Looking Into The Future: The Chief Personalization Officer

Personalization is the endgame of modern digital marketing. In an effort to compete with digital-first brands that set consumers’ expectations, like Amazon, Google and Facebook, companies are committing their resources to a personalized marketing methodology. This is where it will be necessary for brands to have a thought leader dedicated to all things personalization — the chief personalization officer (CPO). 

Currently, a search of LinkedIn for “chief personalization officer” has only a mere 65 people associated with the keyword. However, we’re certain to see this is a role that will emerge as a strategic focus over the coming years. We’re likely to see CPOs drawn from the ranks of chief data officer, chief marketing officer, customer experience officer or digital experience officer. Yet even with the newness of the category, many brands are taking measures to implement personalized marketing tactics, led by high-level executives at the vanguard of establishing the job requirements that will lead to the creation of a CPO within their companies.     



It is important to define the characteristics of a CPO, thus creating the mandate for the position. The CPO succeeds in putting the “person first” in personalization at the core of a brand’s marketing, advertising and customer experience strategies, focusing on the next-best action for every consumer interaction. In a manner similar to the chief customer experience officer or the chief digital officer, the CPO must work as a matrixed cross-functional leader, interfacing with every customer-facing function and back-office function to develop a brand’s personalization strategy and initiatives. 

Citi is one brand that seeks to prioritize the customer, intending for personalization to be a strategic enabler at driving digital adoption throughout the cardmember journey. In fact, Alice Milligan, chief customer and digital experience officer at Citi, uses data to effectively engage with customers and prospects each day.

In a recent interview, she said, “Leveraging data and information in the right way, at the right time, and in the right context helps provide value to our customers in that their experiences with us will be highly relevant, informative and, ideally, foster a deeper connection with the Citi brand,” revealing just how important it is for brands to analyze the data to draw insights and act on the data properly to connect with customers on a deeper level. Citi, for example, does this by educating their customers on the cardmember journey.  

The CPO will serve as the chief storyteller for a brand, articulating strategy and story across all customer touchpoints for a true one-to-one level of engagement. Jackie Talbot, senior director and product owner of customer care at Hilton Worldwide, had an end goal to establish true connected conversation with Hilton’s guests. She believes in “delivering the right message at the right time to the right person, when the person engages with the brand.” In her previous role as senior director of personalization, she led Hilton’s personalized video initiative aimed at driving brand loyalty, a testament to the brand’s customer-first mentality.

A CPO must also oversee the organizational structure and tech stack as they relate to these efforts. For instance, Ken Lain, Verizon vice president of sales and service operations, says he tries to spearhead a customer engagement strategy founded on the premise of trust and transparency. He says a combination of customer data and analytics gives Verizon a complete 360-degree view of the customer — which is a fundamental requirement for a CPO.

It’s clear that forward-thinking leaders are bringing the martech industry into another dimension, where true one-to-one engagement between brands and consumers is a constant. It’s within this unique convergence of digital marketing, advertising and customer care that the chief personalization officer will operate.

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