Thinking about deploying personalization or strengthening your program? You may be looking to improve your digital experiences and take advantage of personalization’s proven benefits, related to increasing loyalty, conversions and more. When you treat your audience members like the individuals they are, these benefits often soon follow.
Now more than ever, technology enables you to deliver relevant messages, offers and experiences to your audiences across touchpoints, and automatically trigger next best actions, all at the 1-to-1 level.
It takes some coordination and planning to establish the foundation for success. Especially for companies just getting started, it’s helpful to ask – and, of course, answer – a variety of questions. We’ll look at the 6 key questions as they relate to your personalization planning efforts.
- are we targeting? Think about who you want to reach with your various personalization efforts. This will impact your campaigns and the type of personalization employed (e.g., rules-based, machine-learning-driven or both). In some cases, your targets will be audience segments, personas or industries. You may also want to distinguish between customers and prospects, and new vs. returning visitors. Many times, companies also look to map recommendations and experiences to each individual – and that person’s unique behaviors, history, preferences, stage in the buyer’s journey, etc. – to drive deeper connections.
- is involved? Who will help? The size of your company and your marketing organization – along with the channels and touchpoints where you’ll be deploying personalization – will impact the size of your team. We’ve also seen many companies, particularly large organizations, establish an internal Personalization Management Office (PMO). PMOs function as the main personalization strategy, solution and technical resource for the company – serving as the main point of coordination across business divisions.
- skills do we need? You likely already have some people on your team who can help implement your personalization strategy – including in roles such as web marketing, email marketing, product marketing, merchandising and analytics. If your personalization solution doesn’t require coding or the involvement of large teams, you can likely leverage the skills and talents of your existing staff. As you dive into more sophisticated strategies, you may want to hire additional resources – such as a director of personalization, to maximize the impact of your efforts. The ideal candidate would have a background in personalization campaigns, as well as experience with other digital marketing campaigns too.
- content and creative do we need? You probably already have a lot of the content assets, geared toward different personas, industries, etc., within your organization. Still, there may be some gaps, and it’s good to identify these early on, and allocate resources toward their development. For example, if you want to create multiple homepage experiences for different audience segments, you’ll need to write new copy and design new images.
- data sources will we use? Data underpins a successful personalization strategy. Behavioral data, attribute data, explicit “zero-party” data and third-party data, related to your customers and prospects, will likely fuel your efforts. (See more information on those data types in this recent article.) Organizations often amass and collect that data across their channels, but it can be siloed across teams and systems. Start thinking early about bringing your cross-channel data together into a central system, so it can be part of each person’s unified customer profile (UCP), used to trigger in-the-moment experiences. Even if you’re only deploying personalization in a limited number of channels (for example, just email and in-person), it’s still helpful to collect and synthesize data from other channels (e.g., web and mobile app behavioral data), to determine the most relevant and timely experiences for each individual.
- campaigns will we start with? Go for some easy (but still important) projects and wins, such as reducing your homepage bounce rate with a dynamic hero area or boosting clickthrough rates by tailoring calls-to-action. Rather than attempting to boil the ocean, it’s often easiest to start in a single channel, demonstrate success, and then expand the scope and sophistication of your efforts.
- resources are available to me? It can be helpful to see how other companies in your industry (and even outside your industry) are using personalization, for some inspiration.
- are we deploying personalization? In other words, what are our goals? Though it’s toward the bottom in this article (because: who, what, where, when, why…), this is actually the most important question to ask – and the first one you should tackle as you begin your efforts. Document your goals with personalization (e.g., improving engagement, increasing email sign-ups, driving more revenue, optimizing conversion rates, etc.), and tie them into larger, corporate goals. Keep these goals front of mind as you evaluate and plan potential campaigns.
- do we know if our campaigns are working? Many platforms natively include A/B testing and multivariate testing capabilities, so you can evaluate your campaigns against a control, measure lift and optimize your efforts.
- can we measure success? Think about the goals you set and how you can measure them. For example, do you have a method for scoring customer engagement? How do you measure lift? Is revenue tracking tied to the success of your website? Mapping out the analytics that are essential to supporting your personalization initiatives will enable you to put the reporting aspects in place starting from Day One.