personalization challenges

This summer I hosted a group discussion of 20 VPs and Directors of Marketing from e-commerce, finance, travel, B2B, and non-profit backgrounds. All of these marketing leaders were interested in personalization. They understood the value and didn’t need to be convinced that it would move the needle for their businesses. But they all felt overwhelmed. They wanted to pursue personalization but didn’t know where to start.

Here’s what I told them: things have changed, and it’s not as hard as you think. With the right solution, you can get started today and iterate your way to the future.

While their concerns were certainly valid, they could all be addressed. Here are the top personalization challenges I heard from this gathering of marketers and others I’ve met, and my advice for overcoming them.

Marketing Skill Set

How do I find marketers who have the right skill set to implement my personalization strategy?

You need to find someone with three attributes:

  • Can think like your customers
  • Has the creativity and business savvy to come up with relevant personalization campaigns
  • Has the scientific/analytical mindset to run experiments and measure the results

You already have these people on your staff. You can find them on your web team, your email marketing team, your product marketers and, if you have them, your analytics staff. If you use a personalization solution that doesn’t require coding or coordination of large project teams, you will dramatically increase your chances of being able to use the skills and talent of your existing staff.

Once you prove that personalization works for your organization, you may want to hire someone to work on personalization full time. We have some tips for hiring a personalization specialist.

Get Quick Wins

How do I get quick wins so that I can convince the organization to invest further?

While there are many types of complex, cross-channel campaigns you can run, there are also many types of simple campaigns that can show results quickly. For rule-based personalization, you can start with progressive calls-to-action or by targeting visitors based on their relevant attributes or behaviors. For example, Gardener’s Supply Company began using Evergage by presenting visitors with relevant messages based on their referring source — and saw a 3x increase in conversions in traffic from that source.

Algorithmic recommendations sound more complex, but are often even easier to roll out. For example, you can feature a row of trending products or content that is prioritized by individual category or keyword interest.


We don’t currently have any process for personalization in place, and I don’t want it to get out of control. How do I put a governance model around personalization on my site?

While your process will differ depending on your company’s needs, I recommend setting up role-based access control. For example, create one set of users who can create campaigns, but not publish them. Create another set of users who can test campaigns. Then create a final set of leaders who can deploy campaigns into a published state.

This structure will ensure that your campaigns are only deployed when the right members of your team review and sign off on them.

Developing Content

If I want to target different personas with relevant content, don’t I need to create a lot more content? Aren’t I multiplying the content I need to create by the number of personas that I have?

First, you have a lot of content that is probably written for different personas already. For example, on the Evergage website we offer eBooks for Travel, Finance, E-commerce, B2B E-commerce, B2B Tech, etc. Each of these pieces of content is targeted to a specific industry, as each industry has its own unique challenges and needs.

Personalization can be used to bring all of this content to the forefront to each visitor on your site. Rather than rely on the visitor navigating to your resources page and selecting the right eBook, you can recommend it on any page of your site and when it’s most appropriate for each visitor. Essentially, personalization can surface your existing content, products, and promotions to the right people.

Once you have proven the successes from personalization, you can invest in some additional content if you find that you need it.

1:1 Personalization

We want to get to 1:1 personalization, but can you truly get to 1:1 as a medium-sized organization?

Given the complexity of personalization rollouts historically, there is a well-founded belief that true 1:1 personalization is something only companies like Google or Netflix can do. That is no longer true!

Next-generation, marketer-driven solutions like Evergage have brought 1:1 personalization into the purview of medium-sized businesses and individual marketers. The size of your company no longer dictates what you can accomplish with personalization.


How do you measure the impact of personalization? I’m worried about a black box driving my experience and affecting my brand.

Measurement and attribution should be a standard feature of your personalization solution. Some platforms will not let you test or tune your algorithms, or will report a single number: “we made you $X million” even when it’s obvious your bottom line did not increase by $X million. But how are you supposed to understand the effectiveness of each individual campaign if you can’t measure how it impacted your key KPIs?

With next-generation platforms like Evergage, you can test and tune algorithms before you deploy them and conduct detailed attribution reporting based on views, clickthroughs, revenue/user, AOV, sign-ups, and any other goal of your choosing. For more on how we view attribution, check out The Truth Behind Attribution Reporting.

Final Thoughts

Personalization doesn’t have to be hard, and it definitely should not be overwhelming. Download The Power of 1 whitepaper to explore how Evergage can help you deliver true 1:1 customer engagement and avoid the pitfalls of out-dated solutions.

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