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Amit Thapliyal Author's Perspective
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3 Minute read

Personalization at Scale— How to Achieve

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Personalization is not a technological upgrade, it is your business’ requirement to communicate with the customers effectively. A means of achieving your bigger business goals and marketing objectives.

In last blog, we looked at the Personalization at Scale: Challenges. In this blog, we will find out how marketers can remove friction, improve engagement, get their personalization strategy right, and, most importantly, drive revenue and business results.

How to Achieve It?

Remember, Personalization is not a goal in itself. Personalization is a means to meet your marketing goals; a part of your digital strategy that needs to be tightly coupled with your business goals.

Here are the steps that can help you overcome your barriers to personalization:

Step 1: Customer-First Approach: Understand Your Customers and Their Behavior:

Personalization is built upon the data gathered from customer’s buying behavior. It all begins with creating segments based on customer’s behavioral data and creating customer profiles from it. Many digital experience platforms like Sitecore allow you to create what they call “Experience Profile”, based on key areas of customer experience and interaction, such as visitor details, visits, campaigns, goals, profiles, automations, and more.

Combining segments and customer journeys helps create a range of “microsegments,” which form the basis of 1:1 personalization.

“‘Customer first’ will remain the basic principle of business,” says Zeng. “In the industrial age, ‘customer first’ was the ultimate goal, often a principle or even just a slogan. In the digital age, ‘customer first’ is the starting point of any business. The operation model has to be built with customers in the driver’s seat.

  • Ming Zeng, chief of staff and strategy advisor to Alibaba Group and author of Smart Business: What Alibaba’s Success Reveals About the Future of Strategy.

The goal here is to reduce the customer’s ‘cognitive load’, to evaluate choices and channels. To do this, you must understand the context of every interaction. Here, channels play a major role e.g., your mobile/eCommerce app may be better suited to indicate urgency than a click-through on your product emailers. Anticipating what they want and presenting it with contextual content is paramount to generating the best outcome of an interaction.

  1. Map Customer Journeys:

    Customer journey mapping (CJM) is a discipline that allows organizations to step into their customers’ shoes, to gain valuable insights that can help them improve the customer experience. The process of customer journey mapping enables organizations to better understand and visualize interactions (often across different profiles).

    Today, marketers understand that the path to purchase is not linear. Buyers have more ways to interact with a businesses than ever before, and the focus has shifted from getting people into your funnel to delivering an exceptional customer experience.

    A journey map has personas on the top, experiences in the middle, and Insights at the bottom.

    To elaborate on this customer journey map, persona on the top signify— what are the goals and expectations from this particular journey. In the heart of the map (middle part), is experience, where we try to seek answers to— what are the steps and the actions that make up the activities, and what are customers thinking during that? How do they feel about it? Customer reviews and videos are captured at this point. 

    On the bottom of the map, we not only look at the phases and steps, but identify the opportunities. For example, the opportunity is to reduce friction in that particular step, this could be done by reducing something or by adding something.

     

    To know more about Customer Journey Mapping & how it can help your brand turbocharge your understanding of your customers, access our whitepaper: Customer Journey Mapping- The Blueprint for Modern Marketers

  2. Break Channel Silos:

    It is important to move away from campaigns based on channel silos (email, website etc.) towards real-time interactions based on customer journey with your brand, across the touchpoints. Meet them when and where it suits them, they are not present across every channel all the time, and when they choose their channel of interaction- be ready with a personalized message best suited to the channel.

    This way you can sustain your engagement and optimize your marketing strategy.

  3. Create Moments Of Truth and Engagement:

    Marketers who are succeeding in their personalization efforts are moving beyond rule-based-personalization, towards engagement triggers based on goals. This allows them to create engagements at the ‘moments of truth’ best suited for converting engagement into “purchase moments”.

  4. Plan for Personalization Beyond the Transaction:

    You got that conversion and the purchase transaction, what next? Two of the most important metrics today to measure the impact of your CX is Customer Value over a period of time OR CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) and Churn.

    Your marketing programs should take the post purchase journey of a customer in mind and continue engaging them, suggest refill/repurchase events and product bundling offers not to forget loyalty and feedback campaigns.

Step 2: Personalization Paralysis is a Landmine- Don’t Step into it:

Before you embark on your journey to personalization and invest budgets, time, and resources, it is important that you sit back and think about your goals and objectives.

Often, marketers spend too much time in trying to collect behavioral data on each customer and segment. However, behavioral data is a function of interactions over a period of time. Each time they interact with you, their clicks and visits tell you a micro story about what they are thinking and what they need at that point of time. Another dimension to the problem is the huge range of channels, systems from where you need to pull this behavioral data.

One way to avoid this is taking smaller steps. Plan for the most optimum data and segments you can run your first personalization experiment with and iteratively build behavioral data, expand your campaigns and next phases, add more channels and systems to integrate with later.

Step 3: Define Your Objectives & Create a Roadmap:

Defining your outcomes mapped to business outcomes is another way to avoid getting stuck & ensuring your personalization initiatives pay dividends.

It is imperative you clearly define the outcome you want to drive and then gather the data needed to personalize. So it’s not the cart before the horse which will work but the horse needs to be trained well to pull off the cart and win the race.

While laying the objectives, one common mistake organizations make is that they confine themselves at the geographic / locational level i.e. they define the goal specific to a country or location they operate in. Thus, the personalization of homepage, for instance, will be done as per the language, culture, etc. of the country. This, however, is only the first level. To make it effective, the definition needs to be deeper and the step further should be to understand the position of the customer in the customer journey and personalize at that level.

For instance, while buying a smartphone, one would research on the web and surf through the website to check the stock, deals or itinerary a few times before the purchase is made. So, it’s basically a trajectory of awareness, consideration and selection and depending on where the consumer is (at what point along the trajectory), the level of personalized content will vary. At the point of awareness, product features may be more helpful, while at the final point of purchase (selection), the pricing and reviews will hold more significance for the consumer.

It is critical to understand the personas and profiles of the consumers to personalize at the segment level, which makes it level three in terms of understanding. The final level, where many organizations are not delivering, is the one to one personalization i.e. every individual gets an individualized experience.

Once you set the ground right with these steps, you need to take some critical operational decisions i.e., selecting the right personalization platform and integrating your martech stack- to create a single view of customers.

Does your personalization platform provide you a comprehensive experience in optimization capabilities in the marketplace? Our fourth blog Tips to Select the Right Personalization Platform deals with this topic.

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Amit Thapliyal VP - Marketing, Altudo | MVP - Strategy, Sitecore


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