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Understanding the Five Pillars of Radical Personalization

by Karl Wirth  |  
July 2, 2013

After the last U.S. election, a friend of mine told me about her experience on Obamaís email list. She was barraged with multiple emails each day, and each email made a more specific ask. She thought it was odd that she didnít get annoyed by the tidal wave of email produced by the army of staffers typing away on keyboards. She was actually impressed.

The one email that really caught her eye mentioned that they knew she had volunteered, but that she hadnít donated yet. The email note asked for a simple and small donation---she happily obliged.

Obamaís team knew a lot about the people on (and even off) its email list. Theyíre not alone. For example, I have made a last minute add-on to an order I was placing with Amazon. ďYes, Iíll buy that leather lighted Kindle cover!Ē

Amazon knows a lot about you, too. It uses this information and data to make suggestions and to increase the average purchase the site processes.

Obamaís emails and Amazonís suggestions are two examples of how innovative marketing campaigns are embracing radical personalization.

Radical personalization is an extremely customer-focused approach to marketing. It takes all the data and knowledge your business has gained about your customers and uses that to make personalized pitches and to display the most relevant content.†It is the purest way to put each individual customer at the center of your marketing plan.

Embracing radical personalization and putting individuals at the center of your marketing efforts is important because it can dramatically improve your conversion rate and increase the number of new, paying customers your business has.

The first thing you need to do is cut through the data smog and make sure youíre measuring the right information.

1. Identify and Measure the Right Information

One of the biggest challenges youíll face when attempting to harness the data you need to enable radical personalization is information paralysis.

The first step in offering a radically personalized experience for your customer is to start filtering through the data. Separate the wheat from the chaff.

The second step is realizing that while traditional metrics that aggregate information across many users and segments are useful if you want to paint a generate picture, they arenít what youíre going to use to offer a customized user experience. Doing that involves something else.

You need to move beyond measuring performance indicators and data mining. Instead, you need to focus on tracking behavior at the individual level, and using segmentation to formulate strong hypotheses. Essentially, this is a move back to business basics: You must come to know each individual customer who interacts with your business.

This type of analytics is referred to as behavioral analytics. Behavioral analytics lets companies collect and analyze such information as keyword searches, clicks, and navigation patterns to...

  • Determine how customers move around your site.

  • What interests them and whatís the next step in the conversation.

2. Offer Real-Time Personalization

You can personalize email as mentioned above, but the most interesting place for personalization is in real time, in context, right in the digital interaction with a customer.

For every business that interacts with customers online, regardless of its function or market, offering a radically personalized experience is both possible and essential. What if you were able to ...

  • Offer a customized upsell to someone nearing your websiteís checkout?

  • Customize lead generation forms with the most relevant information for someone visiting your website?

  • Customize landing pages to ensure AdWords revenue was spent as effectively as possible?

  • Help your customers take full advantage of the features your software or app offers by letting them know about functions they havenít used or tried yet?

While such real-time personalization was once out of reach for many businesses, it is now a real possibility for any business. If it's used well, it will result in more revenue per sale, more leads, and higher conversion rates.

The benefits of adapting to behavioral analytics are not lost on analytics guru and founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit Jim Sterne. Sterne describes the benefits of offering customized content and offers.
ďWe can attract prospects with customized campaigns according to their interests, engage site visitors with dynamic content in response to their conduct and desires, and put the right message in front of the right person at the right time. We can create a more pleasant and more individual buying experience. We can quickly identify the offers that will more likely convert those prospects to buyers.Ē

3. Make Adjustments Using New Information

Having access to this kind of information isnít just about offering a personalized web experience.†It can change and improve everything, not just your web experience. In addition to your website, radical personalization can help your business in two important ways.

Empower salespeople. Customer relationship management becomes easier as you learn and track consumer behavior. Learning from Web behavior will translate into real-world benefits for your customers as they interact with your staff.

Improves product offerings. Tracking behavioral analytics means you will know how people interact with your product or products, and it will give you a better understanding of what they are willing to pay for your product.

If you let it, radical personalization will improve not only what you offer to customers, but also how you offer it and how you operate.

4. Help Manage ĎRadicalí Organizational Change

Radical personalization is a new and potentially intimidating approach to marketing, which means some businesses remain hesitant to embrace it. The good news is, you can take steps to get ahead of your competition by acknowledging its plentiful benefits.

When you are getting ready to implement a radically personalized approach to marketing, consider the following.

Donít wait too long to change.

Changing your behavior or that of your company is an act of empowerment. Rather than act to empower ourselves or our companies, it can be too easy to just wait it out. As you wait, excuses build and more barriers to change are created. Instead of waiting and finding excuses, empower yourself and your company to act. Start with some smaller items like paying closer attention to social media metrics or testing landing pages.

Focus on one thing at a time.

If you are pursuing a change agenda littered with 10 or 20 items, itís probably not the best time to radically shift your organizationís focus. In fact, if thatís what your to-do list looks like, youíll probably fail.

5. Find New Business Models

So far Iíve talked about micro level changes and factors---pricing, CRM, content, and offers. We canít forget about the macro level: your overall business model.

The information you gather that drives radical personalization could lead to a radical evolution in your business model by changing one or more elements of your operation.

  • Partners. If your consumers are looking for something you donít want to or canít produce, you can find a new partner. If your customersí preferences point to one type of product over another, you can double-down on one or two major suppliers.

  • Activities. You will be able to focus more on the most profitable activities, distribution channels, and customer relationships. You might find a new customer type or even a new revenue stream.

  • Value proposition. You will be able to customize consumer offerings, more accurately predict consumer problems that need to be solved, and find new product bundles to offer to customers.

  • Channels. You will learn the best channels to reach your customers---how you can best raise awareness, help people evaluate your company and brand, and find the optimal path to purchasing your product.

  • Costs. Data-driven radical personalization will help you focus on cost control by identifying the costs associated with activities that are most important to your users.

  • Revenue streams. Learning more about your customers and your business will help identify new revenue streams. Maybe people would prefer to make monthly payments for your software, perhaps you can change your fee structure, or, more radically, maybe you can treat the data you collect and knowledge you gain as a marketable asset.

Each of these changes individually makes life better for your company and your customer. As these changes multiply in number, you are changing the nature of your organization; you are developing a new business model.

Radical personalization places your customer at the heart of your organization in a new and exciting way. Such a shift will change the way you do business, yet itís up to you to grasp the opportunities and promises radical personalization presents.

Radically Personalize This Post

Iíd like you to indulge me: What have I missed? What do you find most interesting and exciting about radical personalization? Do you actually find it exciting? If not, why?

Better still---if you could add any section to this post, what would it be?

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Karl Wirth is the CEO and a co-founder of Evergage, a customer intelligence and marketing automation solution that enables online businesses to understand each customer and respond in real time.

Twitter: @wirthkarl

LinkedIn: Karl Wirth

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  • by Warren Whitlock Wed Jul 3, 2013 via blog

    The technologies and ideas you share here are fantastic. Every company should be looking to greatly increase the amount of personalization in every way.

    We need to think about personalizing relationships and the user experience. The trend continues to move from mass-market to niche market, to smaller niche markets and inevitably markets of individuals.

    The quick way to do this is to individualize the experience. Social media and other tools allow us to add this personal touch and track the relationship with each prospect and customer.

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