Web Personalization Jumps the Velvet Rope

To personalize, know your customer.

For a small to medium-sized business, personalization starts with goals and key performance indicators. It begins with a hypothesis about how customer behavior should change in a personalized experience. Then it’s test, retest, and test those hypotheses again and again. This develops what GLG director of user experience Scott Scheff calls “a culture of test and learn.” While the testing serves the business, the ultimate goal is to develop a deeper relationship with customers by knowing them, responding to them, and delivering on their expectations in a personalized way.

Read Scott Scheff’s recent article: Revealing the Art of Customer Experience >

From “Read and React” to “Test and Learn”

Digital marketing analytics are creating actionable insights where those actions happen in real time based on behavior. We are rapidly moving away from the “read and react” culture with monthly reports of mind-numbingly irrelevant questions (e.g., “Is the bounce rate up? Is that good? Oh, it’s not good?”). Instead, we’re actually asking customers to tell us what they want. And then we work like mad to provide it for them immediately.

Welcome to the Age of Experience

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen identifies this new phase as the “age of experience,” where the technology supplying the personalized experience must be invisible. If the user remembers the experience and not the technology, the technology has done its job. These seamless, personalized experiences require technology, strategy, and creative teams to collaborate in ways they never have before. To be clear, I’m talking about a brand-wide cultural shift in how organizations approach the business.

Personalization starts with baby steps.

Large cultural changes like these can be difficult to make. I recommend starting small: build the culture of “test and learn” with a point solution. What’s a point solution? Check out point solution providers like Optimizely and Spin Doctor. At GLG, we focus on customer behavior to identify the elements that really drive personalized experiences—and deprioritize the elements that only drive incremental value (or don’t drive actionable behavior at all). This will create a roadmap for a program that becomes a cultural necessity. Then test. And learn. Then test again and expand. Then more testing and learning. You get the picture.

Learn how to merge customer experience and product innovation >

Beyond point solutions, holistic solution providers like HubSpot provide a remarkable set of capabilities that rival end-to-end solutions such as Adobe Marketing Cloud. When implementing, I recommend a partner with the experience needed to help change the culture. Because when it comes to creating personalized customer experiences, experience goes a long way.

1. Alberto Savoia, “Web Page Response Time 101: Understanding and Measuring Performance Test Results,” STQE magazine, July/August 2001, http://ericgoldsmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/web_page_response_time_101.pdf.

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