Contributed by Jon Price, Sitecore & Coveo Practice Director, Sitecore & Coveo MVP at Americaneagle.com
Personalization has been a hot button topic for the past 10 years. At this point every organization has gone through the exercise of creating their customer journeys and personas and then creating a “personalization plan” for how to tailor their digital web properties to these audiences. And, for a good majority of the organizations in the world, they have come up short by their own measurement of success. Speaking of measurement, this is one reason why these endeavors fall short. Organizations spend a ton of time on implicit tracking and personalization (unknown users) trying to identify who they are, and then providing them with an optimized, happy path. Unfortunately, it is a burden to prove ROI for implicit personalization. First, in many cases, it is a bit of a guessing game. Are these users truly who we have identified them as? Second, many of the conversions for organizations are not transactional, or there aren’t enough touch points tethered together to see if they eventually did transact, such as calling into a call center.
The other area where organizations have fallen short is content. They either write content for internal pleasantries or too generically to identify or reach a particular audience they have identified. On the back end of that, if they do want to personalize, it is additional work to create variations for the different audiences, leading organizations to give up on the initiative too quickly.
With all of this said, where do we go from here? In my opinion, it’s not Crawl, Walk, Run; which truth be told, I believe is the reason why organizations give up on personalization far too quickly. They focus too much on the simple, implicit areas that provide little ROI and are simply tough to measure proper ROI. Who does the best personalization in the world today? Amazon, bingo. But how? Amazon knows exactly who you are, what you’ve bought, and what you’re looking at. Data is the answer if you haven’t drawn that conclusion yet. Specifically speaking, explicit data - known users with a full history.
Ok, so you don’t have billions of dollars to spend on strategy and implementation. That is fine. The key here is getting users to self-identify, login, fill out a form or another venue to provide Name, Email, and Interest. Once we have this, we can then track all future interactions, including offline or non-website activities. Let’s focus on self-identification for a second. What is it? Are you a Seinfeld fan? Kramer’s ‘movie phone’ episode is exactly what many organizations looks like when trying to identify what the user needs. The user made a few clicks, and now we have no idea what to do. However, Kramer was wiser by asking “how about you just tell me what you are looking for?” Bingo. Do not be afraid to ask new visitors who they are and what they are looking for. Most are willing to tell you. Users have a shorter attention span now than ever – “show me what I want now.” Once they identify what they want, the information you’ll have in your fingertips will be invaluable. You can guide them directly to the content they need. And, on return visits, you now know who they are so you can start seeing other trends which should help your future DX strategy of what to do next.
Identifying and having known users will open up other opportunities and solve other traditional hurdles. Omnichannel is becoming important now, and having a full view between the website, CRM, marketing automation system, and call center is crucial for understanding the full journey. That’s a topic for next time.
Personalization is a crucial aspect of delivering a great customer experience. It must be done intelligently – by using data and content – in order to produce a personalization strategy that will guide your customers on their journey and build trust and strength between them and your brand.