The Personalisation Technology Manifesto
Tackling personalisation is a serious organisational challenge; the nature of the technologies involved and the way they restructure the relationship between businesses and consumers necessitates full involvement. The companies benefiting most from the changing expectations of the market are those that, like Adobe partner Royal Bank of Scotland for example, have examined their internal structure through the lens of these new opportunities.
But this knowledge can be overly intimidating. I’m often asked where companies should even begin when looking for optimisation and personalisation solutions, and while I’ll always stress the importance of the holistic people and process approach, it’s important to remember that you can rely on the tech, and that it will continue to develop as your needs do.
To that end I’ve broken the field down into a number of topics that I’ll be exploring in order – these are the components than any personalisation technology that you invest in should have – a manifesto for personalisation technology if you like.
Testing and Optimisation: A/B Testing and Multivariate Targeting are foundational elements of personalisation. But like any other general purpose tool, the trick is anticipating the smartest way to apply them.
Business Rules and Geo-Targeting: We all know how trivial it is to grasp some of the most important insights about our potential customers right off the bat. If our businesses have geographic constraints, why not apply geographic data to our personalisation regime?
Algorithms and Machine Learning: All businesses should be aware of the vast potential of algorithms as a personalisation solution. Machines learn faster, at no cost, reacting to sudden, often imperceptible market changes. Most importantly, they provide that critical 1:1 personalisation at scale, something that soon becomes a critical capability for those who master it. Here, we’re talking about automated personalisation and recommendations.
Reporting and Analysis: You need to be able to collect and analyse the data you are generating from your personalisation strategy in real-time and share the insights from it with the other members of your team and the other tools that your organisation uses.
Mobile and Cross-Channel capabilities: You should know by now that your business model is incomplete if it’s lacking in consideration for the mobile market- and so is your personalisation. All of our customers are migrating to the mobile world. Personalisation in this arena is sometimes more challenging, but developing user comfort and familiarity in the face of these obstacles is the key to long-term loyalty and conversion.
Usually, when individuals and organisations alike approach personalisation and optimisation, they think of these capabilities in tiers: with simple elements such as basic A/B testing at the bottom, and the more complex options (algorithmic modeling, automated personalisation) at the top, far out of their reach. This is the type of thinking, while far from baseless, is something I hope to challenge with this series.
Just as a complete business strategy for personalisation leverages the entire organisation towards transformational goals, a complete technological approach tackles all available opportunities, even if it will take time to reap the benefits of some. Your company may indeed be wise to first focus its efforts on strategic personalisation of your mobile or desktop presence, but with the right tools, there’s no reason not to, say, set and forget automated personalisation activities in high-value real estate areas. Now while you’re putting the right structure to your basics, you’ve got advanced testing collecting data for when you’re ready to digest it.
And this is only the beginning. The goal here is to free yourself from looking at personalisation from the bottom up. We can instead approach it from the inside out, establishing the core of all the capabilities available to us, and then working our way out to more sophisticated and individualised application of each.
I intend to build on this manifesto in a series of articles, each of which will expand on what opportunities are provided by each aspect of the technology, and examine a case study in how real businesses capitalised on this aspect to elevate their models above those of their competitors. The purpose is to provide a framework for understanding what personalisation and optimisation should deliver for you- whatever your capabilities and business goals may be.