting the audiences that come with them.
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