Pillar 1: User
When it comes to users, Sawyer reminds us, the important thing here is to not only define our target audience for our business in general but drilling down to understanding who the subset of users is that we’ll be able to deliver a personalized experience to-in essence, defining specifically who we want to reach and what we want them to do.
Sawyer cautions here that taking a one-size-fits-all approach and trying to optimize it to best fit groups of users is no substitute for the good, old-fashioned thing known as empathy. After all, he said, “Personalization is about delivering the most relevant experience in each person. Empathy is about understanding what the individual is feeling or he or she is experiencing and what his or her needs are. So to truly deliver personalized experiences and to deliver those experiences at each step of the user’s journey, you must arrive at an understanding of those users.”
Pillar 2: Content
Personalization needs content – and lots of it. It’s important you get your SEO and taxonomy right (not only for the subject matter but for the users) so that your content can be interpreted and delivered by machine solutions. Be empathetic to your users and understand the type of content that will best resonate with them and will suit their needs.
Pillar 3: Staffing
Personalization is inherently multidisciplinary, often pulling in people with radically different skill sets. “One of the key pieces of establishing a personalization strategy is mapping out how you will be able to hold these and all the related decisions together to make a creative process,” Sawyer said.
Pillar 4: Tech Stack
Although the phrase “tech stack” will call to mind different things for different marketers, according to Sawyer, your personalization tech stack should provide these fundamental capabilities:
- The ability to maintaining unified customer profiles that track visitors from anonymous to known.
- The ability to track custom interactions that those visitors were having onsite and then to persist those interaction data points into the same UCPs over time.
- The capability to connect UCPs to other sources of customer data such as the customer data warehouse or other systems.
- Analytics and reporting capabilities.
Pillar 5: Experimentation
Sawyer suggests taking an evidence-based approach to personalization, which encompasses not only data but also offline information, research, user interviews and other qualitative info to develop a holistic picture of the user.
“We want to find the kind of art rather than science, the right level of personalization. The name of the game is to monitor, evaluate and adjust as necessary, and that’s why this is experimental,” Sawyer said.
An Empathetic (and Effective) Approach
With all of the tech and data surrounding marketers every day, it’s easy to forget that there’s a living, breathing human being on the other side of that screen – and that human’s emotions are going to have a huge influence on how they engage with your business and whether they make a purchase.
As Sawyer told the audience at Engage, ensure you create and maintain compelling content that’s crafted to resonate with those users, and invest in the staff and tech that facilitate those conversations. And remember that you need to test and iterate; you won’t be able to just deploy a personalization capability and be done.
By embracing the idea that personalization is inherently experimental, iterative and evidence-based and being willing to learn from your mistakes, you’ll be well on your way toward creating more meaningful relationships and realizing better results from your efforts.