The checklist to follow when choosing your personalization platform
In today’s busy digital world, both brands and consumers recognize the benefits of personalization. 63% of respondents to a survey conducted in the US, UK and Canada said they expect personalization as standard when dealing with brands. Companies know that understanding their customers and better meeting their needs boosts conversion rates, increases revenues and improves margins.
Deploying personalization technology enables brands to deliver the right experience to consumers, benefiting the bottom line. However, there are a growing number of personalization platforms available to digital marketers, many of which now include AI capabilities. How can they be sure they are selecting the right one for their needs, and that their choice will deliver a clear return on their investment?
In its 2019 Magic Quadrant, Gartner outlined some of the key strategic capabilities you should look for in a vendor – to build on that this blog provides a checklist of the functionality your chosen platform should provide:
1 Include AI as standard
Artificial intelligence enables brands to personalize at scale, in real-time, based on the enormous amount of behavioral data visitors provide.
Whether you want to embrace AI now or in the future, look for a vendor that has strong expertise and a track record in artificial intelligence.
This will ensure their solution meets your current and future needs and enables even the most complex predictive personalization for your customers.
2 Omnichannel reach across the journey
Consumer interactions on your website are just part of their buying journey, so your solution must be able to seamlessly connect to all channels. This means it should integrate with email systems to trigger personalized follow-up communications to aid conversions.
Additionally, it should be possible to close the loop by manually adding data around offline conversions to reinforce effectiveness.
For example, in the automotive industry a test drive might be booked online through the manufacturer’s website, with the lead then passed to a local dealer. It must be simple for them to feedback on the next stage of the journey, with this offline information updating your personalization metrics.
3 Clear, transparent and easy to understand personalization platform
It is vital that marketers are confident, in control of personalization and are able to understand what their platform is doing.
This is particularly true for AI-powered systems, where many are ‘black boxes’ that don’t provide insight into the decisions that algorithms are taking on your behalf.
Therefore, look for a solution that has clear, dashboard-based reporting that links to your business goals. It should enable you to select when and where personalization actions are triggered, based on clear rules that you can set depending on your conversion goals.
4 Integrate across your marketing ecosystem
Digital marketers now have a wide range of technology at their disposal, from CRM solutions to Data Management Platforms (DMPs) and analytics programs.
Your personalization platform has to be able to seamlessly integrate with the rest of your technology stack and make it easy to move data between different solutions. This enables you to feed ‘cold’ data (such as previous transactions and customer details) from these systems into your personalization platform to give a complete picture of the customer to enable deeper insight.
Open APIs and a wide range of pre-built integrations also helps with reporting, analytics and measuring the overall effectiveness of your digital marketing programs.
5 Ability to prioritize different goals on your personalization platform
Marketers are normally looking to achieve a range of objectives through personalization. They could be aiming to increase the number of first-time visitors that convert for example, while still hitting targets around margins or sales of specific products.
These differing goals can actually contradict each other, undermining overall effectiveness. They can also impact the customer experience, with website visitors being bombarded by offers and urgency messages that annoy them and prevent conversions.
Ensure your personalization solution guards against this by allowing you to prioritize between different scenarios, just focusing on the most important when multiple personalizations are applicable. That delivers a consistent experience for the consumer and enables marketers to successfully achieve all of their goals.
6 Simple creation of target segments and scenarios
Digital marketers shouldn’t need to be programmers to get the best out of their personalization solution. Look for a platform that makes it easy to configure specific segments amongst website visitors and then makes creating and triggering actions straightforward.
It should include a large number of built-in criteria around areas such as acquisition, behavior, products viewed and the overall journey.
Ensure there is a drag and drop editor that lets you choose multiple criteria and then set and trigger specific actions within your personalization platform.
7 Integrate A/B testing on you personalization platform
Successful personalization relies on providing the right messages, offers and content to particular segments.
Robust A/B testing is essential to ensure that your personalization elements and the overall personalized journey resonate with your audiences.
While you can buy standalone A/B testing tools, look for an integrated solution that incorporates testing within your personalization platform. That enables you to quickly test new ideas and elements and see with confidence which are delivering the right results. Having testing as part of the platform enables you to analyze results more deeply and quickly make changes that drive results.
8 Delivers security, protection and data compliance
All marketers understand the impact of the GDPR on how they store, protect and use customer data. At the same time consumers are now much more aware of the amount and type of information that brands hold on them and want to be reassured that this data is being treated responsibly and guarded against malicious attacks.
Therefore, your personalization platform needs to be both compliant and secure. Look for solutions that protect users by only working with anonymized data as this makes them GDPR compliant by design.
And, given that most personalization platforms are SaaS-based, ensure that software is hosted within specific data centers that have a proven reputation for both security and the highest levels of uptime.
9 Removes the impact of Apple’s ITP solution
Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) software aims to protect consumer privacy by limiting unwanted tracking by websites and the scripts and cookies installed on them. As it is part of the Safari browser it runs as a default on all Apple iPhones and iPads, affecting a large percentage of mobile traffic.
To ensure you get accurate A/B testing results to inform your personalization campaigns ensure that you have a platform provider that understands and overcomes the challenge of Apple ITP.
10 Backed by comprehensive support
Getting the best out of your personalization platform means working in partnership with your vendor. So, ensure that they have the dedicated support to help you succeed, from technical resources to customer success managers.
Look for a vendor that takes the time to understand your business, knows your industry and has the experience to help you deliver clear ROI from your personalization.