Multi-Channel Marketing Personalization with AI

Many personalization tools are designed to work in one channel only. This restricts the creativity of marketers and, most importantly, can cause an inconsistent customer experience across email, SMS, mobile, web, offline and IoT devices.

Emarsys offer AI-based software solutions addressing this problem. I got to discuss their solution with Lindsay Tjepkema, the Global Head of Content for Emarsys.

Although her true love is tech marketing, she has worked in a range of industries, from life science to talent management, economic development to software development, eProcurement to social networks and more. Her experience is built on time spent leading in-house teams, in agency settings, and independently running her own marketing consultancy.

Now, over to the interview!

Lindsay Tjepkema, Global Head of Content for Emarsys

What is Your Company’s Background?

Emarsys is the largest independent marketing platform company in the world. Our software enables truly personalized, one-to-one interactions between marketers and customers across all channels — building loyalty, enriching the customer journey, and increasing revenue.

Our AI-enabled marketing platform offers an intuitive, easy-to-use solution for marketers, enabling companies to scale marketing decisions and actions far beyond human capabilities.

Founded in 2000, Emarsys began as an ESP built to provide an email solution for the European market. From there, it rapidly evolved into the global marketing platform it is today. Since its development, the Emarsys team has focused on innovating and creating the best marketing technology in the world.

From being the first to address deliverability issues in Germany to standing at the forefront of artificial intelligence marketing globally, Emarsys always seeks to deliver innovative and easy-to-use solutions for our clients.

Emarsys makes it possible for more than 2,200 brands in over 70 countries to connect with their 3.2 billion customers around the world. Each day, we deliver more than 350 million personalized interactions across email, mobile, social and web, leading to millions of daily purchase events on our software.

The AI-enabled Emarsys platform continuously learns and improves with each interaction. 

What Problem Does Emarsys Solve?

Our technology truly is the answer to scaling personalization and revolutionizing the role of the modern marketer — our approach to AI marketing allows marketers to leave the data management to the machine so they can focus on what they love: strategy, content, and creative.

What Does Emarsys do, and why is it Important to Your Customers?

Emarsys is a marketing cloud which provides AI based personalization across email, SMS, mobile, web, offline and IoT devices.

The majority of — if not all — marketing clouds are designed to create personalization within the channels. This greatly restricts the creativity of marketers and, most importantly, can cause an inconsistent customer experience.

To overcome this technology limitation, personalization should be calculated and produced based on singular customer events. These events can be “explicit” events like a customer making a purchase, or implicit events like customer churn/attrition.

Hence, an AI-based personalization engine will be required to ascertain the nature of the event, create context to the event, create “raw” content without any channel-specific styling, and identify the next best channel to communicate with the customer.

All these processes will have to happen within a fraction of a millisecond. To accommodate this process across the world (and a company’s database), highly powerful satellite personalization engines will have to be deployed to prevent any delay in the transaction. These satellites will have to work in sync so that customers get seamless, real-time service.

The second challenge is the actual process of creating content. While machines can write some kinds of content such as reports, they will never replace a human’s ability to storytell with emotion, wit, humor, and tact.

As the real-time interactions scale, the need for content increases exponentially. Marketers will have to offload the technology tasks such as identifying segments, crafting journeys, and creating campaigns. They will have to concentrate purely on creating content and training machines on marketing strategies.

While this sounds far-fetched, we can already see glimpses of this vision manifest itself in customer success stories. With GDPR and e-privacy acts coming into play, third-party advertising will become much more restricted, if not completely non-existent in certain countries in Europe.

This will put major pressure on retention marketing or first party marketing — which mean personalization will take center stage.

How Does Emarsys use AI?

The AI-based personalization engine has four major platform-wide services. They include content service, data service, channel service, and orchestration service. AI services are vertically integrated across the platform and the four major services work with the AI services for enhanced capabilities.

Our platform consolidates all web, mobile, email, and purchase information into an “Unified Customer Profile” with a “unique identifier.” This profile includes preferences, behavior trends, predicted behaviors, propensities, and affinities. The unified profile is the platform foundation — the “single source of truth” which really enables hyper-personalization across all channels.

All data that is collected automatically contributes to the profile in real-time using microservices. Additional data provided by the customer is appended through data services.

Through an extendable model, customers can add as many contact fields or relational data tables as they need to create sophisticated data models. Anonymous profiles are also recorded using unique identifiers and matched at the time of identification, both actively and retrospectively.

Unified Customer Profile has core API which is shared across all platform services and also used by external services to maintain consistency. A fundamental need exists for centrally managing content that’s easy to use, smart, and unified.

The content service sits on top of all customer data with 360-degree coverage — CRM, behavior, product, and external data sets all combine to enable and enhance personalization. The content engine is channel-agnostic — making it unique, ensuring that every interaction is personalized with the right content, independent of channel.

Channels contain campaign design and styles; the personalization engine contains rules for personalizing. The channels (during “send-time”) call the personalization engine, requesting content for that contact. The end user is ultimately provided with “open-time” content, personalizing the message during the point a message is opened or interacted with.

The personalization platform is an intuitive UI with best practice templates to allow for quicker time-to-market. The end result is true omnichannel personalization. The Emarsys Marketing Cloud is easy to use, uniform, driven by flexible settings, and woven together by an underlying layer of AI.

Do You Think Marketers Will be Replaced by AI Robots?

The Digital Age is equally the Information Age. The amount and granularity of customer data available to marketers – and the channels through which it can be collected and used by brands – is constantly evolving. With the exchange of customers’ personal data, brands are promising better experiences.

As a result, customers have heightened expectations – to those whom much is given, much is expected. Customers expect personalized messages with content, products, and offers specifically designed for them. And they are willing to ditch a brand that can’t deliver it

ALL of this change makes our jobs as marketers considerably more challenging and demanding. We have to find ways to turn mass amounts of data into unique, personalized outputs. But with so much data about sometimes hundreds of thousands of consumer contacts, and so many tools, where do you begin?

Old methods like “batch-and-blast” no longer works. Targeting customers isn’t as simple as segmenting based on categories or pooled behavior schemas. And, for the first time, humans can’t manually orchestrate and execute the kind of precise individualized communications needed for each customer.

Marketing needs a way to automate personalization at scale. For B2C brands, AI marketing is the best – and, I believe, only – way to automate the delivery of individualized communications for every customer without the marketer having to analyze or segment sets of data.

By using an underlying layer of artificial intelligence and machine learning “embedded” within your marketing platform, you’ll be able to sidestep the data science and algorithms with an easy-to-use dashboard interface.

This type of technology feeds off of the vast amount of customer data you have, and begins to learn about each of your customers as an individual. With time and quality data, AI marketing is the key to scaling personalization.

So, what is the future of AI in marketing? It’s two-fold:

  • AI is the engine that empowers us to automate personalized marketing at scale across our customer databases
  • AI is redefining our roles and allowing us to refocus on our strategy, content, and creative projects where we can impact and shape a seamless customer experience

The infusion of machines into marketing  will help usher in a new era – and unleash a creative renaissance in terms of how we work. The marketing revolution sparked by AI is rising all around us.

Do You Have Any Other Thoughts on AI in Business and Marketing?

As a 15-year marketer — and, more specifically, during the past couple years as the Head of Content here at Emarsys — I’ve noticed a growing trend: the more tech solutions used by marketers, the supposed “better off” they are. For some, hefty tech stacks are a badge of marketing honor… a bragging point.

“We use this product for email, that system for re-targeting, this piece of software for product recs on our website, this chat system for web inquiries…”

Sound like anything you’ve heard… or said?

I’m pushing back. In my experience, it’s not about the best or most tech. It’s about the best solutions. I wrote that in my notebook a while ago, in all caps. And underlined it. Here’s why.

I consume and create a lot (a LOT) of content about marketing. It seems that every podcast, article, interview, infographic, white paper and video I encounter is obsessed with the overly complex, absurdly disjointed tech stack.

They list the various platforms, point solutions, clouds, apps and repositories that are required to carry out their marketing strategies like they are listing the toppings on an ice cream sundae. To make matters worse, they are then commended by the marketing community for constructing such a complex cluster of tools.

As one of our original founders put it, “Tech has become the purpose, not the means. And marketers are buying tech, not solutions.” I agree. And this reality both puzzles and concerns me. Why are marketers being lured to technology instead of solutions? Because the rest of the marketing universe is telling them to.

As a marketer, I refuse to buy into the propaganda that complex technology is the path to my success. And, as a part of Emarsys, I see our incredible opportunity to challenge this perception. It’s about using the minimum amount of tech you need for maximum impact — and the impact you should strive for is to revolutionize the role of your marketing team.

It’s about equipping them with easy-to-use, innovative technology solutions that allow them to drive personalization at scale — so they can focus on strategy, content, and creative. It’s about the solutions, not the technology.

In this blog post, Lindsay Tjepkema presented interesting information on AI-based personalization across different marketing channels.


I am an author, speaker and consultant in marketing automation and artificial intelligence.

Do you need help with marketing automation or AI-based solutions? Contact me and let’s discuss how I can help you!

Magnus Unemyr

Author, speaker and consultant in the aras of marketing automation, artificial intelligence, and the Internet-Of-Things. Contact me if you need help! Learn more.