If you’ve been on the internet at all recently, or even just walked outside in the last week or two, you’ve probably heard of Pokémon Go — the new augmented reality app that’s taken the world by storm. It’s all anyone can talk about in the Evergage office, so in the spirit of jumping on the bandwagon, let’s talk about how you can approach your personalization efforts like you approach Pokémon Go, by growing through experience.

You spend some time setting up

Were you an early Pokémon Go adopter? Or did you debate downloading it until you couldn’t talk to your friends, family or coworkers without someone bringing it up? Either way, when you first download the app, you started by setting up your account. You customized your avatar to be unique to you, you picked your first Pokémon from Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle (or Pikachu if you’ve done your homework first). You may not know anything about the game yet, but you’re preparing yourself to play.

For personalization, you need to spend some time setting up too. You need to verify it is the right approach for you and evaluate solutions to help you reach your personalization goals. Then you need to spend some time setting up the solution you choose. For Evergage, this means installing the Evergage beacon on your site to begin capturing all of your visitors’ on-site behaviors, downloading the Visual Editor Chrome extension, creating your user accounts, and setting up any integrations with third-party systems.

You start as a beginner

When you first enter the Pokémon World, you start at the bottom — level 1. You’ve taken no actions, you have no points, and you don’t really know what you’re doing. But you have to start somewhere, so you probably start small by seeing which Pokémon are in the area, learning how to catch them and capitalizing on these small wins.

pokémon go

When you first use your personalization solution, you’re a personalization beginner too. Many of our clients use this time to start small, testing a campaign or two to see some quick wins before investing more time. For example, Gardener’s Supply Company began using Evergage by presenting visitors with relevant messages by referring source.

Callouts or pop-ups fueled by simple rules are quick and easy campaigns to run to begin generating some quick wins.

You level up as you gain experience

As you gain experience in Pokémon Go, you gain more points and are able to level up (both yourself and your Pokémon). You start paying attention to the base stats and rarity of the Pokémon you catch, and choosing which to build up into better fighters. You strategically hunt for the Pokémon you’re still missing by conferring with other players you meet or researching online. You find other players on your team (Valor, Instinct, or Mystic) and band together to take over a gym.

pokémon go

As you gain experience with personalization, you will probably get more advanced about the type of campaigns you run too. You might explore inline messages that create more seamless personalized experiences. You can experiment with recommendations — testing and tweaking different algorithms and playing with the placement and format of the recommendations themselves. You may start exploring your multi-channel personalization strategy, linking together your desktop, mobile and email experiences. With your experience comes the knowledge of what’s possible and what you can test.

Gardener’s Supply, for example, still uses personalized welcome messages, but it now also uses personalization to deliver dynamic product recommendations that incorporate multiple variables such as product popularity and individual interests and behavior.

Additionally, you can engage with people who will help you further develop your personalization strategy (your customer success manager), and you can meet with your peers to learn how they’re using personalization to achieve success.

You continue learning as you go

Does Pokémon Go end? Is there anything left to do once you catch all the Pokémon? We don’t really know, but right now all Pokémon Go players are always learning more about the game, trying to gain more experience in their quest to catch them all, and connecting with other players in real life.

The same is true for personalization. Your personalization journey never ends, as there is always more to learn, more to test, and more ways to connect with your customers. A marketer that has reached personalization maturity thinks about it at all stages of the customer journey, always striving to make every customer interaction as relevant and individualized as possible.

Wrap up

While it’s been fun to relate personalization to Pokémon Go, it’s important to note that as opposed to the game, one of the great things about personalization is that it doesn’t necessarily need to follow these discrete stages. In Pokémon Go, you start at level 1 and you need to gain experience before you progress to more advanced levels. But with personalization, you don’t need to start at the bottom. Not interested in starting with small, segment-based campaigns or pop-up messages, and want to dive into advanced machine-learning-based one-to-one recommendations instead? There’s nothing stopping you!

And while the jury is still out on whether or not Pokémon Go is a fad, personalization is here to stay. Eighty-five percent of marketers Evergage and Researchscape surveyed are using some form of personalization in their marketing campaigns. So the next time you take a break from building out your Pokédex and running into people and objects with reckless abandon, give some thought to your next personalization campaign!