Insights From an Optimization and Personalization Program
by Drew Burns
posted on 08-29-2016
If you’ve recently been tasked with providing personalized experiences for visitors or customers, it may seem overwhelming at first — nearly impossible even. But, don’t panic! The first step is to make sure your team, your process, and your strategy/roadmap are in place.
In many organizations, people feel so overwhelmed that they often give up before they even get started; while in other companies, team members might rush to implement solutions too quickly and miss out on strategic benefits. Instead, take one step at a time — beginning with making sure you have the proper roles in place.
Putting the Proper Roles and Processes in Place
It doesn’t take an army. Teams can comprise 1–3 part-time or dedicated team members (depending on scale) and should establish a core governance model. The most essential role is that of the optimization and personalization team member who oversees the roadmap and coordinates testing or targeting activities across all digital touchpoints. This role can also be vital in communicating results and insights across the broader team and reorganizing the roadmap of upcoming activities accordingly.
Other important roles include an executive sponsor (who must remain informed of your successes and efforts), a content designer/creator (often you, utilizing a visual editor provided with the tool), and perhaps even a developer resource for testing more advanced features like site or app functionality.
To maximize your scalability through an assembly line of optimization and personalization activities, you should have an established process for the development, validation, creation, quality assurance, execution, and reporting of activities.
Finally, it’s important that you regularly collect ideas both from quantitative analyses (e.g., analytics or previous-activity reports/insights) and qualitative analyses (e.g., suggestions made by colleagues or specialists from different areas of the business, customer focus groups/surveys, etc.) and that you then run cost-benefit analyses as well to prioritize these activities with regard to what holds the most value (and can be reevaluated regularly based on new results). When both the organization and digital governance model are in place, the optimization and personalization solution should be everywhere you place content — enabling you to answer all of your test hypotheses and establish your personalization strategy with the accuracy born from analyzing the right data and accessing the insights from your reports.
Taking Successful First Steps With Real-Time Optimization and Personalization
Ideally, your analytics solution works alongside your optimization and personalization solution to surface insights regarding where you may need to test a more personalized experience (quantitative analysis mentioned above). This can be really powerful when automation is involved. Features like anomaly detection and contribution analysis within Adobe Analytics, for example, show an audience that is deviating from the mean appreciably in terms of engagement as well as the most probable root causes of this behavior. With a server-to-server integration that has an optimization and personalization solution like Adobe Target — sharing a unified progressive profile and synchronized data — this very same audience segment can be shared and placed into a test to determine the best method for reengagement. This is where real-time insights and analytics work hand-in-hand with optimization and personalization to make you more adaptable to changing trends and to prevent you from overlooking any audience that may be underserved at any point in the customers’ journeys with you.
Here’s a great real-world example. Let’s say, you suddenly have a lot of traffic coming from a specific YouTube video, but it’s not converting. Smart tools (e.g., analytics with machine-learning) can help you understand more about why that audience is not converting as well as reveal how that audience is behaving appreciably different from how typical website visitors act. That information can lead to optimized personalization that can help that audience overcome the hurdle to conversion.
You can also save this audience as a specific segment. You know that a YouTube video motivated them to click through to your site but not to convert. This allows your marketing team to see whether a real-time, personalized message might motivate them to progress. For instance, the subject of the YouTube video might be a recent boot-camp workout in which they wear a specific type of shoe, but once audience members click through to the company’s website, they are unable to find that shoe. Perhaps, if they tested different treatments of a landing page dedicated to this workout craze — and the specific shoe worn in it — they could reduce the bounce from this referrer segment. It’s important not to jump to conclusions here. Running an A/B test can help you test your way into learning more about this audience.
Personalization can be as simple as pushing the previously mentioned personalized landing page or even a retargeting campaign or more nuanced drip-marketing campaign. However, if the data and tools required to personalize messaging are unavailable to your team, the nuanced option is unavailable as well. In the case of retargeting, the solution should not only provide rich data and accessibility of optimization and personalization across your organization, but also be able to be implemented within all of your digital channels — literally, everywhere you place content, including web and mobile sites, offsite in emails and partner sites, in mobile applications, and even on Internet-connected devices and screens. Sending a personalized retargeting email based on cart or content abandonment — coupled with personalized automated recommendations also targeted through Adobe Target — has yielded some of the biggest lifts in conversion we’ve experienced!
Democratizing Personalization and Maximizing Your Strategy
Personalization and optimization (including testing) tools — like Adobe Target — can allow marketers, analysts, and customer-service specialists to act on data-driven insights into what is working for certain audiences — and even for specific individuals — and update their digital experiences in real-time to match their preferences. Leveraging real-time data — alongside the full contextual view of analytics for taking action on testing, personalizing to shared audiences, or drilling down with the full weight of your data analyses — can increase your confidence in qualifying your content-personalization decisions without overlooking key data points or success metrics that could potentially be impacted. In essence, this provides confidence in the recommendations and business decisions you make based on your testing and optimization efforts.
Adobe Marketing Cloud — the free, collaborative environment that houses Adobe Target, Adobe Analytics, and other great Adobe solutions — provides a progressive, unified marketing-cloud profile that can also be easily appended through core services with additional customer-relationship management (CRM)/first-party data, second-party profile data, and even third-party data feeds for a full view of your customer (and what data is most predictive for personalization).
However, this data intelligence and the required analyses can be intimidating. That’s why having built-in, machine-learning automation and analyses within testing and personalization activities can speed you to insights, surfacing what is most predictive — relative to different personalized content choices — and delivering them in real time to maximize ROI. Essentially, they can be your automated data science and analytics team within a test or targeted activity. Choose tools that allow everyone on your team access to the data, testing, and machine-learning automation capabilities they need to feel confident that they are doing their jobs excellently.
Optimization and personalization teams that are confident in their results — based on a full view of their data and ease in analyses — help your customers, your employees, and your brand. Improved customer targeting gives your customers access to the offers, discounts, experiences, and information they desire most; provides your employees with the power to craft better, more persuasive, and more informed campaigns; and allows your brand to reap the benefits of happier customers and employees.