On September 5, more than 100 leaders in marketing, media, and technology gathered for Dynamic Yield’s “Personalization Pioneers Summit” at Soho House Berlin. Mercifully, in a room of largely eCommerce executives, the day included only a few passing mentions of Amazon.com
Along the way, many of Europe’s top brands took the stage to discuss everything from how to run hundreds of concurrent experiments across your digital properties to the future of experiencing a football match at White Hart Lane.
With some time to reflect, here are five things we learned after spending a day with Europe’s savviest digital professionals.
1. We’re entering a golden age of customer experience
Today’s conversion optimization professionals aren’t just thinking about changing colors on banners and buttons. The conversation has shifted to thinking about the entire shopper, gamer, fan or reader journey and how to optimize every element of it.
As barriers to entry in eCommerce crumble, there are scores of eCommerce startups in every category competing for your affection. Concurrently, there are thousands of marketing technology vendors trying to sell these companies technologies to help them deliver superior digital experiences!
The competitive landscape is fierce, breeding incredible innovations in every corner of retail from supply chain and logistics to in-app augmented reality. With smart people competing across the internet to capture our attention, the end experience for the end user will continue to get better and better.
2. In eCommerce, the only constant is change
Fifteen years ago, the existential threat to many major retailers was a small online bookshop. Ten years ago, the medium that drives 60% of online retail traffic didn’t exist. Five years ago, personalization was a nascent technology experiment being conducted by a few enterprise retailers.
While personalization has emerged as the #1 strategic priority for retailers in 2017, there are a plethora of disruptive technologies flooding the market.
But in a world of VR, beacons, heatmaps, facial recognition technology, voice-activated commerce and drones, how do you know which technologies are for real? Johannes Bruder, CMO of Chal-Tec, put it best during our Digital Experiences 2020 panel.
“When your parents start using a technology, you know it’s time to start paying attention.”
3. Personalization isn’t just a strategy, it’s a mindset
In 2017 business jargon, culture is easily the most abused word. But when it comes to personalization, perhaps nothing is more important to success than crafting a culture of experimentation around digital experiences. Ben Ludigs, CRO of Lamoda delivered the first keynote address to help the audience do exactly that.
While selecting the right technology platform is key to delivering great customer experiences, it means nothing if the people using the technology aren’t sold on the end goals you are trying to achieve. Deploying a software solution is relatively easy but building teams, processes, and philosophies around a tool is a challenge for even the most innovative retail brands.
Though the day had many showstopper moments, the most iPhones went up when Sascha Meissner, head of product at Mister Spex, showed a slide highlighting the roadblocks his team faced six months into their Dynamic Yield deployment. Somewhere along the personalization journey, many of the practitioners and executives in the room had faced many of the same internal hesitations. I won’t spoil the surprise- please check out the embedded presentation below to learn a bit about how Mister Spex assembled a world-class team and process to make the most of Dynamic Yield.
4. The key to creating great customer experiences is creating great content
As the COO of Rocket Internet, Johannes Bruder oversees a portfolio of many of the most innovative digital brands around the world. Speaking in a fireside chat with Dynamic Yield CEO Liad Agmon, he said that one of his core pieces of advice to nearly all of them is to focus more resources on content marketing.
Having the ability to serve several variations of content to different audiences will only drive meaningful uplifts if all variations of content are engaging. For personalization to scale, content production has to scale accordingly.
Proving the ROI of performance marketing (and requesting additional resources to scale) is reasonably straightforward. Content is a far less revealing lover. It’s expensive, takes forever to create, and yields few short-term rewards.
But in an increasingly commoditized retail market where product differentiation is narrowing, mastering the little things like writing great PDP copy or being delightfully cheeky in an overlay help build a brand identity. No matter how sophisticated your technology stack is, delighting users starts with serving them truly great content.
5. Great personalization happens when brands speak like people
On the plane to Berlin, I finally got around to reading Dale Carnegie’s “The Art of Public Speaking.” I can confirm that it most certainly did not advise the reader to make a NSFW joke two minutes into an important speech. Yet two minutes into his address, that is precisely what Dynamic Yield CEO Liad Agmon did, citing wix.com’s impotence in entering the German market.
It was the cornerstone moment of the event. The crowd bellowed with laughter and was locked in as Agmon gave a masterclass in public speaking endurance in an hour-long keynote address. While there were many interesting subsequent conversations around our product roadmap and vision, it was the raw humanism of the presentation that came up again and again over happy hour cocktails. In his candor, an important insight about personalization emerged.
Ultimately, personalization is about connecting with your customers on a real, emotional level. Sometimes this requires taking a risk and speaking to your customer less like a corporate executive and more like a childhood friend.
In closing, we’d like to extend a huge thank you to our keynote speakers and outstanding panelists for their insights, radical transparency and the great sense of humor. It takes a hell of a lot of chutzpah to speak openly and honestly to an audience of peers and competitors and we’re grateful for your willingness to do so.
To our European customers and partners, we’ll see you again next year! To our friends in Asia and North America, we’re coming your way in 2018. If you’d like any information about our upcoming summits, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org