How Pandora Mastered The Art Of Personalization—At Scale

How Pandora Mastered The Art Of Personalization—At Scale
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Pandora, a leading music and podcast discovery platform, is on a mission to provide a highly-personalized listening experience to its 70 million users each month.

Indeed, experience and personalization is key to the Pandora business model. The platform relies on a proprietary recommendations engine that helps listeners decide what audio content to listen to next. The challenge, according to Mike Millard, director of growth marketing operations and audience strategy at Pandora, was that this personalization strategy didn’t extend into the marketing that Pandora was doing.

At one point, Mike said, Pandora was hitting all of its users with the same generic messaging. Today, that strategy has matured in that the company is sending targeted emails to users based on where they are in the customer journey. That means listeners get different messages depending on how often they listen and what they are listening to.

Personalization at scale quickly became the priority, and as Mike puts it, personalizing at scale means providing targeted and personalized experiences to listeners across all channels in which people engage with the Pandora brand, and that includes marketing channels such as email, mobile push and more. And for that, the company turned to Adobe Campaign, a cross-channel campaign management solution in Adobe Experience Cloud.

According to Mike, Pandora had also previously been using a number of different channel-specific campaign orchestration technologies, which resulted in data silos. “We started on this journey with a focus of personalization at scale, but Adobe Campaign has also helped us operationally in terms of centralizing a lot of the pieces of our marketing stack,” he said.

Adobe Campaign empowers Pandora marketing managers to be more agile in how they run marketing programs since there is less of a need to get the engineering team involved to get cross-channel plans out the door.

“The biggest benefit of adding Adobe Campaign to the stack was scale and flexibility,” said Stephanie Ausen, director of CRM marketing at Pandora. “The solution is helping us orchestrate more personalized campaigns at a scale we couldn’t reach previously.”

In addition, Adobe Campaign is also helping Pandora get smarter about how it is marketing across channels, because, as Stephanie puts it, “We now have the tools more readily available to scrub users out and to make sure we are reaching out to them on their channel of preference.”

Automation in Adobe Campaign, such as dynamic content, triggered emails, and more, is helping Pandora’s marketing managers free their time from some of the more mundane job tasks to focus on the creative aspects of marketing, Stephanie said. “We no longer have to pull a daily list where we say ‘trigger this for all of the new users that qualify for message X, Y, and Z. We can automate that now, and rest assured that users are getting communications in a more relevant way,” she said.

For example, the company adjusts its marketing messages for customers who have not listened for a predefined time period, encouraging usage through personalized music recommendations and product education. Adobe Campaign allows Pandora to set up cadences and sequencing of messages where communications are automatically sent when a listener reaches a certain point in their journey.

Pandora relies on a team of four Adobe full-service members, who Mike said, are “on the journey” with Pandora, managing workflow, data uploads and more.

“We’ve had a very consistent team of people working with us on the Adobe side through this whole process, who have been instrumental to our success,” Mike said. “They have been equally passionate about driving our success and helping us navigate things that are new to us.”

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