The Best Highlights from Personalization Pioneers Los Angeles 2023
3 insights to help your personalization program achieve efficiency while delivering empathetic experiences.
On May 18, 2023, global tastemakers and customer experience leaders convened at the City Market Social House in Los Angeles to learn and share the latest in innovative testing and personalization strategies at the first Personalization Pioneers event of the year.
A key theme that arose was using personalization to not only optimize conversions and increase sales, but also create a category-leading edge that translates to brand loyalty for years to come. At the heart of this is deep customer empathy: knowing how to best tailor the customer experience to the individual, not the average, to really understand and deliver on their needs. As we continue to venture into uncertain macroeconomic territory as well as face exponentially growing consumer expectations, these brand differentiating experiences are a stalwart investment.
If you were unable to attend Personalization Pioneers LA, fear not: We’ve collected some of the most invaluable lessons and insights from the day’s content programming. If you want to reinvigorate your personalization strategy, use them to become a more customer-centric practitioner – or be part of this transformative experience yourself as we bring the edge to personalization all around the world. Check out the rest of the tour here.
1. Brands must not only personalize, but emotionally connect to succeed in the new experience economy.
AI is set to revolutionize marketing, ushering in what Dynamic Yield’s CEO Ori Bauer called “the era of Invisible Marketing.” In his keynote speech, Ori detailed how this transformative approach will integrate seamlessly into customers’ daily lives, tailoring experiences to their needs and interests without ever feeling like a sales pitch. The key for brands to succeed in this era lies in striking the perfect balance between personalization and privacy while emotionally connecting with customers (also known as responsible personalization.) Brands will often have to do all of this in the most efficient, accurate and profitable manner, as customers become more expensive to acquire and remain loyal.
Gen-Z is at the forefront of pushing digital boundaries, and it is crucial to highlight their individuality in their experiences. In today’s experience economy, customers have higher expectations than ever before, making the staging of memorable experiences the next competitive battleground. Customers crave valuable, useful, and enjoyable experiences, and empathy remains a skill that AI cannot replicate. Building experiences that account for empathy and leveraging personalization will foster loyalty among customers, driving long-term success.
2. A/B testing and personalization programs need to join forces
In her keynote “The Power of Bridging the Gap Between A/B Testing and Personalization,” Lauren Scutt, Digital Personalization Manager at JD | Finish Line, shared her journey of transforming the company’s personalization program in less than a year. Her story started at Personalization Pioneers 2022, where she began to critically examine the team structure and identify inefficiencies in the division between JD | Finish Line’s A/B Testing and Personalization teams.
She realized that while traditional A/B testing aims to improve the overall experience for the ‘average user,’ in reality, this doesn’t actually exist. If you only consider the average user: at worst, you’re alienating customers (each with their own identities and needs) and at best, you’re missing out on conversion opportunities and burning resources. Plus, both teams operated with the same goals: to improve the customer experience and elevate the same KPIs. They even experienced the same duplication in their backlogs. With this in mind, Lauren saw an opportunity for the teams to integrate and share the same processes.
She conducted an impact analysis and gained support from key stakeholders to restructure the program. Through this transformation, her team gained increased visibility and leadership recognized the importance of personalization, both including it in the company’s roadmap and allocating additional resources to the team.
This topic resonated with fellow Pioneers, many of whom, during the roundtable portion of the day, commented that while A/B testing is fundamental to a strong personalization program, the results can’t live in a vacuum – they must be compounded to help the program continually evolve. However, personalization team build often impedes this function. Many mentioned that they needed a dedicated personalization manager to coordinate and share learnings cross-functionally, plus correctly identify opportunities and push priorities to high-level managers and executives.
According to Lauren, teams with a dearth of extra hands should take the time to step away from business as usual: “Ask yourself,” she said. “Am I doing ‘this’ because it is working, or am I doing ‘this’ because it is the way that it has always been done?”
3. Ease friction across the buyer’s journey with personalization
Just like a work of art, every art-buying journey is unique, requiring brands to address emotional and practical needs throughout a lengthy customer journey. In their keynote “The Art of Art-Buying” Tappan’s Emily Wing, Director of Product, and Sarah Kim, Senior eCommerce Manager & UX Strategist, shared how they leveraged personalization to create a unique luxury experience for their customers.
The team focused on addressing three ubiquitous friction points:
- While customers may come in with a few practical concerns such as price or size or general colors – the sale is made by emotional connection.
- Similar to buying a car, large piece of furniture, or fine watch, art’s high price point means collectors need to understand the value and quality of the piece before they purchase.
- Most people – especially first-time buyers – won’t buy on the first visit. They need time to make their decision.
To find the emotional appeal, the Tappan team focused on building trust with personalized storytelling. With art, it’s not about finding the single right product, but about finding your overall taste. So they built a quiz to help visitors discover their range, ushering them into one of many personas curated by art experts, and populating recommendations based on that result.
Additionally, to help educate customers, they focused on adding context on impactful areas, like the homepage and product detail pages (PDPs), dynamically personalizing each to showcase diverse media, prices, and styles. Plus, to stay top of mind until the time is right, they used a targeted reengagement strategy aimed to inform about the quality and range of Tappan’s curation. For example, email campaigns included product recommendations alongside editorial content like artist stories, collections and profiles to build curiosity.
The edge of personalization
Personalization Pioneers LA 2023 showcased the transformative power of personalization in creating brand loyalty and delivering exceptional customer experiences. Deep customer empathy and understanding individual touchpoints are essential to stand out in the competitive landscape. As AI continues to revolutionize in the era of Invisible Marketing, brands must strike a delicate balance between personalization and privacy while emotionally connecting with customers.
Further, the influence of Gen-Z and their demand for unique experiences cannot be ignored. By leveraging technology and the human touch, brands can create luxury experiences that cater to the emotional and practical needs of customers. The key is to ask questions, challenge existing practices, and continuously optimize personalization strategies to build long-term success in this new experience economy.
And remember: LA is just the first stop on our Personalization Pioneer tour 2023. 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 personalization, we’d love to have you.
Here’s where we’re heading next: