5 key technology pre-requisites to deliver advanced personalization

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By Gaurav Mishra Jan 15, 2019

As per one of the reports, 51% of marketers say that personalization has been their topmost priority. In fact, those marketers who have personalized the customers’ web experiences have observed a 19% uplift in sales.

On the other hand, there are many marketers who will abandon personalization efforts by 2025, as per Gartner.

What is getting in the way?

Using the right technology and data handling are among the top two challenges that enterprises deal with when trying to deliver effective personalization, as per this Salesforce report.

Given this, here are some of the significant aspects that you can consider when delivering personalized services to your customers.

Data Structuring

Effective personalization depends on the quality of data and the way it is structured to serve personalization requests. The data available across your site & digital channels can be overwhelming for you. Therefore, it is essential to break it down and save it at a granular level. Each concise content snippet/granule should correspond to a particular personalization parameter.

It is because of the unique combination of different parameters for each individual. Without granular content, you can not serve the personalized content that they want.

Data Storage and Retrieval

With a massive amount of data to be parsed and processed, how fast can you deliver a personalized experience to the user? You might have created the most carefully curated experience for your customers, but it never reaches them if your systems, especially frontend rendering of the data, are not fast enough.

Given these challenges, businesses need to build technology competencies around enterprise search engines like Elasticsearch and Solr. These will be critical in terms of making high-performance digital applications with quick response times. These search engines work well with large volumes of text to quickly pull all necessary data required for personalization from the server-side while keeping the client-side extremely lightweight.

Setting Up Personalization

42% of consumers feel annoyed when content is not personalized - CMO by Adobe

The core tenet for personalization is “giving your user their next step, based on their previous steps”. While that sounds simple enough, how a personalization workflow is created could range from simple and straightforward to quite complex. Essentially, there are two ways to set up a personalized experience for any user:

Rules based

It is a simple, “if/this - then that” logic applied to user actions to create personalization workflows. The rules are explicitly stated and are simple to execute for your systems. Rules-based personalization is an ideal first step for businesses. It is based on the critical user-behavior parameters like location, age, previous pages visited on the website, etc.

However, the challenge with this approach is that you have to manually cover every single personalization scenario possible. When you are just starting with it and probably have access to only a small range of data points, mapping out all personalization opportunities is not a colossal task. But as your user base climbs, and the number of data increases, rules-based personalization will begin to fall behind your requirements.

AI-Based

As per one of the reports by Gartner, 63% of digital marketing leaders still struggle with personalization, while only 17% use AI & machine learning across the function.

It is where complex machine learning (ML) models come into play, parsing through volumes of collected heuristic data to find relevant user patterns and connections. Text and image classification, neural networks, and natural language processing combine to create highly contextual and personalized experiences. These models continuously learn and hence can personalize as user behaviors change.
However, most enterprises could not implement AI-based personalization due to the lack of adequate and accurate training data for the machine learning models.

Tagging

Adding the correct tags against users and content pieces is a way to make them easily identifiable, and hence, incorporate them into the appropriate personalization workflow.

Content Tagging

Content tagging is one of the simplest and also most comprehensive methods to prepare your existing content for personalization. Each piece of content when tagged correctly, with all the relevant parameters, gets served across the right personalization workflows. The objective of tagging is to let your systems know which content pieces to align to particular personalization parameters.

Progressive Tagging

Businesses should also progressively tag users to create a comprehensive profile. Every time a user visits your site and performs various actions, it allows you to gain more insights into their behavior. So, depending on their multiple actions on the website, marketers can add relevant tags to their profiles.

Conversational Interfaces

Chatbots are one of the most widely adopted methods to deliver personalized experiences today. But a key question to answer before diving into development is the kind of chatbot you wish to create. The choice is between restrictive and language-based chatbots.

Restrictive Chatbots

A simple conversation interface is where you type in a query and receive an answer, but the interaction is restrictive in context to what you can ask the bot. In this case, complete interaction trees are defined for the chatbot, and the user cannot deviate from that. These chatbots get the job done efficiently and are focused on task completion.

Language-based Chatbots

These interfaces are powered by Natural Language Processing and hence can handle a wide range of conversational diversity. The responses are determined by the bots' understanding of the users' questions and context rather than a predefined interaction tree. So you don’t have to manually define every conversation scenario for the chatbot to effectively assist your customers.

Earlier, when there were no smart devices like Amazon Echo, Google Dot, or any other, the companies used to collect customer data based on their feedback, surveys, and complaints to understand their exact preferences.

However, with the advent of IoT devices, enterprises can now collect real-time data about their customers and engage with them vigorously. The integration of IoT devices enables companies to analyze and accumulate data for meeting their customers’ unspoken needs.

IoT gives marketers opportunities to look beyond CRM data for personalization & instead benefit from the worldwide network of billions of connected devices for overall enhanced customer experiences.

CDP

With CDPs gaining traction lately, big players have already started leveraging it to bring disconnected profiles and interactions together & get a better understanding of their customers' core behaviors, interests, needs, and preferences across every channel and every device. It facilitates them to deliver the kind of experience they want to receive at the right time and right place.

So, if you want consumers to move from top to bottom in the marketing and sales funnel, ensure that you are using the right tools for delivering positive experiences wherever they are in the journey- from evaluation and purchase to fulfillment and support.

How to Get Started with Personalization?

Personalization is an ongoing process where companies can constantly evolve from one stage to the next. Here are some viable points to take into consideration before starting on your personalization journey-

  • Channel selection- You can start with one channel and gradually add more when you are aware of the personalization capabilities of others.
  • Business goals- Take one objective across a single channel, for example, increase cross-sell possibilities on that channel. It will simplify your task of evaluating the results, and metrics will be easier to gauge.
    Later on, you can add more goals like migration, growth, conversion, retention, and loyalty.
  • Derive actionable insights- When you use a single channel, you can easily derive insights from it and share them across the organization. If you feel confident that insights & ROI metrics are being met, you can move on to take charge of more complex issues.
  • Use the power of Analytics - Keeping a tab on analytics & numbers will help you drive actionable insights. You can figure out why and where cart abandonment or bounce rates are increasing and the measures you can take to reduce such possibilities. The power of optimization, forecasting, and modeling will empower you to leverage information and enhance your personalization initiatives.

Bottom Line

With many organizations experimenting with personalization today, its potential has just begun to be tapped. A well-strategized personalization strategy wherein you use existing technology in conjunction with AI & ML tools can drive greater relevance in marketing engagement & increasing influence over customer behavior.

Delivering an exceptional digital customer experience that appeals, engages, and retains customers are of the highest importance. Srijan helps its clients include advanced analytics strategy & smart personalization techniques as a part of their digital strategy, to deliver a CX that delights their customers.

Ready to get started with personalization? Connect with us.

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