Start small, think big: Getting started with personalization

  • Posted on October 25, 2018
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Customer personalization

This article was originally written by Avanade alum Xavier Stallings.

Some do it well, some… not so much, but the plain truth is everyone wants to do personalization, because they can see it’s what customers expect.

The customers who consume your content demand experiences that are tailored to their personal preferences and needs. Get personalization wrong and you risk poor customer engagement and a dwindling number of interactions – that’s a nasty kick to the KPIs.

But get it right, and you’ll see engagement soar (across all your channels), you’ll see more interactions with more customers – and you’ll see a satisfying bump on your bottom line.

It all sounds great in theory, which is why so many businesses plunge into personalization head first. But, as a wise man once said, “Only fools rush in.” When you’re getting started with personalization, it’s best to start small.

Get started by crawling – running comes later
If you try to swing too hard at personalization, you’ll quickly run into two big problems.

One: testing all those personalized journeys is a near-impossible task. And two: you’ll need an awful lot of content. Remember – for every area you want to personalize, you’ll need at least two pieces of content.

That’s why it pays to start slowly and find small areas to personalize while you hone your approach. A crawl-walk-run model can help you keep things on track by testing, learning and improving, and then growing your capabilities over time.

Crawl - Funnel traffic to a landing page, tailored for your chosen segments. From there, you can measure the engagement value of customers based on their activity across the site. That way, you can build a profile for each visitor and create an engagement plan for when they return.

Walk - As you build up engagement profiles, you can begin to show customers content tailored to their profile, moving relevant content into prime real estate on the page so they can get to it faster. At this stage you’d expect to see significantly increased levels of engagement.

Run - When you hit full speed with your program, you’ll be tracking customer activity across multiple channels to gain a holistic view of their preferences and needs. By now, you can personalize the content you offer in context of where customers are, what they’re doing, their preferred payment methods, and so on.

And perhaps I should mention another level of personalization maturity – fly – where organizations running next-level programs augment their own data with external data for a genuine 360-degree view of each customer.

Three personalization success factors
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – here are three critical things to keep front of mind before you begin your ‘crawl’ phase.

  1. Data - Continuously engage with the analytic
    For personalization to work, it’s important to keep a constant watch on the analytics so you can optimize your approach. After implementation, you should be observing and tracking improvements right away; it’s also ideal to have 30, 60 and 90-day plan for checking performance metrics and tuning the approach to get the results you expected.

  2. As your personalization program progresses, you’ll likely need a data scientist to stay on top of the analytics, giving marketing teams the insights they need to keep the program fresh, relevant and engaging.

  3. Content - Create a team with a plan
    You’ll also need an ironclad plan for content production, and a cross-functional team to develop and execute your strategy. To be effective, your content team should include people from marketing, design and IT, as well as the product owner and an overall project manager.

  4. When you’re creating content for multiple personas, languages and countries, the complexities can soon pile up. So, once again, it pays to start small and scale the teams covering the different workstreams (creative, marketing, tech, strategy, analytics) as your program grows.

  5. Governance - Don’t forget security and compliance
    It’s vital to involve your IT team early in the planning process, both to assess the technical feasibility of your personalization plans and to identify any security and compliance concerns.

  6. Balancing your personalization goals with the constraints of GDPR compliance, for example, requires a detailed knowledge of the data pipeline. Data security and privacy must be factored in from the beginning, so you know you can deliver the outcomes you’re looking for in a safe, compliant manner.

Ready to get personal?
For more practical advice on developing a successful personalization program, download our guide, Strategic view to personalization: Three key ways to speed up success.”

Even better, get in touch with one of our digital personalization experts to find out more about how we can help you take advantage of the personalization opportunity. Our team has helped clients like ExxonMobil, Tokyo Gas and SCI get award-winning results by providing a personalized customer experience.

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