You’ve heard it at countless conferences: personalization is the next big frontier in online marketing. Seventy-seven percent of marketers say real-time personalization is crucial to growing their online business. So the question becomes, how do you make personalization a reality for your business without blowing up your budget like the Death Star?

The exciting thing is, there are now affordable solutions that make personalization a tangible revenue producing reality, rather than an abstract concept touted at every conference. But after you decide to buy personalization software, where do you begin? As with any new technology, it will only be as effective as the people using it. How do you train your brain to think like a personalization ninja?

Mastering personalization opens the door to accomplish almost anything related to your on-site experience. Take a minute and just think of what your team will accomplish without needing the IT team to hard code every site change…ahhh it feels better than Friday afternoon (almost). Countless hours of development work can be avoided, while at the same time your marketing team is empowered to drive conversions. You might be asking, what’s a personalization ninja? Well I made it up, but a personalization ninja is an agile marketer that is able to grow online business via personalization (throwing stars optional).

So let’s get to it. Below are four ways to start down the path to personalization mastery.

1. Before going forward, think backwards

If you’ve chosen a personalization tool, congrats. You’ve gained impressive new capabilities that come with a flood of ideas. Make sure to take a step back and consider the capabilities your site already has. Many of your top revenue generation tactics will involve features present on your site. A good personalization solution (such as Evergage) will allow you to leverage those features to create even more meaningful experiences.

A simple example for an online clothing retailer is to capture size preferences as visitors shop, then promote products that are available in that size during the shopping journey. Which leads to the next point…

2. Implementation is critical, give it the TLC it deserves

It will be an exciting time, but don’t go chasin’ waterfalls. Based on the results of step one, take a few extra days to determine what data will power the experiences you want to create, and how you will collect that data. This has a few benefits:

  1. Collecting important data earlier in your planning process gives you information to leverage quicker.
  2. You can avoid additional implementation steps or delays down the road. You’ll thank me 3 months from now when your rich data allows you to implement a killer idea right away.

A useful exercise is to gather your team and write down every site personalization idea you have. Even if you aren’t sure if it’s possible, document it. This can then be turned into a list of implementation/mapping requirements.

3. Create a road map, but don’t be afraid to stray off the path

As with any project, creating a road map is an excellent way to plot your personalization course. However, sticking to it 100% of the time may end up hurting you. As you progress through your first campaigns and understand what is possible, your team will have additional ideas. If you think those ideas will result in a big impact right away, don’t add them to the end of the road map. This is the internet. Get instant gratification, and start boosting your performance today, instead of 6 months from now. When your team is able to create campaigns in a matter of minutes instead of days, you will realize the awesome opportunity a personalization platform provides. But to get to that point, learning from Evergage’s expert support team is a must.

4. Leverage the support team, and think like a programmer

When getting started, make sure to lean on the support team. They are total ballers and can do almost anything (shout out to Evergagers Zak and Kevin). After you get comfortable with the platform, work to understand how it works on the back end. Utilizing the knowledge the support team drops on you will speed this process up. It isn’t complicated, but by understanding how the system works, you will find yourself doing more complex campaigns without the need for support, and it is a great feeling.

Wrap Up

To recap, take your time during the onboarding phase and get the implementation as complete as possible. Having the appropriate data and segments to leverage new ideas is the end goal.

Lean on the support team to help train your brain how to think like a personalization ninja. Once you understand the platform, you will be a green suit away from becoming Donatello in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (of personalization). Not only will you get more out of the platform, but will gain new skills and become a well-rounded marketer for life in the digital age. And to that, I say - COWABUNGA!

Josh is an ecommerce marketer (and Evergage customer) at Milestone AV Technologies striving to build an awesome user experience for customers across online channels.