What Adobe Doesn’t Want You To Know About Real-Time Personalization

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Ideas and Strategies for Real-Time Personalization
What Adobe Doesn’t Want You To Know About Real-Time Personalization

March 28, 2017 by

According to Kristin Lemkau, CMO of JPMorgan Chase, “Achieving personalization at scale is the biggest and most important challenge for us to get right.” Her point is one that I think many marketers will agree with: these days, if marketers aren’t leveraging personalization, it’s not because they haven’t identified the business need for it. Instead, many marketers are struggling to execute a one-to-one strategy effectively, and at scale.

That’s because, realistically, a one-to-one marketing strategy is not easy to achieve. There are a lot of moving parts. From understanding each person, responding with something relevant across their full experience with your company across multiple touchpoints, analyzing metrics and results, and iterating and operating efficiently, there are many opportunities for something to go wrong.

Facing these personalization challenges, marketers can only be as powerful as their technology. Adobe is one of the biggest players in the personalization space, but it struggles to get all of those moving parts right. And if Adobe can’t get it right, the marketers who use Adobe for personalization aren’t able to deliver true one-to-one experiences. Recently, our CEO, Karl Wirth, and Sr. Manager of Product Marketing, T.J. Prebil, presented the webinar, What Adobe Doesn’t Want You to Know About Real-Time Personalization. I’ll recap a few takeaways in this blog post, but you should watch the full webinar replay for all the details.

Understand Each Person at the Individual Level

It goes without saying that in order to deliver a one-to-one experience to each person, you need to know each of them. The challenge is that Adobe’s personalization solution is a loosely integrated suite of many different pieces acquired over time. While Evergage’s Unified Customer Profile maintains individual records for each person, updated and actionable in real time, Adobe maintains many profiles for each person across each of its distinct solutions. Passing data between these solutions, particularly when the goal is to act on the data in real time, presents insurmountable challenges for Adobe customers.  

Just as important, the data that Adobe does store is shallow. Adobe tracks clicks on your site, so it will recognize when a visitor clicks on a product page, adds something to his cart and makes a purchase. But this data is flat, so all clicks are viewed as equally important. Evergage, on the other hand, factors in active time on page, on-page engagement (such as scrolling, hovering, etc.), and the context of the products or content viewed (such as category, brand, price range, keywords, etc.). This gives us a much clearer view of each person’s affinities and intent in the moment. For a detailed explanation of why deeper behavioral data and context are critical, read this blog post.

Respond with Relevance

For an experience to be relevant, it needs to be delivered in real time. For example, if I’m interested in ski vacations while I’m searching on a travel site today, it’s not guaranteed that I’ll still be interested in skiing the next time I visit the site. I may have already booked a ski trip (on your site or on another site), or I may have changed my mind about my future vacation plans. Waiting until the next time I visit to personalize my experience around skiing isn’t relevant.

But that’s exactly what marketers using Adobe’s solution have to deal with. Because Adobe’s data is stored across multiple profiles, there can be up to a 48-hour delay before new data can be acted upon.

For an experience to be truly “real-time,” every step from a visitor landing on your site, to processing her current and past behavior; to understanding her intent and then determining and presenting a personalized experience; to the moment the data about her experience becomes available for attribution analysis, all needs to happens in a fraction of a second. If you have to wait longer than that for any of those steps, then you don’t have a real-time experience. To learn more about the importance of real-time, read this blog post.  

Full Experience

Personalized experiences no longer need to be limited to a single section or two of your website. With machine-learning algorithms, you can personalize the entire site experience for each individual, as well as across channels.

There are two key differences between Adobe and Evergage here. First, the single profile I mentioned earlier comes in handy when personalizing across channels, because you have a single place to store behavioral data, no matter where the behavior occurred. So any action a visitor takes on mobile can be considered in delivering a personalized experience via email. Remember that Adobe maintains several customer profiles which make this very difficult.

Second, to create a fully personalized experience, Adobe tries to get you to purchase all of its products.

adobe for personalizationEvergage, however, recognizes that you have a lot of other martech tools that you are working with to create a single, cohesive experience for an individual. Evergage seamlessly integrates with your data providers and other marketing solutions (including Adobe!) so you don’t need to replace all your technology in an expensive and time-consuming integration process.

adobe for personalization

Final Thoughts

If you’re considering an investment in Adobe’s suite of personalization products, I strongly recommend that you take a few minutes to review the webinar replay. It’s always important to have a good understanding of a solution’s limitations before coming to a decision (and there’s a lot more that I didn’t cover in this post!).

You should also check out our detailed blog post, “Sorry Adobe, Marketers Do Need to Pay Attention to What Is Behind the Curtain” and request a demo of Evergage to see everything we described for yourself.

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