by Gefen Lamdan // December 3, 2018 // Blog

The power of Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) as a marketing strategy is something you’ve probably heard a lot about. And it can be tempting to hit the ground running with your DCO strategy when you’ve seen the impact it can have on brand awareness and customer conversion. In Celtra’s work with brands, ranging from CPG to technology, we’ve seen firsthand the importance of learning to crawl before you run. This piece walks you through three best practices for launching a DCO strategy that establishes a solid foundation for your brand.

  1. Start where you are with your audiences

It’s well established in marketing that hyper-relevance wins when it comes to reaching consumers. Different needs, desires, and mindsets of audiences establish different relationships to your brand. Aiming to make both the creative experience and the message different depending on who sees it is a critical step in marketing to consumers, and it doesn’t have to be complex. It can be done with the simplest demographic information — like location or language — which you’re likely already following closely. Celtra looked at the impact of creative personalization across retail brand campaigns and saw that there was a 68.9% lift in campaign engagement when the creative was personalized.

Recruiting micro-segments is a key part of establishing this foundation. Customers have specific relationships with your products, and products can be “hired” to do different “jobs” for different people under certain circumstances. (For more on this insight, which originated from Clay Christensen, read this great Harvard Business Review article.) In perhaps one of the most famous examples of hiring an item to do a job, Christensen notes his work with McDonald’s when they discovered that the reason so many people were buying milkshakes at 6:30 a.m. was because they needed to add something to their ride to work to keep them engaged. “From a customer point of view, the milkshake does the job better than any of the competitors,” Christensen said. In this case, the job is keeping people full and occupied (slurping, holding something in their hands) and it kept them full, and the competitors were donuts, bagels, bananas.

Creative and messaging should always be promoting what is relevant to the circumstances. This kind of micro-segment personalization performs well time and again. Looking at the impact of micro-segment personalization in the quick service restaurant vertical, Celtra found a 103.9% lift in engagement when the creative was personalized.

Make sure you identify where your customers are in the acquisition funnel so you can market to them properly. For example, some of your customers are people you have long-term relationships with based on loyalty giving you the ability to cross-sell on products and services. In other cases, they may be customers you’re trying to upsell on an item similar to the one they just bought. In Celtra’s work with a large telecom provider, the brand was able to distinguish between two of its audiences and speak to each one accordingly:

  • Top funnel audiences (prospective customers)
    1. These are prospective clients who the brand can speak to based on their lifestyle or gender. (Have they just moved homes?)
  • Down the funnel audiences
    1. These are current customers who the brand can speak to based on their current plan status. (Are they eligible for a renewal discount? Is there contract about to end? Is it time for an update?)
  1. Contextualize for further personalization

Layer personalization on top of the baseline understanding of your customer by embracing specific contexts to create opportunities for creative conversations. Enable creative to adapt on the fly based on triggers like time, location and weather. Think: an image of a breakfast food in the morning and an image of an evening food at night. Location and weather change the consumer’s needs, and thus, the relationship they’re going to have with your brand. Celtra has found that creative that includes context-based personalization sees an 11% lift in engagement than those with no context-based personalization.

  1. Always experiment, measure and learn

Creative is your lever for experimentation. Get an understanding of what content elements are working better for you and what visual and experience elements are working for you. Think about what you might be missing altogether — what you’re not even thinking about — and then test that. Your CMP should make it easy to introduce new tactics and creative without re-trafficking the campaign or shifting too many assets around.

And of course, one of the most important steps in establishing good DCO hygiene: learning from what you do. This is critical to moving your strategy forward. And by measurement, we don’t just mean what worked and what didn’t — we mean understanding what resonates best with the customer throughout their entire journey and using these micro and macro learnings to inform your marketing strategy going forward. Even the best creative idea has a shelf life, and a tactic that worked today may not work tomorrow. You need to be consistently looking for your brand’s creative fatigue threshold and making adjustments based on what you find. Building a culture of constant experimentation, measurement and learning will set you up with a successful DCO strategy for the long run.

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