Personalization seems to be the buzzword of the year in digital commerce, so it should be no surprise that the Personalization Pioneers Summit hosted by Dynamic Yield on April 11th and 12th in NYC garnered a strong turnout. More than 200 marketers, merchants, and partners traveled from across the US to attend the two-day affair which was co-sponsored by Brooks Bell, Periscope, Corra, and Translations.com.
Day one featured deep-dive workshops inspired by the Dynamic Yield Academy for customers and partners, with detailed walkthroughs of key platform features and sample use cases. With participation, attendees also had the opportunity to receive Personalization Certification as either business or technical users.
Day two of the Summit was held at the Biergarten in the Standard Hotel and included a great lineup of industry leaders in the Personalization space with presentations by:
- Liad Agmon, CEO of Dynamic Yield
- Clay Cowan & Robert Tas, McKinsey & Company
- Nathan Richter, Digital Strategy-Personalization at URBN
- David Torchiano, Sr. Director of Insights at NBC Universal
- Andy Mueller, Director of Digital Analytics at APMEX
- Meg Watson, Product Manager at Stitch Fix
- Bryan Eisenberg, NY Times Bestselling Author
- Brooks Bell & Reid Bryant, FDR & CEO + VP of Analytics & Data Science at Brooks Bell
- Zoe Levitt, Lead Retail Analyst at CB Insights
- Matt Butlein, Chief Vision Officer at Nuts.com
- Mukund Ramachandran, CMO of Dynamic Yield
Over the course of the event, a few key themes emerged. Here is your cheat sheet of the 5 key themes you should know about:
1. Personalization is hotter than ever
According to the Gartner, World Retail Congress, and McKinsey & Company research, 83% of consumers want Personalization, and it is the #1 digital initiative on many Merchants’ minds. And this makes tons of sense if you look at the experiences it can power and potential results it can drive. The summit was full of examples of improved metrics: increased RPU, increased conversion rates, CTRs etc.
2. CDP is in, Traditional ESP is out
This strong and somewhat controversial theme radiated throughout various presentations.
Customer data platforms (CDPs) are emerging as a critical category in the solution stack as it becomes ever important to be able to 1) ingest customer data from various sources 2) stitch the data together into a single view of the customer 3) pipe the enhanced data back into best-of-breed systems to deliver more fully personalized experiences for consumers across channels.
A controversial POV articulated by both Liad Agmon of Dynamic Yield and Matt Butlein of Nuts.com is that a merchant could “fire their traditional email service provider (ESP)” and instead leverage CDP data to feed a personalization platform like Dynamic Yield for the orchestration of events and experiences in concert with an Email Deliverability tool such as Sendgrid to achieve greater engagement for a significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
3. Break down the internal silos
Presentations from McKinsey, URBN and Bryan Eisenberg focused on the importance of breaking down team silos and adopting cross-functional team structures (business, technical, UX, analytics, data science channel), processes and mental models in order to action on personalization programs at scale.
4. Crawl, walk, run
One of the most pervasive themes of the whole summit was the importance of taking a CRAWL, WALK, RUN approach to Personalization in both testing hypotheses as well as execution.
In particular, Brooks Bell and Reid Bryant of Brooks Bell proclaimed “cross-functional teams need to start by asking WHY? Create theories. Test those theories. And promote those theories to insights once they have been proven by 5 tests.”
These insights drive the value/results we all crave across various customer touchpoints and at increasing levels of personalization maturity (via AI/algorithms) as the datasets grow.
5. The future of personalization is AI
Zoe Leavitt, Bryan Eisenberg, Andy Mueller, and Liad Agmon all seem to agree, although each merchant’s personalization journey starts with baby steps (ie. good data), AI is definitely the Holy Grail for personalization.
The Lead Retail Analyst at CBInsights gave a particularly insightful overview of AI in Retail and how retailers and merchants should now be measuring the ROI of retail locations with a new metric, “Data per Square Foot.” Connected devices and AI tech are starting to collect and process data in-stores and via connected homes, and by extension, derive behavioral insights that can prove what consumers actually do and want, as opposed to what we theorize they want in focus groups. These will begin powering even more impactful personalized experiences.
From brands like URBN, Stitch Fix, NBC, Apmex, Kopari Beauty and Brooklinen to thought leaders like McKinsey, Brooks Bell, Bryan Eisenberg, and CB Insights, the Personalization Pioneers Summit had something for everyone, no matter where you are on your journey in personalization.
eCommerce Manager at Kopari Beauty, Lanie De Pasquale, shared “We were a group of people who were already sold on personalization and testing so I’m so grateful they didn’t waste our time with high-level stats on how important personalization is. We all get it and are already all in. URBN’s presentation was not directly applicable to our company but it was very helpful to see the nitty-gritty of how they set up their experiences and their process to do so.”
I highly recommend attending their next event. I for one am personally very interested to see how far CDPs and AI will have come by the next time around. ‘Til then!
Sharon Gee is Co-Founder at Kogent.io