6 Steps to Delivering an Effective Personalisation Strategy
For businesses today, personalising your visitors' experience online is nothing less than a digital imperative.
However, when it comes to delivering personalised experiences, most businesses are at a loss as where to even start.
In a recent blog post we covered what is web personalisation. To recap quickly, website personalisation allows you to deliver customised experiences to users on your site, tailored to their needs and desires.
Sounds simple enough, right? So why are many organisations still struggling to deliver that essential personalised customer experience?
While there might be an increase in the availability of personalisation tools and data analysis software in recent years, if you fail to put the correct strategy in place, even the best tools will fail to deliver the promised results.
Here are our 6 key steps to building a successful personalisation strategy:
1. Understand the business objectives
Before commencing on any personalisation project, it’s important to identify your goals.
- What is it you want to achieve?
- How will you know if your personalisation strategy has been effective?
- Are you looking to:
- Increase leads?
- Create greater brand loyalty?
- Reduce product returns?
- Improve conversion rates?
Whatever it is, you need to set clearly defined achievable targets, and demonstrate that personalisation will help you achieve them.
We recommend setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based.
2. Make personalisation a strategic objective
It is imperative that any personalisation initiative has the backing of the entire organisation. Nearly every part of an organisation can benefit from personalisation, not just marketing and sales, but also customer service and support. Therefore it is important that each part of the organisation is an active participant in the personalisation process, sharing data, setting goals and reporting on progress.
You will need to establish a cross-organisational team and, essentially, it will need backing from the right senior stakeholders and management for it to succeed. With 67% of companies reporting resources for personalisation are limited or not available due to lack of time or budget, it is important that your team is comprised of the necessary skilled and dedicated resources who can manage and continually optimise your personalisation campaigns.
3. Data, data, data
Once you know your goals and have the team to achieve them, now you need data. Customer data is the very foundation of personalisation and is an important step in the strategy-building process. Without sufficiently detailed data on your users, you will not be able to implement effective personalisation.
You will need to identify all of your existing data sources, along with the types of information you are capturing. It will most likely be a combination of static offline data from CRM systems or order systems, and real-time session or behavioural data. For example, you may have geolocation data, keyword referral data, device information, time of day, purchase history, email campaign data, customer account data, referral information, site search keywords, ... the list goes on.
However, data integrity is also hugely important. Creating a personalised campaign based on incorrect data can seriously backfire. Take for example Shutterfly, a photo-printing company, which sent out a number of personalised emails in which they congratulated their customers for babies they did not have. Many women struggling with infertility and miscarriage received the emails, which resulted in an intense social media storm, alienated customers, and ended up with the company having to issue an apology.
In addition, data transparency is a big focus for consumers and is vital for building trust amongst your users. A recent report by Tableau shows 48% of consumers have stopped buying from a company over privacy concerns. Organisations must have clear and accurate data policies, including who has access to their data and how it will be used, and must be committed to strict data protection practices.
4. Know your audience
When crafting personalised experiences, it’s vitally important to know who your users are. You will most likely already have defined a number of personas for the different types of users visiting your website. However, these can be further enhanced by bringing together your static and real-time data.
This will allow you to better understand your users in the context of their current behaviour on the website. It allows for the creation of effective audience segments and further deeper analysis of your customer behaviours. This will enable you to further optimise and refine the personalised experiences you create.
For organisations that are starting out with personalisation, we recommend you create some simple audience segments first. For example, slightly broader segments focusing on device used, or geographic location, or maybe those who clicked a link in a particular email marketing campaign. Analyse the behaviour of users in these segments on your site, and from there you can better understand your customers, and continue to refine and narrow your segmentation further.
There are many tools available to aid you with this. One of our favourites is Acquia Personalisation which can help automate your data collection and real-time segmentation processes, while also delivering personalised website content and custom hyper-targeted omnichannel personalised experiences.
5. Create the right content and personalise
After gathering and analysing data about your audience, it's now time to put your personalisation strategy into practice. You should by now understand your users and their needs, and know the type of information and content they are looking for. To succeed with your personalisation strategy, you will need to deliver the right content to your users.
For many people, content creation feels like the biggest barrier to implementing personalisation. In reality, it is less about content creation and more about content strategy.
To start, you should do a content audit of your existing content and identify which user personas each of your articles would relate to. We'd recommend tagging and classifying your content, not only by topic, but also by persona, industry and other relevant groupings. This will pay dividends later when crafting personalisation campaigns.
After completing the content audit, you will have a much clearer picture of the content you have and that which you can start personalising with right now. It will also identify potential content gaps that need to be filled.
It is worthwhile noting that you don't need vast swathes of content in order to start implementing personalisation. You can start small. For example, you can begin by tweaking call-to-action text, or changing the image and messaging in the hero area on the home page, or perhaps displaying a different featured product.
Also, consider where on the page you display the personalised content. Maybe the user never scrolls down the page to see your personalised product recommendations, or maybe there's another page on the site which receives more traffic. This is where reviewing your website performance analytics and heat maps can help guide you in determining where best to personalise the content.
6. Continual optimisation
Like all things in marketing, testing and continual optimisation of your personalisation campaigns are vital. It is important to understand that in order to deliver effective personalisation, you need to manage it as a continual, strategic process and not just a once-off project.
Continually track and monitor how your campaigns are performing. Are they helping you to achieve your business objectives? If not, then try changing the messaging or placement of the content, or review what you understand about your audience segments. It is also worthwhile running split testing or A/B testing to see which variant(s) of a campaign perform better.
By continually improving and optimising your customers' experience, you can deliver an experience that truly resonates with them.
With 74% of customers feeling frustrated when website content is not personalised to them, it is clear that implementation of a successful personalisation strategy is key to improving your customer experience and increasing revenues.
As seen above, there are multiple factors in delivering an effective personalisation strategy, including solid data to draw insights on customer behaviour from, relevant content, clear business goals and objectives, and the team and tools to achieve them. With each of these in place you're ready to start delivering that personalised experience that customers expect today.
Need advice on your personalisation strategy?
If you are looking for a partner to take you to the next level on your personalisation journey, get in touch.
Stella Power Managing Director
As well as being the founder and managing director of Annertech, Stella is one of the best known Drupal contributors in the world.