5 tips for running a successful personalization program in 2021

Effective personalization strategies are what will separate the customer experience leaders from laggards in 2021 — and beyond.

Accenture research finds that 41 percent of consumers switched companies last year over a lack of trust and poor personalization, costing businesses $756 billion. And, according to recent research from Gartner, organizations that focus their personalized messaging around helping consumers can expect 16 percent more impact on commercial outcomes than those that do not

Personalization with the highest impact on consumers, chart of percentage of customers who consider help type important

So, what makes a successful personalization program? Below, we go through what we’ve identified as key components.

Tip #1: Embed your personalization practice within the marketing team

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

Henry Ford

It is critical to have the personalization practice be regarded as a key piece of the success of the marketing program and ecosystem. Begin by composing a project plan consisting of tests that can be accomplished with the current set of resources and technology stack. Using that test plan document, build relationships with key decision makers to get buy in. Starting with a few relationships with content owners on key areas of the site will allow your practice to earn a reputation. Using this approach, you will gain better alignment of your customer journey strategies and efficiently use resources to develop omnichannel programs. Furthermore, this could promote deeper access to design, UX, development, analytics, and QA resources — all key elements of a personalization program.

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Tip #2: IT and marketing cannot be frenemies — they must be partners

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it."

H.E. Luccock

To achieve more faster, marketing and IT need to work in concert. Marketers should tap into this group for creative and fresh ideas of how to use existing tools or build new solutions to achieve the needs of your customers, since IT builds and maintains the site and can also alert you on the boundaries of the architecture and what cannot be changed, yet. Collaborating on strategy and planning aligns common goals like creating seamless customer experiences, solution upgrades and could influence what ultimately is prioritized and entered into development cycles.

In a Forbes interview, Kelly Garcia, Domino’s SVP of e-commerce development and emerging technologies, said: “It was important from the start to promote a culture where the marketing and IT teams were collaborative and strategically aligned.”

Garcia detailed how critical it was during this time for members of the leadership team to be aligned as partners. “Some organizations fail because of friction at the top setting a rocky example for the rest of the company,” she said.

Futhermore, in a separate interview, Adobe’s CEO, Shantanu Narayen said, “Digital technology needs to be tailored to the right expectations. This requires constant dialogue between CMOs and CIOs about how to make the customer experience more relevant.”

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Tip #3: Become a data-driven testing program

“What gets measured, gets managed, gets done.”

Peter Drucker

Developing a common set of KPI’s and metrics to evaluate business objectives fosters easy interpretation of test results and incorporation into business decisions. Establish measurement KPIs that enable clear reporting for quantifying the impact of your program. Use the numbers to reveal the narrative and lead testing priority.

A recent article in CIO magazine makes a good point around data not being just for reports, but for making informed decisions. “At the heart of all this activity needs to be the objective of making better decisions,” the article says. “This requires data to be made available to everyone in the organization who needs it as well as the tools to analyze it.”

Partner with your analytics subject matter experts to identify key site sections and priorities that drive revenue as testing areas. Once your team decides on what to test be ready to act and implement those winnings. Take advantage of those insights while they are fresh and relevant. Share the results and be ready to revise your roadmap to incorporate the learnings. It is advisable to treat roadmaps as living documents that are refined as insights are earned through testing.

Read about Adobe’s data-driven operating model here.

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Tip #4: Establish a project plan and roadmap

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Antoine de Sant-Exupery

Create a project plan for outlining your charter, testing goals, strategy, people, processes, and technology. This is a helpful document to have prepared when hosting meetings to gain more influence, executive sponsorship, and cross-departmental support. Having a clear vision with steps on what your team seeks to accomplish will gain trust and confidence when building your program. Taking the time to create these documents upfront will help accelerate program growth because there is a blueprint.

Tip #5: Future-proof to avoid brain drain

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Organizations evolve and resource changes are inevitable. Program longevity relies heavily on its ability to adapt. Set a goal to have 2-3 resources that are familiar with each component of your program. This concept builds on the previous tip of establishing roles and responsibilities. We take it a step further; the purpose is not the tactical day to day operations. It is intentional future proofing.

Support resources don’t need to be leading workstreams, while that would help, but a colleague that knows the process or where to find the documents is valuable. Many organizations have been stifled because a single power user leaves and no one else in the organization knows where to step in. Designating a few resources familiar with processes, learnings, tools, and test lifecycle operations safeguard the program. Full time commitment is not required, even a few hours a week can have an impact.

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Happy testing! Don’t forget to have fun networking and learning together as group.