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Real-time personalization: the what, why, and how

When you get a marketing message that uses your name in the greeting, you know the brand has taken time to personalize their messaging. But there’s a big difference between Hi {FirstName} and an experience genuinely tailored to you. 

That’s where real-time personalization comes in.

Powered by data, real-time personalization enhances every customer experience with your brand. It’s an effective technique for increasing engagement and driving long-term customer loyalty.

Here’s what we’ll be covering today:

What is real-time personalization?

Real-time personalization is the practice of tapping into customer data to instantly deliver ultra relevant, targeted messaging to your customers. And it’s not just a nice-to-have these days. It’s a demand coming straight from customers. In fact, 80% of people say they’re more likely to buy from companies that provide personalized experiences (source). 

What are some examples of real-time personalization?

Three examples of real-time personalization include:

  • Triggering an immediate welcome email when someone signs up for your service.
  • Sending an in-app message when a customer uses a new feature.
  • Texting an offer if someone leaves an item sitting in their cart for an hour.

With real-time personalization, every message lands precisely when a customer demonstrates they’re ready to engage with your brand. 

3 major benefits of real-time personalization

Customers say they want experiences tailored to their preferences, and that’s reflected in the performance of personalized marketing tactics:

  • Personalized promotional emails result in a 29% higher open rate and 41% higher click rate (source). 
  • Personalized triggered emails garner a 25% higher open rate and 51% higher click rate (source). 
  • 63% of marketers say personalization increases conversion rates (source).
  • 89% of marketers report that personalized campaigns result in positive ROI, with 14% citing a return of more than $15 per dollar spent (source).
  • Companies report 40% more revenue from personalized marketing tactics (source). 

With real-time data powering your personalized messaging, you can deliver the relevant experiences your customers crave. That can make a big difference for your customers (and your business’ bottom line). 

Benefit #1: Powerful customer journey orchestration 

Customer journey orchestration is the act of coordinating a unified omnichannel experience for your customers across every touchpoint. And we mean unified

To truly wow your customers wherever they are in their journey, you must deliver targeted messaging throughout every interaction. That hinges on real-time personalization. 

  • Right time: Whether you’re saying congrats when they complete a milestone or reminding them about a product they left in their cart, real-time personalization catches customers when your brand is already top-of-mind.
  • Right content: Real-time data drives relevance. Say you have a budgeting app and want to update customers on the progress they’ve made toward their savings goals. You can use Liquid to include that dynamic content in messages, and real-time data ensures the numbers actually match what’s in their account.  
  • Right channel: Email, SMS, push, in-app, and more—you have so many channels for connecting with your customers. But which one is right for the moment, the content, and the customer? Real-time data can help you decide; then, you can better personalize the experience.

Benefit #2: Targeted segmentation

Real-time personalization: segmentation in

Segmentation is only as powerful as your data. And your personalized marketing is only as powerful as your segmentation. If you’re looking to craft effective lifecycle marketing campaigns, then real-time personalization is a must.

Let’s take a typical customer lifecycle for a B2B SaaS product as an example. 

You might build segments for customers in five lifecycle stages: awareness, conversion, retention, re-activation, and advocacy. Real-time data lets you immediately shift customers into the appropriate segment as they move through those stages to receive campaigns relevant to their current needs.

Benefit #3: Improved customer engagement 

You’ll get better engagement across the board when you’re sending personalized messages that people actually want to receive. In marketing, this can positively impact key metrics, such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. For customers, it creates a positive impression of your brand. That’s a win-win across the board!

Additionally, using real-time data to personalize your messages ensures you’re not sending outdated content to your customers (yikes!). For example, if a customer unsubscribed 15 minutes ago from your email list, but you’ve been relying on manual uploads, you risk a spam complaint—and your sender reputation. 

Pro tip: Paying attention to the content a customer does not want to receive is also important. With real-time data, you can dial back on certain types of messaging as a customer hits criteria for inactivity with engagement filters. Then, you can exclude contacts from specific campaigns while you plan strategic ways to re-engage them with more personalized content. 

Build or buy: Choose your own CDP adventure for real-time personalization

CDP + MAP = The dream team of real-time personalization

Effective real-time personalization requires two primary tools: a customer data platform (CDP) and a marketing automation platform (MAP). Your CDP will facilitate a unified view of your customers based on all the data you have on them. You can then activate this information in your marketing automation platform (MAP). From there, you can create campaigns that drive customer engagement with real-time personalization.

While you can certainly use two separate tools, there are several benefits to a solution that combines both tools into one seamless platform: 

  • Easier integration: Fewer tools means fewer potential headaches. With a consolidated solution for your CDP and messaging platform, you can rest assured your data is flowing seamlessly between locations. 
  • More efficient operations: When data and marketing teams collaborate within a single platform, enacting your real-time personalization strategy is faster and easier. 
  • Simplified support: Whether you’re troubleshooting data issues or need help using the platform, it’s handy to have a single source for support—one that has insight into both sides of the data and messaging equation.
  • Added control: Both customer journey orchestration and customer lifecycle marketing call for a complex constellation of customer data. A combined platform gives marketers more control over the data they need to enact real-time personalization. It also gives data teams confidence that data governance and accountability requirements are being preserved.
  • Reduced resources: Your engineering team will have a lighter lift to implement a consolidated platform than setting up two separate tools. And using a single vendor is typically less expensive (case in point: Journeys includes free use of the Data Pipelines Starter plan).

Case study: Mysa’s real-time personalization success

Mysa, a purveyor of smart thermostats, knew their customers had multiple friction points in their lifecycle. So, they designed a customer lifecycle marketing strategy to smooth the way at every step. 

Central to their approach was leveraging’s customer engagement platform—Journeys and Data Pipelines—to enable real-time personalization at a granular level. 

Their targeted approach resulted in a 592% revenue increase from email marketing alone! Learn exactly how they achieved it in this case study

“ is our main source of truth for anything related to marketing or eCommerce details. We take actions taken by leads and customers on our website, app, and Shopify, and funnel it into instead of manually updating anything.” 

—Performance Marketing Manager, Mysa

Real-time personalization: Mysa logo

Implement real-time personalization at scale

It’s human nature: people want to feel seen and heard. Leveraging real-time data is like active listening, reflecting back to customers what they’ve told you through their actions. 

That leads to the experiences customers crave—and why real-time personalization is vital to building valuable, long-term relationships. 

When you use a consolidated platform for both your CDP and messaging automation, it’s easier and more affordable to put your real-time personalization strategy into practice. Journeys and Data Pipelines work together to put the power of real-time data in your hands. Try them both with a free 14-day trial.