executing a personalization strategy

Getting started with personalization can often be overwhelming for many marketers. Smaller organizations may feel that they lack the resources they need to be effective. Larger organizations may feel that they don’t have the right process in place to operationalize personalization within their companies.

It’s important for companies of all sizes to understand that there is no one single way to get started with personalization. Some companies prefer to jump right in, achieve a few quick wins, and then begin developing a longer-term strategy. Others prefer to put in more work upfront to make personalization a core piece of the customer experience from the beginning. Your approach completely depends on the needs and resources of your organization. There are, however, guidelines and best practices that will help your team be more effective and efficient no matter what approach you choose. Here are four steps to help you plan and implement your personalization campaigns:

executing a personalization strategy

1. Identify Campaigns

Start by thinking through the key goals for your personalization program. List anything your team is struggling with or wants to improve. You may want to facilitate product discovery and increase average order value on your e-commerce site. Or you may want to make your existing content more accessible to fuel your demand generation efforts, or increase upsells on your financial services site.

Then begin thinking about campaigns to address each of these key areas. For example, to grow average order size, you may want to test recommendations on your cart page to pair with the items the shopper has in his cart. You could also suggest additional items the shopper can purchase that will allow him to qualify for free shipping. List out both of these tactics, and indicate the channels and timing of these campaigns along with the metric(s) you’ll need to measure their effectiveness.

Continue to brainstorm tactics with your team to address all of your key goals and challenges.

2. Prioritize Campaigns

Next, you’ll want to establish a mechanism to help you prioritize your campaigns. We recommend something similar to this image below to compare the anticipated impact against the expected level of difficulty to implement.

executing a personalization strategy

If an idea is low difficulty but high impact, it’s a no-brainer. Implement those campaigns immediately. But most likely, you’ll end up with a chart that is slightly more complicated. Regardless, it will give you a good place to begin to focus your efforts on high priorities and help you get the conversation started around prioritizing your initiatives.

3. Set Up

Once you’ve selected a campaign to start you off, you’ll need to set it up. This process will vary depending on your company and the solution you’re using (we have some tips on campaign governance to help you as well).

One thing to note in this regard is that machine-learning algorithms can make setting up campaigns fast and scalable. In the past, personalization was driven almost exclusively through rules. Rules continue to be useful for simple campaigns (for example, if a visitor to your site is from California, then show her a promotion for an event in the area), but they can quickly become unwieldy for more complicated personalized experiences. Algorithms can replace hundreds of rules and allow for more individualized experiences, making setup much easier for the marketer.

4. Test and Iterate

As with all of your marketing tactics, you should regularly test and iterate on your personalization campaigns. After you launch a new campaign, test it against a control to ensure that it provides a lift vs. a non-personalized experience. You should get into the habit of striving for continuous improvement. That means that each month you should add new campaigns, refine a few, and discard a few. You will likely have a few backbone campaigns that you will have running for a long time, but make sure you don’t get complacent with your existing level of personalization. You should strive to provide a better and better digital experience for your visitors and customers.

Final Thoughts

To help marketers plan for personalization, Karl Wirth and Andy Zimmerman, Evergage’s CEO and CMO, respectively, recently presented the webinar Planning for Personalization in 2017 (and Beyond). In the webinar, they describe how to plan and execute a personalization strategy, walking through trends in personalization and providing many examples to get you started. Catch up now by watching the webinar on demand!