Choosing the right experimentation and personalization platform; do or die
When selecting a personalization platform, decision-makers must first assess the challenges facing their business. And to help you out, here's a handy guide to ease the platform selection process.
It’s difficult, isn’t it?
Apparently, of the 7,040 martech platforms to choose from, 211 are categorized as “Optimization, Personalization & Testing.”
We can all quickly end up bogged down in feature comparisons and choice paralysis, regardless of whether it’s a personalization platform, merchandising vendor, or anything else designed to facilitate growth.
At User Conversion, we’ve had first-hand experience with this; either when helping clients select platforms for their business, or using said platforms designed to help grow a client’s business. Being agnostic in our approach, we’ve probably touched the majority of the A/B testing and personalization platforms out there – and even we find it difficult to compare platforms. Goodness, how everyone else feels!
In short, we recommend one simple mantra when selecting any platform:
”Select an experimentation platform based on your challenges as a business first, not on the number or quality of features available.”
Now, let’s get into the good stuff.
1. What is your maturity level?
First, we need to evaluate your experimentation, optimization, and personalization maturity.
How advanced are you within your experimentation process?
Platforms have different scales of maturity based on what fits you best – entry, mid-market, or enterprise, for example. But why have a Porsche sitting in the garage if you’re not equipped to use it, and currently driving a Polo? No offense to Polo drivers, it’s a good car.
Remember that a platform provides you with some added capability only; the value from a platform is your ability to use and squeeze that out.
Dynamic Yield has come up with a few simple questions that you can ask yourself to identify your company’s personalization maturity, but you can loosely categorize your current level around a few key themes: culture and mindset, resources and skills, and finally, the maturity of your entire tech stack.
2. Evaluate your business challenges
What are you trying to accomplish, or what problems are you trying to solve?
Like with any technology, the solution itself should address a series of challenges or problems. In our experience, those who require a solution, depending on who or where they are coming from, tend to lose focus on the end goal i.e. “why are we doing this.” I’m not sure why. Maybe too many people get involved? Maybe the platform has something shiny and the client gets distracted?
Either way, collaboratively evaluate your challenges as a business to ask “What is the purpose of experimentation within your business.” When you do this, you create alignment; when you create alignment, you set expectations.
When trying to understand who should be a part of this process, try to think about those who are interested vs those who are involved and place them in a matrix. Who is directly involved in any platform post-usage e.g. merchandising team, trading team, UX vs who is interested? This last one is slightly arbitrary because it could be anyone, but ultimately, anyone who will add value and understands the business challenges; perhaps your CEO, CFO, or secretary?
3. Prioritizing those challenges
There’s no such thing as a platform that ‘does everything.’ There doesn’t need to be. But if you know what your challenges are as a business you can identify what’s most important to prioritize when it comes to capabilities.
For example, if you have a need to enable marketers and non-technical users to easily test and experiment with different elements of the site, a platform that gives you a WYSIWYG editor, streamlined workflows, a series of experience templates, and out-of-the-box audiences or recommendation strategies would be extremely useful. A lower priority might be multivariate testing, which may require more traffic than your business currently generates.
So just ask, “what do we need” and “in what order” to keep your eyes on the prize.
4. Create an RFP based on those challenges
Now that you have your challenges, give those to your selected vendors, and allow each to
explain how they are going to tackle them. Too often, businesses create RFPs that are feature-driven (we’ve seen enough of them), which simply ask “Do you do this” “How does this work” “Do you do that.”
It’s interesting that as a service provider, whenever we pitch, we demonstrate the contextual value that we can add to the client based on their challenges; why don’t you require the same?
Position your RFP as a series of challenges, and allow the vendor to explain how their technology can address those challenges.
You can use this document to get you started, which can be supplemented by Dynamic Yield’s own RFP Template for personalization and experience optimization.