Personalization, the monster in your closet!

By ​Greg Giletto

January 29, 2015

monsterWe all grew up with stories about the boogie-ma, or the monster in the closet that resulted in sleepless nights and a bedtime position smack dab between our parents, but it’s a new kind of monster keeping marketers up at night. That monster is personalization.

New pressures from executives and strategists have pushed marketers to start exploring the world or personalization, and how they can start including personalized experiences on their own websites. It’s a new concept, and the facts aren’t all there. Companies from all over the tech space are offering different features and aspects of personalization, confusing marketers on what the word actually means and how to accomplish it. This also causes frustration on where to start, how to keep it going without overwhelming your already overwhelmed team, and how to prove it actually works. Well, I’m here to break it down, and prove the personalization monster isn’t as scary as you think! Let’s start with simply understanding what it means.

What is Personalization?

Any grade-school student would start this section by saying “Dictionary.com defines personalization as the act of designing or tailoring to meet and individual’s specifications, needs, or preferences”… and they would be 100% correct. Even in the digital marketing world, it literally means the exact same thing… changing any part of the buying journey to reflect preferences you already know about the visitor.

The real question is to what extent do you personalize? Some vendor’s offer algorithmic-based recommendation engines, others can change the site’s layout or replace banners based on past behaviors, and some do everything under the sun including real-time personalized emails and in-app personalization. I’d say the end goal is to create a unique 1-1 experience for every visitor coming to your site, but start where you are comfortable. Any and all of these tactics are personalization, and a step in the right direction.

Still overwhelmed? If you already have a testing platform that can target audiences, start using it to gather data on your audience segments and begins running small-scale tests on your largest audiences (new/returning, geo, etc.). When you find something that wins, turn it on at 100% and dig in for more granular information for your next test. For example you’ve found an experience that work’s great for returning visitors, but have uncovered it doesn’t work well for returning visitors who are also enrolled in your loyalty program. You’re next test should be focused on that group. As you work with this type of iterative process you’ll be running full-speed with personalization in no time.

For information on how to start gathering data and creating a personalization plan, see my previous blog post: The First Thing To Do When Starting A Personalization Plan.

Stay tuned for more posts that de-monstrify personalization!

Monster illustration courtesy of Shutterstock!

Greg Giletto is a former Digital Marketing Manager at Monetate. He's also a Philadelphia native and his passion for marketing is matched only by his passion for the Philadelphia Eagles.

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