12 Answers to Hard Questions about Personalization

By Alexis N. Crawford, Digital Marketing Director, Monetate

October 3, 2017

On September 21st, Monetate, Forrester, and Retail TouchPoints partnered on the webinar entitled, “The Personalization 2.0 Imperative.” For 60 minutes, Brendan Witcher of Forrester and Jonathan Duch, Director of Product Marketing at Monetate demonstrated how the best brands are delivering individualized customer experiences.  

Watch Brendan’s and Jonathan’s recorded webinar presentation and Q&A

During the Q&A, Brenden and Jonathan got a lot of tough questions — too many to get to during the presentation. So, for your reading pleasure, we are tackling all those great, hard questions here.

[Quick disclaimer - To hear exactly how Jonathan and Brendan answered many of the questions, check out the webinar recording. Below we answer the same questions and more, but in a format that is shorter, easy to read, and gives you some links for further information.]

Can Real Time be Real Time?

Q. How much of the real-time intent calculation can be done? Even Amazon fails at it by recommending products that I've already bought or that I'm not interested in. Is there anyone out there that you could say is doing this well?

A. Amazon does a good job with product recommendations, although we all recognize that even they miss the mark sometimes. That’s partly due to the huge diversity of their product offerings. But there is another important factor. Aside from product recommendations they are not personalizing much of your experience.  

The Essential Guide to Personalization

While no engine is correct 100% of the time, those that are winning the personalization battle are creating unique experiences that are driving higher conversions and more loyal relationships. The most successful consider not just product offerings but content personalization across all interactive points. The Essential Guide to Personalization does a great job of highlighting how personalization is done right.

Individualization or Segmentation

Q. Could you explain further the L'Occitane example? Especially how male vs. female is individualization rather than segmentation?

A. If you watched the webinar, Brenden highlights L'Occitane in an example. L'Occitane is experimenting with facial recognition software that identifies the gender of a shopper walking by the store front. Based on that analysis L'Occitane personalizes digital signage to appeal to that audience, promoting products that might be of most interest to them.  

It’s important for us to remember that Individualization does not mean creating a unique piece of content for each person. Rather, it means choosing the right content against all available choices, using what you know about the person. It is an evolution of “segmentation” delivered in a moment while each individual is passing the store. Imagine taking this even further; matching products not just to gender, but also by age, attire or by the direction from which they came.

The whitepaper, Demystifying Personalization delves into this idea further, and provides some great concrete examples.

Profiting from Personalization
“Profiting from Personalization.”

Q. Where can I find the Boston Consulting Group study you referred to in the presentation?

A. The study is called, “Profiting from Personalization.”  It is fascinating and worth a read. However, if you are pressed for time, Jonathan Duch wrote a summary of the study and its key takeaways.

The cost of customer data

Q. With so many companies asking for customer 'data', do you feel additional incentives are needed to get customers to provide their personal info?

A. First, it’s important to realize that you already have more information than you probably realize. There is a lot of hidden treasure in the data you already collect. When you are ready to go beyond currently available insights we encourage brands to create experiences that are transparent in the purpose for the data collection, and the data collection itself is part of the shopping journey.  The North Face wizard that Brendan shared on the webinar is an excellent example of that in action.

However, there may be times when incentives are helpful - for example a promo code in exchange for the customer telling you a little about himself. But the need for incentives will vary based on the information you hope to gather and the relationship you have with the customer.  

The Personalization Development Framework

Where should I start with personalization?

Q. How would you recommend I get started with personalization? Where should I start?

A. The answer depends on your organization, and your goals. However, we conducted a study of over 100 different companies and distilled how they approach personalization into a handy infographic. It addresses how many marketers are approaching the fundamentals of personalization including data, planning, measurement and more.

Measuring the impact of personalization

Q. How do you measure the value of real-time personalization?  

A. Brendan did a great job summarizing the long-term impact of personalization on customer satisfaction, conversions and lifetime customer value. He reminds us that personalization is not about a single promotion or outbound campaign, but about a strategic imperative.  Having said that, he also points out that personalization can address specific pain points for example, reducing bounce rate on a particular page, or driving up email subscriptions.

Who should own personalization in my organization?

Q. Where do you recommend personalization sit within an organization, and who should own it?

A: Brendan and Jonathan both addressed this question in the webinar. Organizations which have advanced personalization practices don’t have a single person responsible for it, rather they focus on financial goals applied across the organization as a whole. However, if you are just getting started it’s important to have a personalization champion that can help educate and motivate the organization. Once the program gains traction, the leader can give ownership back to the customer touchpoint teams.

Upcoming holiday trends

Q. What should we expect for 2017 holiday season trends?

A. We are working on our 2017 holiday guide, and expect to have it out shortly. In the meantime you can check out our 2017 Holiday Shopping Guide. It’s full of helpful insights and recommendations that are still relevant today.

The use of transactional history in machine learning marketing

Q: Do you include transactional history in your models?

A. Yes, the Monetate Intelligent Personalization Engine can support virtually any data element including transaction history.  One of the exciting things about using artificial intelligence is the ability to find connections we might not otherwise have been able to understand.

The differences between optimization, segmentation, and personalizationMonetate Personalization Period

Q: Can you talk about the differences between optimization, segmentation, and personalization?

A. They are all interrelated. In fact, a solid personalization program will have elements of all three. We typically see marketers adopt optimization first, then segmentation, and add 1:1 personalization. A complete approach utilizes all three. To help explain these concepts more in depth, we developed the “Personalization Pyramid,” to show how each of the three contribute to overall success, including this quick video.

How hard is it to use AI?

Q: How much effort/time goes into getting the data in place before one starts using AI?

A.  Our customers are surprised how quickly machine learning can add value while only using data that is easily available. We generally recommend starting with a small set of data inputs to build a foundation, then grow your complexity over time as resources allow and insights signal new areas of opportunity.

How can I learn more about Monetate?

Q: Where can I get a look at Monetate Intelligent Personalization Engine?

A. OK. No one actually asked this question, but if you are curious about Monetate and what we can do for you, requesting a demonstration of the Monetate platform is a great place to start.

Interested to learn more, watch Brendan’s and Jonathan’s recorded webinar presentation and Q&A

Do you have a question we didn’t address? We love curious minds and would love to help. Contact us!

B2B marketing professional, Alexis Crawford, uses her creative marketing skills to help drive high-quality leads to the sales team. Through organization and enthusiasm, she is able to show marketing isn’t just about process and technology, it is about the passion behind the brand.

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