Let’s start with this premise: Consumers are spoiled. There, I said it. Consumers have grown to expect instant, personalized experiences, whether it’s their name scrawled on a coffee cup, the surprisingly relevant stories on their Facebook feed, or their customized homepage on Amazon. Should we blame the digital age for millennials’ supposed aversion to delayed gratification and shoppers’ intolerance of out-of-stock advertised specials? Maybe. But why not instead thank digital innovation for turning traditionally negative social characteristics—like being spoiled—into marketing opportunities.

Because, let’s face it, if a consumer walked into a Kroger grocery store and a friendly clerk greeted them with a coupon for the organic cereal they usually pick up at Whole Foods, that shopper would feel appreciated and pleasantly spoiled. With innovative digital tools like marketing clouds, this type of virtual customer service is not only possible, it’s expected.

So, how can you actually deliver that level of service? How can you engage consumers with the right offer in the right place in real time?

The solution is data, data, and more data — because, like I said above, TMI does not apply in marketing. Now I know that it’s easy to glaze over when someone starts talking about leveraging data for segmentation, targeting, messaging, or measurement. But resist that temptation — you don’t want to miss out on the proverbial aha! moment.

Use Data to Avoid Diversity

While in many ways diversity enriches our lives, when it comes to segmenting audiences, you want homogeneity. And data delivers that by locating and grouping folks with common behaviors, attitudes, and intentions. Here at MaxPoint, we have over 10 years of data that reveals these all-important profiling characteristics, so you can segment with confidence. Without strong data, you’re just guessing.

Use Data to Understand Context

Facts are good and useful, but the critical role that context plays when targeting your audience is often underappreciated. Whether consumers are on a computer, smartphone, or tablet — and whether they’re in-store or at home — you need to be aware of their location, their mindset, and the device they’re currently viewing. That level of contextual insight — regardless of medium — is impossible without great data and powerful technology.

Use Data to Play Matchmaker

If you’ve found your ideal consumer, nailed their location, and can follow them across geographies, platforms, and devices, the next step is delivering an engaging experience. In marketing parlance that means a perfectly executed creative campaign across different channels and audience segments. But for our purpose, think of it as a dating app that only displays perfect matches. Not a dud in the bunch. Challenging? You bet. But with the use of today’s innovative data platforms, it’s possible.

Use Data to Get Judgmental

All the creativity, context, and targeting won’t matter if you can’t see what works by measuring your campaign’s impact. Yup, you guessed it, we’re back to the importance of data. When you close the loop with robust measurement, you can optimize campaigns. And with a strong intelligence partner, you have the data to improve future campaigns, to expand your reach, and to engage new audiences with similar, high-performing characteristics.

Now, You’re Ready to Get Personal

Remember that “aha! moment” I mentioned? When you have deep, data-based insights and robust technology — we’re talking real-time, cross-device innovation — you have the foundation for creating awesome, personalized customer experiences across social, mobile, email, display, video, and more. While that’s a lot of information for one sentence, it’s exactly what your marketing plans need to give your customers the level of personalization they’ve come to expect in our so-called “spoiled” digital age.