The Top Takeaways from Personalisation Pioneers London 2023
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The Top Takeaways from Personalisation Pioneers London 2023

From how to find your edge to defining a personalisation path, future-proofing your technology, and scaling localisation.

On 01 June, 2023, global tastemakers and customer experience leaders convened at the Sky Garden in London to learn and share the latest in innovative testing and personalisation strategies at the second Personalisation Pioneers event of the year.

If you were unable to attend Personalisation Pioneers London, fear not: We’ve collected some of the most valuable lessons and insights from the day’s content programming below (as well as via this key learnings report). And be sure to check out the rest of our tour dates and locations to see if you might be able to join us later this year.

01. You are the edge in your CX

In today’s digital landscape, many personalisation practitioners are on their own unique journeys, striving to improve their chosen customer experience KPIs. However, they often find themselves fixated on engagement, constantly seeking ways to capture attention and retain their audience. As Dynamic Yield by Mastercard CEO Ori Bauer explained in his keynote “How to Find Your Personalisation Edge,” while AI offers the promise of scaling experience delivery and optimisation, it is important to recognise that humans are the essential architects of strategy and designers of customer experiences.

True personalisation is actually deeply rooted in human connection and empathy, a skill that ChatGPT and AI can’t replace. Achieving this requires an earthly understanding of the situations, perceptions, and expectations that shape our everyday lives. Those who are able to bridge both worlds can transcend the limited scope of engagement-focused personalisation and deliver experiences that don’t merely capture attention, but anticipate and respond to actual wants and needs. And the more a personalisation practitioner comes to understand their customers over time, the more profound the level of personalisation. This is what it means to create an empathy driven-experience–one measured not by cost or speed, but loyalty.

Personalisation is all about empathy

02. Define your path and challenge it

In her second year as a Digital Product Manager at Sweaty Betty, Helen Martin launched the UK-based activewear brand’s personalisation programme. In her keynote “From Zero to 100: Scaling Personalisation and Making the Move to a MACH Architecture,” she shared how in roughly a year, she was able to scale the programme to huge successes, generating a 62% uplift in same-session revenue from recommendations-powered quizzes, among uplifts in other key business KPIs through a range of customer engagement strategies (read the full case study).

While it wasn’t a linear journey, it stemmed from Helen’s established vision that personalisation’s goal was helping customers find the right product at the right time. She also knew that for this to truly work, rather than presenting a single path to success, her team needed to build the plan with others.

Helen met with a broad range of collaborators, including folks from digital product, eCommerce, performance marketing, and brand, communicating how personalisation would help them meet their shared goals. She offered them space to ideate ways they could tackle these problems, and worked together on small projects with identified goals and met regularly to communicate the findings. As time went on, they’d ramp up or taper back their approaches, depending on identified business opportunities or competing priorities. This approach ensured a right-sized, scalable roll-out of personalisation across multiple stakeholders.

This gradual, yet dedicated approach was echoed by Julia Paulsen, Director of eCommerce, Nordics, Elkjøp in her keynote “How to Beat the Personalisation Hype and Provide Real Customer Value.” While the leading consumer electronics retailer holds personalisation as a critical pillar in future–proofing the business and has been developing the programme over the past couple of years, early wins led Julia to challenge her assumptions on the company’s current programme. She realised that while the team had gotten great at providing product recommendations along the user journey, they still had a long way to go from what she considers “true personalisation,” where different elements of the digital experience adjust for the individual or audience.

To challenge Ekjøp’s personalisation path, Julia and her team adjusted by going back to the basics: They recommitted to constantly A/B testing. They started with measuring the impact of various site elements on the user journey, and reprioritised their investments to focus on high-impact areas. Then, since online customers were dropping clues with every scroll, click, and bounce, they decided to test different contexts and contents to see which best helped the customer advance towards the right product. By reinvigorating their testing programme, they were able to recast their path and get closer to their goal of true personalisation.

03. Future-proof the technology stack

To keep up with rapidly evolving consumer expectations, brands require agility, speed, and flexibility, not just in their internal processes, but in their technological architecture. In the second part of her keynote, Helen Martin shared Sweaty Betty’s plan to future-proof their tech stack, using a MACH-based approach. For a year, the company made reactive attempts to improve conversion rate optimisation (CRO) through entering client-side code. However, Helen’s team realised that this approach was not feasible or consistent due to the prevalence of single-page applications and the dynamic nature of frameworks like React.

So they decided to spend the time and space to develop a more thorough and thought-out personalisation plan that would move them away from reactive CRO to a more customer-centered methodology. The first step they took was creating a personalisation toolkit that would be integrated into the product from the start. For example, they developed an “always on” component library that focuses on key items that require personalisation through server-side APIs to drive recommendations.

The team also established a defined set of guardrails to determine which elements will undergo a short-lived, test and learn client-side approach. If successful, they can be built into the API. They also integrated their content into a headless commerce system and CMS to reduce duplicate content creation across platforms. Additionally, the toolkit is structured to be cross-functional, reducing the need for additional developer support.

This MACH-fueled approach won’t just create a more centralised and future-proofed solution, but it will also ensure the company’s personalisation efforts are coordinated across various channels and devices and are executed based on a customer’s complete data profile. By shifting to a server-side rendering approach, it also significantly stabilised and sped up the page loading experience speed.

04. Think globally and personalise locally

Understanding the link between broader global trends and what’s happening at the local level is key to optimising your programme. For example, in her keynote speech, “The Macroeconomic Trends Shaping Consumer Behaviour and your CX,” Natalia Lechmanova, Senior Economist at Mastercard, underscored that while companies massively invested in their eCommerce offerings over the past few years, Northern European consumers have swung back to shopping in-store: “it’s like the pandemic and shift to digital never happened.” A personalisation program heavily focused on localisation might cut back investment in digital, focusing solely on improving the in-store experience, whereas a more global strategy might try to lure customers back online. But one that combines the two knows how to utilise valuable data between the two to create more meaningful experiences for all.

For example, brands like Electrolux are addressing the needs of different shoppers around the world through local campaigns. The global home appliance manufacturer operates its D2C channel in 21 European markets, making it the largest home electronics retailer in the region. In her keynote presentation, Marienza Benedetti, eCommerce Personalisation and Growth Manager, discussed how its team combined their localisation and personalisation efforts to manage language, local product assortment and discounts, level of service, content, images, and so much more. All of this with the goal of delivering tailored experiences that are scalable across regions and brands while also speaking to the local customer.

While they can automate much of this with personalisation and do a lot to meet their global goals across all regions, there are still nuances in each region that need to be captured. For this, the human touch of local teams comes into play, providing feedback and ideas to translate into truly personalised use cases at the local level.

For example, they promoted live phone service on certain product detail pages (PDPs) when they realised Italian customers were less likely to buy expensive items online, and highlighted bestsellers and best-performing category pages when they realised that German customers coming from a corporate partner had a higher-than-average purchase intent. In sum, to create personal experiences, you need to demonstrate a clear understanding of the visitor, and to do that, you can’t afford to ignore the local and cultural touch.

The edge of personalisation

Personalisation Pioneers London 2023 showcased how, while businesses face uncertainty and evolving consumer expectations, personalisation investment can help drive sales and create standout experiences that set them apart for long-term success. Recent strides in artificial intelligence do help unlock efficiencies, but they only create an unparalleled competitive edge when coupled with deep customer empathy. No matter which path a company takes, a successful personalisation programme starts with challenging norms and coming to understand your customers’ unique wants, needs and habits. Only then can you build agile, flexible processes, and infrastructure to help support your growth as you scale your programme.

And remember: London was just the second stop on our 2023 Personalisation Pioneer tour. If you want to sit in for a deeper understanding of the latest trends, next-level tactics, high-impact use cases and methodologies, and make meaningful connections with other pioneers who live and breathe personalisation, we’d love to have you.

Here’s where we’re heading next:

Berlin – 26 Oct 2023 (Sign up here)

New York – Sept 2023 (Sign up here)

Singapore – 1 Nov 2023 (Sign up here)

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