Next-Level Personalization Using The Holistic Approach
The following is a practical framework for a creating a holistic approach to personalization that marketers can start implementing today.
Maybe you are at the beginning of your personalization program, or you’ve been at it for a while now but are struggling to achieve the kind of results you were expecting. You could just want to maintain the positive results you’ve already obtained.
The problem is, as your personalization strategy gets more advanced and you begin using a variety of tactics across a variety of channels and devices, the more complex implementation gets.
That is why you need to take a step back, leveling up your personalization game with a holistic vision and tech stack to help better scale and maximize the returns on your efforts.
What follows is a practical framework that you can start implementing today.
Take an inventory of your customer touchpoints
You know the old rule that you need seven interactions with a prospect to close a sale. With even more touchpoints in the customer journey, you’ll need to first get a handle on the inventory of all possible interactions a customer could make with your brand.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of potential points of interaction you may have with your customers and potential customers and questions you’ll want to ask yourself to ensure personalization cohesiveness.
The reason Google and Facebook are the most successful ad-based companies is largely based on their ability to personalize ads at scale. Each AdWords impression is matched with a specific query to a user’s interest. Each promoted post on Facebook can be matched to a specific interest a user has expressed through their interaction with various pages, posts, and beyond.
- Are you currently leveraging the power of personalization in your ads?
- Is this personalization connected to the other parts of your personalization stack?
When a potential customer finally hits your site, for example, after clicking on one of your ads, it’s important to match their expectation with content that will fulfill their initial desire to click through. To improve your conversion rates on your landing pages, you need to keep scent between your ads and your landing pages.
- Are you currently matching user expectations from channel to channel?
- Are you able to do this easily today with your technology setup?
Category and product pages
For a typical eCommerce website, the next interaction would be a user browsing the category and product pages. This experience should be personalized based on who the user is, their shopping habits, affinities, and preferences. For example, if a shopper has repeatedly chosen a certain size, you might want to save that kind of information for when they visit in the future. Or, by making relevant product recommendations based on buying history.
That means the personalization tools you are employing need to be able to “remember” that kind of information and communicate it freely amongst one another.
- Is your recommendation tool different from your landing page personalization tool?
- If so, are these tools able to share information?
If you’ve done a good job personalizing the user’s experience thus far, you’ll inevitably have led them to a checkout page — the most crucial of them all and where they’ll end up converting/purchasing. Though, if you do end up losing them to things like the mobile conversion gap, there are ways to recapture cart abandoners.
- Do you have a system implemented for cart abandonment and recovery?
- How does it integrate with the rest of your personalization stack?
Thank you page
Often neglected, and wrongly so, the thank you page is a great opportunity to show your appreciation for a customer doing business with you. This could mean offering them a discount off of their next purchase or even soliciting their feedback in the form of a review or testimonial.
- Is your personalization solution able to recognize repeat customers?
- How are you creating loyalty through personalization?
Email is still one of the most effective communication channels for outreach with potential customers. Though, far too often brands fail to do so in a way that is relevant and personalized for the recipient. With the emergence of new technologies that make it possible to personalize emails based on robust data sets from a variety of sources, there’s no excuse for generic or a one-size-fits-all approach. Your mailing list should be segmented and visitors provided tailored incentives based on actions they have already taken, or not taken. For example, by sending triggered emails to users who browse a certain category page but didn’t end up making a purchase with various product recommendations to get them back to your site.
- Are you segmenting your mailing list based on first-time vs. repeat buyers?
- Does your personalization technology has a seamless integration with your ESP?
Mobile apps provide a completely alternate view into the consumer and is an amazing opportunity to personalize the user experience. But, because mobile data is captured in a completely different way than web-based data (i.e. SDKS vs. cookies), the right technology must be employed to collect and share data from both mobile and web in order to personalize across devices in a way that takes into account the full picture of a user’s history.
- Does your personalization technology effectively interpret and share mobile data?
- Are you able to provide context in your push notifications to users?
Evaluate your personalization stack
With some of the questions raised above, now it’s time to look at all the tools you currently employ for personalization, as well as those at your disposal. Most importantly, we’ll dive into how integrated your stack is and identify opportunities for new integrations.
As mentioned, there is a lot of sophistication going on in the advertising and programmatic advertising world. Both Google and Facebook advertising platforms allow you to target and retarget super segmented audiences. But you can step your game up even further…
- Are you activating this data in real-time?
- Have you considered connecting your DMP, such as Bluekai or Krux, into your stack?
On-site personalization tools
One should never think of their website as static experience for users. With personalization technology, you can optimize the layout of the page as well as modify the content that appears based on user segments, and you should! But keep a few other things in mind…
- Do you have the ability to create and test several versions of your pages easily?
- Can you deploy recommendation widgets, banners, exit-intent popups, overlays, real-time messaging, etc?
Personalization, Recommendations, Behavioral Messaging, Testing & Optimization in a Single Platform
Email personalization tools
You’ll find basic personalization capabilities with all of the traditional ESPs (such as MailChimp), but if you’re looking to get ambitious with your personalization efforts, may want to look into more powerful tools. Solutions like SendGrid will allow you to do things like send cart recovery emails and can easily be integrated into your personalization stack. They may even come as an integration within a unified personalization platform such as Dynamic Yield.
- Can you design email sequences depending on visitor behavior and history?
- Does your current ESP allow you to send triggered emails?
Mobile apps personalization tools
Most tools today focus on blind, non-personalized push notification blasts. Mobile app personalization should use cross-channel behavior insights to target users based on usage, device type, engagement, location, and more. Additionally, the value of real-time in the world of mobile is crucial, so sending in-app messages when the user is most likely to interact is a top priority.
- Are you providing the 1:1 experience mobile app users expect?
- Can you currently personalize/optimize all of the elements within your mobile app?
Your analytics suite is a core asset in your personalization toolbelt. For example, Google Analytics (Premium) allows you to create custom audiences from any reporting segment to be used in your DoubleClick campaigns.
- How are you analyzing the results of your personalization efforts?
- Is your analytics integrated with your personalization solution for maximum reporting?
Many companies have years of data in their CRM systems — typically way more than their web analytics solution. Though, often data gets stuck in legacy systems making it difficult to tap into for the bettering of your personalization efforts. They key is to unlocking this data and leveraging it in your campaigns.
- Are you currently extracting or leveraging knowledge from your CRM?
- Is your personalization tool able to talk to your CRM system?
Consolidate data and tools
Let’s get started with a framework for setting up your holistic personalization program:
- Choosing the right goals and KPIs
- Conducting research
- Prioritizing research findings and action items
- Implementing with the right tools
Choosing the right goals and KPIs
As your business and customers evolve on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to regularly assess the relevancy isyour goals and KPIs, at least on a quarterly basis.
To do this, the Web Analytics Measurement Model developed by Avinash Kaushik is great:
As we talk about personalization, one of the most crucial areas is around segments, so that you can target and tailor your efforts wisely. Avinash defines several types of segments in his measurement model:
- Acquisition: Where do those users come from?
- Behavior: What do these users actually do on the website?
- Outcome: How did they convert?
Of course, you can and should adapt this model to your specific business context.
One of the biggest mistakes in personalization that I’ve seen made again and again is practitioners taking the “hunch-based” approach. Sincere guesses are not a strategy for effective personalization — they cost time, money, resources, and the insights necessary to make data-backed decisions. Not to mention it can kill a personalization program’s confidence and potentially, budget.
Both quantitative and qualitative research must be done prior to launching in order to uncover the pain points of specific audience segments so you can be there to act.
Quantitative research will require a deep dive into your analytics solutions for data collected from clickmaps or heatmaps, as well as statistics from your advertising platforms and CRM systems.
Qualitative research provides insights that help you really understand why people are taking the actions they are with your brand. There are various techniques available, but if you haven’t yet set up a robust qualitative research practice at your company, here are some good starting points:
- User testing or usability testing: With affordable and simple tools like UserTesting.com, Lookback.io, and Validate.ly, can watch real users interact with your website or mobile applications to identify problems you wouldn’t have spotted in your regular analytics.
- User interviews: Old fashioned interviews are a solid source of in-depth information about the motivations behind different segments and their opinion on your personalization efforts, or even your competition.
- Analyzing customer feedback: A tool like NomNom.it helps you make sense of feedback from customers via email, chat conversations, support tickets, etc.
Prioritizing research findings and action items
After the research phase, you should be equipped with a big list of identified issues. You will then need to create corresponding hypotheses in order to solve those problems. You could use those criteria to prioritize these different questions:
- Size of the concerned segment
- Expected conversion rate lift on this specific segment
- How much revenue would it translate into
- Implementation time for the considered experience
For each personalization campaign on your roadmap, this will help you put an expected amount of incremental revenue against the implementation time and is a great way to optimize your personalization programs as they run.
Implementing your personalization with the right tools
Implementing a proper personalization strategy means minimizing the amount of point solutions and siloed tools currently in your stack. This reduces integration costs (both in time and money), allows you to activate all of your data from one cohesive place, and provides accelerated deployment at higher yielding results.
Unified platforms like Dynamic Yield have been built from the ground up to be an open, allowing you to seamlessly integrate with any enterprise CMS Systems, eCommerce Systems, DMPs, Marketing Automation Platforms, Tag Management Platforms, Web Analytics Solutions and more. Deliver truly personalized customer experiences across all channels, regardless of the device — the barriers to entry have diminished, and your users don’t have to suffer from fragmented, subpar campaigns anymore.
The personalization game has changed. Are you ready to change with it?