How to Select Your Personalization Partner
A Step by step Guide To Choosing the right solution
Brought to you by Barilliance
Why Personalization Matters
Customers respond to personalized experiences.
According to Forbes, 94% say that “delivering personalization is critical or important to reaching customers”, dedicating up upwords of 20% of their budgets to these efforts.
The challenges of personalization are many, compounded by the fact that personalization technologies are evolving at a rapid pace.
This guide is built to help you make critical distinctions between personalization vendors. Read to understand the top four challenges retailers face when adopting personalization technologies, and the critical questions you should ask potential parters.
Below are the most common (and difficult) challenges in personalization.
1. Data Unification - The biggest challenge with data is that it is siloed. How can you collect and connect customer behavior, demographics, product/category affinities, and purchase history across all channels?
2. Cross-Device Continuity - Personalization software that focus on single-device provide (at best) a partial view of your actual customer journey. At worst, it gives you an inaccurate roadmap to make decisions - leading directly to lost opportunities.
3. Segmentation Opportunities - Data is useless without the ability to analyze and take action.
4. Personalization Capabilities - The strength of your partner's personalization capabilities will directly correlate to your ability to maximize opportunities.
Data Challenges: Empowering Success
Personalization depends on data. High quality data empowers better segmentation, more accurate recommendations, and better customer experiences throughout your site.
The biggest challenge with data is that it is siloed. How can you collect and connect customer behavior, demographics, product/category affinities, and purchase history across all channels?
Key Data Questions
Will your personalization partner give you a complete picture?
What data gathering capabilities does your technology have?
Personalization depends on data. Without the ability to gather a wide array of customer behavior, such as web actions, specified goals, referral traffic sources, demographic data, third party data, and purchase behavior, a solution is unable to create the most accurate portrayal of your customers.
Are you able to integrate offline customer behavior?
If you have brick and mortar stores, this is an absolute must. According to a survey of 1,288 consumers conducted by Retail Dive, 66% research online before purchasing in store, with half of respondents regularly researching online before offline purchase. Without being able to connect purchase history to web behavior, you will make suboptimal recommendations.
Can you upload our existing customer data?
You do not want to start from scratch. Being able to integrate existing data will not only expedite your payback period, it will make your personalization experiences better. Both increase ROI.
Are you able to track customers and collect data if they are not logged in?
Chances are that an overwhelming number of returning customers and every new visitor will not be logged in. What strategies does your personalization partner employ to gather and personalize anonymous user experiences?
Are you able to create a 360 (unified) view of customers?
Finally, your personalization provider needs to be able to combine all of this collected data. Typically, a 360 degree view of a customer needs to include web behavior, offline behavior, in-app behavior, and phone orders.
Cross-Device Challenges: Empowering continuity
Personalization software that focus on single-device provide (at best) a partial view of your actual customer journey. At worst, it gives you an inaccurate roadmap to make decisions - leading directly to lost opportunities.
Being able to tie customer’s across their multiple devices is a top priority. According to a study by Signal, “80% of consumers bounce between devices and 40% of online transactions involve multiple devices along the way.”
Key Cross Device Questions
Will your personalization partner empower you to create continuity?
How do you aggregate data across devices?
You personalization provider needs to be able to identify customers across mobile, tablet, and desktop to unify data collected on any device they use.
What marketing channels is your technology able to communicate with to customers?
Channels change. Today's consumers interact with brands beyond just email. Possible channels include social platforms, chat, SMS, and of course, in person.
Segmentation Challenges: Creating Opportunities
The truth is...
Data is useless without the ability to analyze and take action. Segmentation is what allows you to identify high priority customers such as your biggest spenders, new customers, high risk customers (those that used to buy often, but not anymore) or those that align with your merchandizing goals.
Key Segmentation Questions
Will your personalization partner empower you to create opportunities?
Can you create and save your own segments based on customer data?
Personalization providers should provide tools for you to create custom audiences based on business and merchandising goals.
Can you specify priority between segments to ensure that customers in multiple segments are not bombarded with marketing messages.
As you continue to build out your personalization strategies, customers will begin to fall into multiple segments. Having the flexibility to create your own logic is essential.
Can you automatically add customers to segments?
Personalization tools should be able to save you time by automating tasks such as adding customers to segments and initiating campaigns.
Can you export defined segments?
There may be cases where you want to import specific segments onto other platforms. Ask about the technologies capabilities to export defined segments.
Personalization Challenges: Maximizing Opportunities
Personalization is not a commodity.
The strength of your partner's personalization capabilities will directly correlate to your ability to maximize opportunities. One difficulty is that many providers use the same words, but mean different things. "Real time" or "omnichannel" can actually mean drastically different things to each provider, so make sure to further clarify to fully understand distinctions between your options.
Key Personalization Questions
Will your personalization partner empower you to maximize opportunities?
What capabilities does your technology have to personalize customer experiences? Does your solution offer "true personalization" - including the ability to change content and offerings based on product affinities?
Personalization can (and should) go way beyond product recommendations. There are a host of personalization capabilities that may be important to you, including the ability to personalize site navigation, site content including images and copy, promotions, products, or any other site content.
In order to be effective, your personalization vendor must personalize customer experiences in real time, based on demonstrated affinities to product attributes (ex. visiting category pages, adding products to carts, reading product guides, etc.).
Does your solution work across all channels, or is your product a point solution for a particular pain point?
Some vendors do not have a full offering, and are restricted to helping you in niche situations such as just product recommendations or just social retargeting. Seek a solution that is capable of personalizing the entire customer journey, not just one step.
How do you personalize the experience for anonymous users?
First time visitors are some of the most important visitors to your site. It is a challenge for personalization partners, because this group has the least amount of information on them. How do you personalize content if you don't know who they are? Your chosen solution should be able to personalize the experience through collected demographic data such as location and device, as well as further personalize the experience in real time based on on-site behavior.
Can I create custom personalization strategies based on our business objectives?
You have business objectives that lay outside of the data machine learning algorithms are built on. Because of this, it is important that you can create logic based rules that override the machine learning personalization suggestions.
How do you handle product variations?
It is likely that some of your products will have variations.
Your personalization partner should empower you to promote specific product variations, showing the optimal variation based on learned user affinities. Product recommendation widgets should be able to show your variations as well.
Be Honest - You need to come to the table with clear business objectives. The truth is, you may not need a complicated solution to reach your goals.
Be Transparent -Share your business goals with every potential partner you talk to. Allow them to share their expertise and contribute to the vision of how personalization will transform your customer's experience.
Be Inquisitive - It's not enough to read these questions here. You need to reach out today, schedule a demo, and begin educating yourself on possible solutions for your company. When you are with a potential vendor, realize that they want to help you understand their product, and see if you are a great fit. Ask, and ask again.
We help retailers increase revenue by creating personalized experiences for their customers across mobile, web, and email.
We do this by aggregating and collecting your data in one place, and using machine learning to automatically create optimal experiences overtime. Partners have the ability to explicitly create personalization strategies that match their own business objects.
Our technology stack has helped well over 500 world class companies, including US Appliances, GANT, and Pushys.
If you believe personalization can help create better experiences for your customers and increase revenues, fill out the form and speak with a personalization expert. Discover if Barilliance is the right partner for you.