There are times when you want to implement important — make that vital — changes across your website to improve the user experience and drive higher conversions. But these all-important decisions are too complex to simply rely on your gut. That’s where A/B testing and personalization come into play.
Through informed experimentation, you can gather specific quantitative data to help prove hypotheses, meet a specific objective, or statistically show how smaller-scale changes can predict the success of a larger rollout across a website. But more than anything, A/B testing helps you make informed, strategic business decisions, and in turn, achieve more profitable results for your business.
If you missed our webinar, The ABCs of A/B Testing and Personalization, or just want a refresher, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Read on for some of the panel’s insights on the importance of A/B testing and personalization.
What is personalization?
Personalization, also known as one-to-one marketing or individual marketing, is a strategy that leverages data analysis and marketing technology to deliver individualized messages and product offerings to current or prospective customers. Customer personalization refers to the act of leveraging audience “triggers” to optimize the content, and it involves not just the offering itself, but also the timing of its delivery and the design of every user experience. Data-based and dynamic, personalization is built on the information you gather, adapting in real-time based on behavior and attributes. When done right, it’s seamless and unified across channels. All the while, it makes every customer’s experience feel unique, given the right content is delivered at the right time. This makes the interactions and delivery feel tailored at the individual level. At the end of the day, personalization shows users you see them as individuals. It also helps them realize that you, as a brand, understand them by serving content that is relevant to their interests and/or preferences. In short, customer personalization is a journey that demands investment, including time, energy, and resources, but can yield great results.
What are the fundamentals of personalization?
Simply put, personalization is a constant, ever-evolving journey of learning, testing and prioritization – and it all begins with data. In order for personalization to succeed, it’s essential to centralize data across all of your marketing channels. That includes not just declared data, but also what has been gathered via your CRM, call center, etc. Also, not to be overlooked is the value of third-party data from social, clickstream, and paid media. This data is used to constantly, and automatically update what’s served to your customer, and to ensure it reflects the current status of your brand-consumer relationship. Throughout the customer journey, you need to listen to customer signals and respond in kind.
How can you ensure your personalization efforts are successful?
In order for personalization to have the desired effect, it’s important to take an agile approach to your marketing strategy. Breaking down team silos is a must. This means developing cross-functional teams across marketing, operations, tech, and sales. And since personalization relies heavily on scale and speed – you should be able to launch campaigns, cohesively, in just a matter of days.
Additionally, you’ll need to evaluate — and likely update —your technological capabilities. It may be time to enlist a MarTech expert, with the skills, channel expertise, and technological know-how to deliver your strategy and objectives at scale.
By integrating customer data to create a clear, unified view of your customers, you’re able to make decisions based on customer signals and effectively distribute campaigns across audiences and channels. For example, without an integration with your CRM to a Data Management Platform (DMP) or a Customer Data Platform (CDP), you might end up targeting customers with messaging that is entirely inappropriate to what they just experienced yesterday, be it a customer service issue or a cancelation. By integrating all of the data, you can appropriately target content that a customer is interested in and ensure the timing is appropriate as well.
How can you begin to personalize at scale?
In order to lay the foundation for personalization, here are some key steps to consider:
Create actionable audience segments
Prioritize your marketing channels
Identify your data sources
Consider data enrichment options
It goes without saying, starting this journey can feel overwhelming at first. But it’s important to remember that personalization can start small and grow to use a robust system architecture of multiple platforms. Like most complex initiatives or projects, we recommend taking a walk, crawl, run approach.
In terms of technology, you need access to customer data — especially behavioral data — so that you can deliver a personalized experience. Customer profiles allow platforms to have a more personal conversation, one that incorporates things like the customer’s first name, state, country, etc. Google Analytics is a great place to start. You can gather inputs for personalization using tag management, which can include endless possibilities such as, setting cookies for content views and actions, content interaction scoring via cookies, campaign ValueTrack parameters, basic poll, or user segment self-selection ("I am a…."), and so on.
Finally, it’s important to note that mature, scalable personalization involves dynamic segments and content, as well as fewer static rules and conditions.
Want to track the scale and progression of your own personalization program? Download Red Door’s Optimization Program Scorecard.
What role does content play in terms of personalization?
It’s important to know the right content and copy to use — and to deliver it to the right customer, at the right time. You can validate content alignment with your audience through qualitative means. But keep in mind, it’s not all about relying on technology — you often need a creative team in place, complete with copywriters — to produce content for personalization.
Why are segmentation, qualitative and quantitative analyses so important to personalization?
An audience segmentation analysis is an important tool that involves an advanced analysis of user segments in web data, identifying shared actions and personas, affinity groups, conversion propensity, and other factors. This analysis is integral to a successful personalization strategy, allowing you to achieve an advanced analysis of user segments, while also helping you identify the top tasks for each segment.
Meanwhile, qualitative and quantitative analyses involve identifying how different user segments use your website, where they experience friction and fall out of the funnel, the device types they used, and other subsegments of “converting” and “non-converting” sessions and paths used to inform the audiences and personalized experiences that will drive improved conversion rates for your website and acquisition efforts.
Why is creating a personalization roadmap so important?
A testing roadmap is a comprehensive summary of proposed, personalized experiences. It’s meant to be incorporated into the overall testing strategy and on-site experience. At the end of the day, targeting users with content that’s relevant to their interests is a proven method for increasing engagement, lifting conversion rates, and building loyalty. Planning for personalized experiences within a testing roadmap will ensure a more cohesive and integrated approach. It also gives you a single source of truth to ensure you’re on the right track — every step of the way.
Want to watch this webinar event in its entirety? Stream a recorded version on-demand here. Have additional questions about getting started with personalization and A/B testing? Feel free to reach out to us — we'd love to chat.
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The ABCs of A/B Testing & Personalization: Optimization Program Scorecard