You probably saw this line of text pop up in your newsfeed, slack channels or email inbox about a hundred times the week of December 9th, 2019. At least, we know we did.
Your gut reaction might have been a nicely chosen expletive. After all, doesn’t personalization perfectly embody the holy grail of marketing: right person, right message, right time?
The truth is, it still does. But with the rapid rise of personalization as a buzzword, many marketers and vendors were diving into a cavern full of possibility without a flashlight. There is more to this story than marketers’ frustration with personalization strategies not bearing the promised fruits. The real story is: why is personalization so hard?
27% of marketers believe data is the key obstacle to personalization — revealing [apparent] weaknesses in data collection, integration and protection. – Gartner
63% of marketers say data-driven personalization is the most difficult online tactic to execute. – AdWeek
At AB Tasty, we’ve built a personalization platform that prioritizes ease of use – for example, by providing ample data collection to start somewhere. Marketers don’t need an in-depth understanding of CDPs and a fully optimized data management program to get started creating personalized experiences.
We don’t think that the vast majority of marketers are going to abandon personalization any time soon. But we do think there are right and wrong ways of adopting personalization into your organization, and marketers that don’t choose an approach that really works for them will end up dropping off the bandwagon.
Start Simple or Go Back to Basics
We think that many marketers simply got carried away with all the exciting possibilities afforded by personalization strategies. And who can blame them? The thought of tailoring your clients’ digital experiences to reflect exactly who they are, what they want and when they want it, in real-time, is pretty seductive.
But a 1:1 personalization strategy can’t be implemented overnight. It’s complex, and requires a formidable amount of planning, data, and resources.
What we want to emphasize however, is that you don’t have to jump into personalization at this level of complexity! There’s nothing wrong with starting ‘simple,’ and scaling as necessary. We’ve built AB Tasty’s personalization functionalities around this principle.
Marketers Build Their Own Targeted Audiences
With personalization, there’s always going to be a ‘chicken and egg’ problem: do you start building the content, and match the audiences to that? Or do you start with targeting your audiences, and conceive of the messages to match?
When designing our platform, we opted for the audience-first approach. Marketers can choose from a wide range of targeting criteria – behavioral, attribute and interest – to build and save an audience. They can then build personalized content and campaigns around those audiences, and measure their chosen goals from there.
The benefit of this segmentation-driven approach, as opposed to a fully AI-powered, 1:1 approach, is that you can clearly keep track of who is seeing what, and what the results are for each campaign. Your audiences remain distinct, and you keep firmly in control – no black boxes. Then, as marketers see actual results from their personalization campaigns, there are more advanced features to work with.
Start With Templates and Expand From There
Even when you know you’re starting with your audience, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to slice and dice your website visitors into segments. Where should you start? What segments are actually going to be relevant?
We’ve added a set of audience templates for precisely this reason – to give marketers a springboard to start testing their personalization campaigns. These are frequently used audience segments that are very likely to produce good results, but that you can tweak and perfect as you iterate on your personalization strategy.
A No Coding Required Widget Library and Drag-and-Drop Editor
Ok, so you have your relevant audience segments. Now, you need to build your custom content. This is where marketers often run into trouble – they need to find a developer colleague that can spare the time to help them make their content personal.
From the beginning, our promise has been around limiting to the utmost the amount of coding skills required to create excellent customer experiences. Our drag-and-drop editor and our pre-packaged widget library are the cornerstones of this approach.
Use AI When It Makes Sense – and Never as a Black Box
When we do use AI – whether for clustering traffic or using natural language processing (NLP) to determine categories of interest, it’s never a black box. For example, our Visitor Engagement Score clearly lists the criteria for determining levels of engagement, and any NLP happening is paired with you actually selecting which interests to choose from.
Complement Tools With People
“Gartner Predicts 80% of Marketers Will Abandon Personalization Efforts by 2025”
A lot of folks think tools are magic, especially amateurs. Personalization tools allow for targeting, but they don’t replace understanding the people. A human needs to do the hard work still.
— Pe:p Laja (@peeplaja) 9 décembre 2019
Peep said it nicely, and he’s of course 100% correct – a tool won’t do anything on its own.
People need to intelligently harness those tools to lead to meaningful outcomes. Or, as Jessica Crowter-Jones from Havas Media Group explains in our latest ebook, “What we’re feeding into the algorithm still requires us to understand the CRO basics of the site. Rubbish in, rubbish out is applicable to every type of analysis out there and personalization can be misused as easily as it can be used.”
We embrace this by avoiding the black box trap, but also by offering localized support in the form of dedicated Customer Success Manager teams that know our clients’ industries inside and out. Indeed, at AB Tasty, we’ve been using AI to optimize user experiences and the entire customer journey. However, the best uses of our platform will always rely on the inimitable inputs of human creativity and instinct.