Building a Business Case for Personalization

Personalization is the Future of Marketing

Undoubtedly, Personalization is the future of marketing. Customers interact with organizations across an ever growing number of channels and devices and those who can deliver tailored experiences at the moment of need will be the stand-out winners.

Gartner reports “by 2018 organizations that have fully invested in all types of personalization will outsell companies that have not by 20%”. Similarly, Forrester’s findings showed “personalization is critical for marketers seeking to enhance customer centricity and engagement.”

As a marketer, personalization presents an exciting opportunity to create a competitive advantage through increased customer engagement, conversions, and loyalty. That said, personalization can also seem like a daunting challenge when figuring out how to get started.

For many marketers, the prospect of identifying each of your customer personas and then creating, delivering, and maintaining separate personalized content at each touch point can seem overwhelming. Not to mention the challenge of figuring out how to effectively integrate personalization throughout your existing marketing tech stack. 

There’s no denying that personalization takes a bit more effort than simply flicking an “on” switch. Luckily, you don’t need to have the entire machine built and running perfectly on day one to gain significant value from your efforts. In fact, taking a “crawl, walk, run” approach today will help you build a value-added asset you can act on that cannot easily be replicated by competitors overnight as they scramble to catch up.

Using Data to Build Your Personalization Business Case

In order to personalize customer experiences, you need to understand who each of your customer segments are and how they interact with your brand throughout their customer journey. Only then will you be able to ensure that the content you’re serving is highly relevant and sent to the right person, at the right time, using the right medium.

This is where the “crawling” comes in. The first step in creating a foundation that enables personalization is simply to collect data about the likely thousands of visitors, anonymous and known, that visit your digital properties. The insights provided by this data will allow you to map each unique visitor against your target customer personas.

This identification can be informed by a mix of profile data (demographic), behavioral data, campaign data, and even implicit data like customer preferences and interests.

After several weeks of data collection and segmentation, you will have a clear picture of who your users are, how they interact with your brand, and where they are in their customer journey. Then, with this new information, you can plan a number of realistic experiments to achieve any number of business and strategic goals.

For example, let’s say upon reviewing your collected data, you notice one of your identified customer segments has a dramatically lower conversion rate than others. Looking at your site clues, you notice that while the “One-size-fits-all” messaging you’re currently serving broadly covers some of your audiences, it hardly appeals to this particular segment’s needs.

Realizing this is low hanging fruit, you set the goal of increasing conversions among this lagging customer segment by 20%. Because you’re able to serve customized content specifically to this audience, you hypothesize that by using a few historically correlated tactics, you should be able to positively influence conversions.

Such tactics for this segment could include: 

  • Personalizing based on visitor stage in the buying journey (Different messaging and content offers to drive them to the next stage in the funnel)
  • Personalizing based on visitor location (Serve localized offers and content)
  • Personalizing based on visitor interests (Informed by historical customer data, persona mapping, or live behavior on your site)

This example stands as just one of many experiments you could design in creating a compelling business case for how personalization could drive real revenue for your organization through strategic customer engagement.

On the other hand, while utilizing a personalization strategy can be tremendously beneficial to many organizations, it may not be right for everyone at any time. By using this phased, data collection first approach, you may conversely learn that personalization may not make sense for your business at this stage as you’re audiences are not differentiated enough, cannot be easily segmented into personas, or are not statistically significant enough yet to warrant personalization.

So taking this approach can provide a cost effective way to evaluate the value of personalization and your organizational readiness without a full blown investment.  

Collecting the Data - The Right Tools For the Job

Perhaps the simplest way to get started with personalization is to use a personalization platform. Many of these platforms integrate seamlessly with your existing marketing stack, sitting right on top of your CMS and other digital platforms. The more comprehensive technologies generally offer two parts, data collection/segmentation and content delivery.

When it comes to the first part, after setting up some segmentation criteria initially, these technologies can largely automate the data collection and persona identification process making it easy to start learning about your visitors. From this data, you can start to design a number of initial personalization experiments against your goals, as we suggested earlier.

The second core functionality, the delivery component, then allows you to execute these experiments across all your channels easily. We will dive more into this topic and how you can execute on the data you collect using the content you already have in the next post in this blog series.

To learn how you can start collecting data today, head over to our Acquia Partner page.


Written by

Kevin Fernando

Kevin Fernando

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