Get on the path to personalization
Build a team and set objectives
While we know many organizations aren’t in a position to build an army of subject-matter experts to create and conquer their personalization strategy, these roles represent the ideal team:
- Executive Sponsor: Advocates on behalf of the team
- Customer Experience (CX) Lead: Manages the personalization program
- Digital Strategist: Forms CX strategy and tactics
- Content Marketer: Leads content creation, tactics, and experience flows across channels
- Marketing Technologist: Oversees implementation tactics and integration with third-party tools and systems
- UX Designer: Spearheads overall UX and information architecture
- Digital Analyst: Provides insights and recommendations based on analytical data
Your personalization objectives should be driven by your organization’s objectives.
Define your audience segments
If you want to reach users with personalized content that resonates, try creating segments of visitors to your site based on things they have in common —age, geo-location, preferences, motivations, and goals, for example.
One type of segment is a “persona”: a data-driven representation of your ideal customer. You might have several different types of ideal customers in your target audience, so forming a range of personas to represent them will help you deliver more personalized content to each.
You might also personalize based on visitors’ past behaviors, such as goal conversions, downloads, and form data. Contextual state, such as the campaign source, time of day, or number of times they’ve visited your website or app, is also a good well to dip into when personalizing your campaigns.
A platform that comes with out-of-the-box rules for creating audience segments, such as Sitecore® Experience Platform™ (XP), helps you start to realize your personalization strategy quickly and easily.
Now that you’ve got your personas in place, it’s time to map out the stages of your customer journey. That way, you’ll know at what stages to deliver your personalized content.
Map the customer journey
The customer journey is typically segmented into four key stages:
- Need: “I want to buy a new car.”
- Research: “I’m going to take days, weeks, or months to explore different brands, models, price ranges, and reviews.”
- Decision: “I’ve got it narrowed down to my top pick. This is the car for me.”
- Customer: “I’m buying my new car today.”
Depending on your industry, product, or service, you may need to adjust or add to these stages. You’ll also want to determine how the stages will live across different channels. It’s a good idea to map out customer journeys for each major channel and explore how they overlap. That way, you can continue delivering personalized content seamlessly when an end-user switches channels or devices.
Launch, test, refine, repeat
You’ve got your goals, campaign structure, personas, and customer journey map ready. Now you can implement your first personalization campaign. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so try starting small — say, with one customer segment or one channel, such as your website.
It would be awesome if it were a “one and done” process, but if you want personalization to be a success, there’s more to it. Things like products, seasons, buyer needs, etc. are constantly changing, and you’ll have to adjust your personalization tactics accordingly if you want to avoid an experience/customer disconnect. That’s where testing comes in.
Examine your campaign results to see what’s working and what’s not. What does the data reveal about your customers, your content, or your journey map? Now refine and optimize your personalization based on this new learning.
Create, distribute, and iterate content with agility
Personalization is fueled by content. As mentioned above, you should begin your process with a content strategy, which will tell marketers and content creators how to craft content for each of the different personas you’ve identified. The personas should dictate the tone and language of the content being created.
Marketers need to be able to establish what channels will benefit from which piece of content, as well as be able to modify how the content is presented across channels.
Your technology stack should also make it easy for marketers to measure and test content, and then iterate published content in line with new data.
Start simple: Use location to drive personalization
Serving content that’s based on a consumer’s location is an easy and effective way to personalize. By knowing someone’s city, metro area, state, and country, you can tap into loads of personalization possibilities. You could serve content that’s in line with the weather they’re currently experiencing or use the name of their town in your messaging to give your content a truly local flavor.
Centralize and leverage third-party data
You can never have too much data, right? The correct answer is “right,” because as the IoT era evolves, more and more data is going to be coming at you, and fast.
But just having loads of data isn’t useful. For a truly data-driven personalization program, you need to have it all in one place and be able to integrate with the wide range of sources and tools that brought it to you, and ensure it can be distributed to any external tool or channel. That will allow you to form more precise personas and customer segments, as well as streamline your overall marketing operations thanks to a single platform acting as your content hub.
Make personalization part of your foundation
Before we started the project, we were under the impression that we had to implement two new tools. An in-depth market research showed that Sitecore covered all of our needs and requirements in one solution. It was a well-thought-out choice.