As the vast majority of Australian businesses turn to AI for their marketing campaigns, Twilio’s Liz Adeniji explains why good quality data is critical for effective AI personalisation.

AI adoption in Australia's marketing landscape is skyrocketing, transforming the way businesses approach their campaigns. A key area where AI is making significant impact is in the realm of personalisation. Almost all (95%) of Australian businesses are leveraging AI to create more targeted, personalised marketing efforts. However, the success of these AI-driven campaigns hinges on a critical factor – the quality and usability of data. 

In this article, we explore the symbiotic relationship between good quality data and effective AI personalisation, and why one cannot succeed without the other.

Real-time personalisation demands good data

Real-time personalisation is already an essential for Australian businesses looking to remain competitive. According to Twilio’s State of Customer Engagement Report 2023, real-time personalisation has been found to boost customer lifetime value:

  • 79% of Australian consumers say personalised experiences increase brand loyalty and spend
  • 89% of businesses agree that access to real-time data is essential to their organisation’s growth

However, despite the abundance of data and recognition from marketers that real-time personalisation is key, there are still gaps and inconsistencies in the customer experience that are increasingly frustrating local consumers. According to Twilio Segment’s 2023 Growth Report, almost half (47%) of Australian consumers are frustrated with brand interaction, an increase from last year. 

Part of this may be because whilst consumers want digital experiences that are personalised and consistent, they also want to have some control over the kind of data they share and how it is used. Close to one-third of Australian consumers say they have stopped doing business with a brand after their expectations for trust and privacy weren’t met, and virtually all (95%) also said they want more control over their customer data. 

Another clear issue is the availability of quality data. To achieve real-time personalisation at scale, marketers need clean, consented, consistent and compliant data. Both customer data platforms (CDPs) and AI have a big role to play in achieving this. Without a trusted data infrastructure with clean, consistent, compliant, consented and unified data – such as a CDP – AI-driven personalisation is virtually impossible.

Data-led personalisation and the role of customer data platforms

A CDP helps businesses capture data from every customer interaction, consolidate that data into centralised user profiles and audiences, and connect it to the right tools so it can be leveraged to its full potential. By connecting the dots across the customer lifecycle, brands can create a fully formed picture of each customer and achieve true, real-time personalisation. Globally, companies using a CDP experienced a 32% growth rate in the past year, compared to a 21% growth rate for those companies that do not. In Australia specifically, more than half (55%) of organisations say they currently use a CDP to grow revenue. 

Amaysim, Australia’s leading low-cost mobile service provider serving over 1.2 million customers, is a good example of a local organisation tackling data-led personalisation with a CDP. Amaysim used Twilio Segment CDP to enable marketing teams to deliver personalised, relevant communications, optimising campaign performance and reducing customer churn by A$7.3 million. It was also able to democratise access to consistent, high-quality data for all teams in the business and now automates 90% of its marketing campaigns to drive operational efficiencies. Amaysim also uses Segment Protocols to proactively optimise data governance and centrally manage policies around data security and privacy. 

Addressing growing data privacy concerns and legislation

Another critical aspect of a CDP is that it allows companies to “govern” their data, ensuring they are respecting consumer privacy. The message from local consumers on this is loud and clear – most (65%) expect a company to ask for consent before using data and to inform them how their data would be protected. This is also being felt in the business community, with around one-third of Australian organisations expressing concerns about data privacy associated with AI adoption.

But while AI can appear to raise privacy concerns, the use of a CDP can help mitigate these issues by ensuring that personalisation efforts are based on consented data and comply with privacy regulations. Personalisation, when done right, allows companies to target customers effectively without compromising their privacy. With regulations like Consumer Data Right (CDR) in Australia and the proposal of the recently announced Australian Privacy Reform, this should be top of mind.

A foundational data platform such as a CDP means a brand can react in real-time to a customer that has just opted out of being targeted, for example, removing them immediately from ad retargeting campaigns, email distribution lists and suppressing social media ads. How many companies can truly say that they can do this today? I would argue not many. How many companies face the threat of fines should the Australian Privacy Reform become legislation? Potentially many.

The promise of AI-powered CDP campaigns

The industry concedes that the one thing AI is wholly reliant on is good quality data and plenty of it. While AI will be transformative for many companies, it is not a silver bullet. If customer data is siloed, inconsistent, stale or incomplete, even the most innovative AI applications will fail or have little impact. In order to get the most out of AI campaigns, marketers need to have strong foundational data platforms in place. A trusted data infrastructure with unified, consistent, real-time and consented data, such as a CDP, is critical to any AI strategy. Most business leaders in Australia agree – 86% of local leaders say AI could be more useful with access to higher-quality data. 

AI use in marketing is already taking off in Australia. Almost all local businesses are already using AI in their marketing efforts and around two-thirds (62%) also expect to spend even more on AI-powered campaigns in the coming year. But although implementation rates are high, at this stage, many local businesses are still in the experimentation phase, “dipping their toes in the water” when it comes to AI. The most common way organisations expect to use AI in marketing is via generative AI-driven chatbots (40%), and customer journey mapping and content creation and curation (30%).

I believe the pairing of foundational data platforms and AI will unlock even more new, exciting possibilities for marketers in the years to come. By combining a CDP with predictive AI, for example, companies will soon be able to automate product recommendations, determining which items are most likely to drive purchase. Brands will also be able to avoid marketing fatigue and always reach customers on the best channel and at the most optimal time to drive conversion. Meanwhile, generative AI will mean marketers spend less time building campaigns and more time delivering experiences. A CDP puts all of this rich data directly into the hands of the marketer for immediate action, essentially making them the new data scientists of modern marketing. 

Having spent over 20 years in martech and adtech, this is one of the most exciting times to be in our industry. The level of data-driven marketing and personalisation we will see unfold over the next few years will reach new, dizzying heights and I, for one, cannot wait.