Conversion.com's first independent event: What framework for personalization?

Jeremy Lobo

Recently, we hosted our first ever independent event (we know, big deal!) and we chose to kick things off with one of the most en vogue topics of the moment in CRO – personalization.

Led by Kyle Hearnshaw, Head of Conversion Strategy, (…and personalization expert) and Stephen Pavlovich, our CEO, the event was held in a roundtable format. We wanted to engage with other practitioners from the industry and discuss five key themes:

  1. Cutting through the noise: Debunking personalization myths
  2. What does personalization mean to your business?
  3. Where do conversion optimization, experimentation and personalization meet?
  4. Is website personalization right for your business? How can you tell?
  5. A framework for personalization strategy

What’s up with personalization?

With personalization said to be just around the corner since at least 2014, we saw a good opportunity to get a real sense of what stage some leading organizations are at with personalization, as well as what it means to the business.

We were not surprised to see that most of the companies present at the event were only just getting started with personalization, whilst some had it on that radar but were yet to begin. But, it was clear however that no organization could claim to be well underway with their personalization program.

These initial discussions satisfied our prognosis that everyone thinks that others are doing personalization, but in reality very few companies are because of the expectation and complexity it poses.

So, how do you do it?

At Conversion.com, we created a four step framework to enable any company to use personalization within experimentation.

1. Define goals and KPIs

“Why should we run this personalization campaign?” The paramount question you should be asking yourselves. The first step you should take when considering personalization is to define the goals and KPIs that will be used to measure success. An example of a goal could be to increase repeat customer revenue and our main KPIs would be conversion rate and average order value (AOV).

2. Evaluate capability 

The second step is to evaluate capability around our goals and KPIs. We aim to confirm whether it is possible to act on these and how we can do it.

You might wonder why this isn’t the first step of the framework? The reason is, evaluating capability can be a big, time-consuming task. If you don’t have a clear objective in mind to evaluate your capabilities against, you could end up spending a lot of time looking for capabilities that aren’t actually needed. Defining the goals and KPIs keeps us focused on answering whether we have the right data required to target specific users and if so, is this data accessible on the site for us to use in testing?

First set the goals you would like to achieve and evaluate if it’s possible and how. Don’t decide on what is possible first, and then shoehorn in a goal that fits.

3. Identify and prioritize audiences

The third step is the big one, this is where you identify and prioritize your audiences or audience groups for your personalization project.

How do you know who you should target? Well, what matters here most, is that your audience is meaningful.

A meaningful audience is one that is identifiable, impactful and shows distinct behavior. This means that each audience needs a clear profile that defines how a user in that group is identified and targeted. Audiences need enough volume and value to be worth the effort and users should behave differently enough to merit a personalized experience.

4. Experiment 

This is the last step! Now that we have our audiences defined, each audience can be treated as a conversion optimization project where we would be looking to understand the key conversion levers that influence our audiences behavior, and then experiment on it.

Realistically, each organization will have more than one goal and KPI. We gathered from our event that it wasn’t only the number of orders and amount of revenue that were potential metrics for personalization projects, but the number of customers that visit the store, or the number of driver downloads on your support site could also be worthwhile.

What should you do next? 

Now that we have a process tailored to personalization, we can all start straight away, right?

Well, this depends on your organization’s maturity model in experimentation and conversion optimization. Personalisation requires a deep understanding of your users, more so than A/B testing and should only be approached if you have already reached the highest levels of experimentation maturity.

If you are just getting started with experimentation, we would recommend you first focus on gaining insights on your users and maximise the gains you can have from general experimentation and conversion rate optimization. Personalisation is a long-term investment. So, if your organization isn’t ready today, positioning yourself on the maturity model will help you to plan the steps you need to take to get there.

If your company lives and breathes experimentation, and you are considering optimizing conversion further by increasing the relevance of customer experiences through personalization, it is crucial that you take the time to integrate it in your wider digital strategy. Get support from the business, as it is likely that you will meet similar challenges to the ones that we have heard from clients that are already doing personalization: lack of resources, difficulty in proving the value of personalization and internal political issues (e.g. crossover between departments and markets).

Overall, we are extremely proud to have organised our first independent event and glad to know that everyone who attended the event left learning something new and, we are convinced, with plenty of ideas to take back to the office.

Looking to develop your approach to personalization? If you have a question about how we can help you, then please do get in touch with hello@conversion.com

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