Preparing for the inevitable: Personalization

In this blog, I'll be addressing the topic of personalization: what it could mean for your online business, and how it can be incorporated into your business strategy painlessly with the right technology and a game plan in place.

I will note that this article from Boston Consulting Group has inspired my post.  Their insights are based on industry research and a survey conducted with over 50 companies.

To start off, I want to share the line that resonated most with me from this article, “slow movers will lose customers, share, and profits."  So what is stopping everyone from exploring personalization?

In many consumer categories, high-value customers make up 70% of revenue - we've observed at Qubit as much as 30% of eComm revenue can be driven by less than 0.03% of visitors. So why wouldn’t every company with this opportunity want to use personalization to  retain and grow their most valuable customer segments?

For most businesses with a hundred and one different competing priorities, it’s a matter of time and resources to commit to it.  As a software solution built to solve this business challenge, our biggest competitor is companies that decide to do nothing.  But if digital has taught us anything, investment in great customer experience has been both the making and the downfall of many companies. So let’s go over what it takes to put the wheels in motion for such a critical initiative.

First, I’d recommend asking yourself questions specific to your customers and how they are browsing/buying today:

  • Where are there delays and distractions within and across buying channels?
  • Are there unmet needs and unanswered questions that customers face while browsing your products?
  • How can your customers be engaged with to feel more important?  What would this empowerment look like?  

Personalization is a business strategy meant to improve the customer experience, not “a series of fancy tech tricks” (BCG), and so this type of analysis should come first as it would with any strategic business move.  It should be a fun exercise putting yourself in your customer’s shoes to answer these questions.

Recognizing what data is needed to validate answers and influence change is the next step.  For a lot of businesses, a primary source in understanding customer value may be CRM data.  The problem is, as this article states, it tends to be siloed from other important data collected, like that from data layers, ESPs, POS.  “More than half of the companies surveyed believe that they collect the data they need but, ‘integrating and using it—that’s the hard part.’”    

In order to deliver effective personalization, drive loyalty, and retain market share, all customer data should be compiled and standardized in a single place, one cloud for all departments to feed and tap into for a “360-view” of customer.  Having a unified data infrastructure like this, then having it directly linked to audience segmentation and personalization interfaces, is the real goal and Qubit’s primary value prop - allowing for optimal accuracy, speed, and relevancy in delivering meaningful experiences.  

So we’ve discussed data management, listed by BCG as a necessity to a successful personalization strategy, but the topic of plug-ins and integrations needs to be addressed as well given the number of techs out there today.  A personalization solution should be able to easily integrate with other techs...but beware of the vendor promising the world with a “the single line of javascript!”

In a platform like Qubit, the flexible data infrastructure aforementioned is also the piece of us that allows for integrations with other solutions.  Able to ingest and distribute data from and to numerous sources allows us to “play nicely” with hundreds of technologies in market, amplifying their capabilities (making data more actionable or something like product recommendations more targeted) and at times, ours as well.  It’s a two way street!

The last lookout to implementing personalization is the willingness to create new ways of working (if not done already).  Back to point number one, personalization is about improving the entire customer experience, so teams should therefore be structured around the customer rather than mirroring the silos of marketing techs and initiatives?  If all departments will be feeding into and taking from the same platform anyways, they should be forced to maximize use of each other’s channels and contribute to each other’s KPIs.  This is a good thing!

In sum, these are the areas that should be thought about when beginning your personalization discovery.  If you hope to maintain/increase “customers, share, and profits” in this economy of alternative solutions at the consumer’s fingertips, then this is inevitable and we urge you to get on board!  Contact Qubit to learn a bit more, or, join us and other eComm execs at the San Fran Breakfast on Thursday (6/1) for a discussion on personalization.