Evergage - Feed https://www.evergage.comf Real-time behavior-based personalization Fri, 21 Sep 2018 14:21:49 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Improve Oversight of Machine Learning Recommendations with Enhanced “Recipe” QA Feature https://www.evergage.com/blog/preview-machine-learning-recommendations-enhanced-recipe-qa/ Fri, 21 Sep 2018 12:56:53 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=40562





Keep on reading: Improve Oversight of Machine Learning Recommendations with Enhanced “Recipe” QA Feature]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/preview-machine-learning-recommendations-enhanced-recipe-qa/

For many marketers and business users, machine learning is still somewhat foreign. Can you trust an algorithm to make business decisions or control the customer experience? Conventional digital marketing practices tell you that you should incrementally test campaigns before launching them to the masses, which seems to contradict the approach with AI or machine learning. But it doesn’t have to.

Various forms of machine learning have been used in digital marketing for years — most notably in presenting product recommendations based on what's known about a particular shopper or visitor. We launched our own recommendations solution, Evergage Recommend, back in 2015 and have seen great adoption by our customers across industries. This is in part because Evergage can also recommend content, brands, categories and departments – elements that enable business users to leverage machine learning to dynamically change a visitor's experiences in unique ways. Evergage's machine learning also draws upon unprecedented analytics data to make the most informed decisions possible.

But the true power of Evergage Recommend has always stemmed from its customizable and transparent nature. Within the Evergage platform, business users can create recommendation strategies – or what we refer to as "recipes" – by using one or more algorithms, adjusting weighting parameters of the algorithms, adding filters (inclusions and exclusions), boosters and variations. Within a few minutes, anyone – even those without a master's degree in computer science – can build a recipe that can deliver a unique experience to each and every website visitor. Pretty cool, right?

Testing Your Recipes

Once you've created a recipe, however, how do you know if it will actually work the way it's intended? Well, we've actually thought of a solution for that too. From its launch more than three years ago, Evergage Recommend has included the ability for business users to preview what experience a recipe would show to a specific individual based on all it knows about him or her — before publishing the recipe. In other words, Evergage allows a marketer to QA a recipe before publishing it on a website, in an email campaign or a mobile app.

Here's what this has historically looked like in the Evergage platform:

preview machine learning recommendations

Improving the Testing Experience

While incredibly useful and powerful, the preview capability had some limitations. A business user would have to find a specific shopper or visitor to test, for instance, and only the results for one shopper/visitor at time would be returned. As such, ensuring that the recipe would deliver an experience that made sense for multiple visitors was a highly manual process.

The good news is that we have completely overhauled the recipe preview capabilities within the Evergage platform. Now, instead of having to remember a specific shopper or visitor (though that option is still available), business users can find select groups of people by filtering based on certain parameters. For example, a retailer can create an audience based on visitors who have been active in the past six months, who have made a previous purchase and who have a high lifetime value. Or, rather than creating a new audience, a business user can select any existing segment.

Once the audience or segment has been selected, an Evergage end user can simply select the recipe they want to preview and, if applicable, an anchor item. Upon doing so, the updated preview screen will display a list of shoppers and the recommendations they would see based on the recipe and anchor item (i.e., product purchased, viewed, etc.).

preview machine learning recommendations

What's more, within the preview screen, business users can find additional details by hovering over a specific product or a shopper's affinity details. You can even quickly swap out which shoppers appear in the preview screen.

preview machine learning recommendations

This screen works for companies focused on content recommendations too:

preview machine learning recommendations

Final Thoughts

Whether you're a computer scientist familiar with machine learning, or a marketer who's never used machine learning before, Evergage offers a powerful solution for delivering great customer experiences. But the best part is that Evergage’s transparent approach enables incredible oversight to ensure the recipe you've built is designed to achieve the desired business outcomes.

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T.J. Prebil
Moving Beyond the What to the How: The Importance of Operationalizing Personalization https://www.evergage.com/blog/moving-beyond-the-what-to-the-how-importance-operationalizing-personalization/ Wed, 19 Sep 2018 13:19:47 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=40545





Keep on reading: Moving Beyond the What to the How: The Importance of Operationalizing Personalization]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/moving-beyond-the-what-to-the-how-importance-operationalizing-personalization/

Most of the time, the question that comes naturally after “what should I do?” is “how should I do it?”

It applies to many areas of life. If the question you’re facing is “what should I do this weekend?” you may answer “visit my parents.” After you’ve answered that question, you have to answer the next one: “how will I accomplish this plan?” Will you drive or take a train? Can you leave early from work on Friday, or do you need to plan around rush hour traffic? Essentially, once you’ve worked out the what, you need to address the how.

Last week, Evergage hosted the 5th annual Personalization Summit, the theme for which was “Realizing the One-to-One Dream.” In the last two years of my experience at this event, many of the conversations and sessions have centered around the what of personalization. What can personalization do to enhance my customer experience or marketing efforts? What does effective personalization look like? What should my organization’s personalization strategy look like? Those topics played a major role in this year’s event as well.

But this year, many of the conversations trended toward asking the natural next question of how to deliver personalization effectively. A central theme was around the importance of establishing the right process behind the scenes. If you don’t have the right process, you’ll never achieve the success you’re looking for.

Behind the Scenes of Personalization

During the opening keynote of the event, Andrew Flanagan of Lenovo commented that when his company first got started with personalization, it was trying to “borrow time” from other teams to get personalization campaigns off the ground. If Andrew and his team needed help from the design or IT department, for example, they needed to ask for help from those teams. But those teams weren’t involved in the process from the beginning and they weren’t incentivized to help with personalization. As a result, routinely asking them for help on an ad hoc basis wasn’t sustainable.

Dennis White of Citrix made a very similar point. He realized that personalization is a cross-departmental initiative. If getting involved in the planning or executing of personalization campaigns didn’t fall within each department’s top five goals, then they wouldn’t be inclined to participate. He warned that if each of your departments isn’t on the same page about the importance of personalization, then your program won’t get off the ground.

Further addressing this topic, there was a whole session that consisted of leading marketers describing how their teams implement personalization. In that session, we learned that Rue La La often sets quarterly goals to meet its personalization objectives. Dell has established a shared sense of accountability for business results across all teams and has mapped out key milestones to hit along the way. Fidelity is similarly focused on finding those small wins so the team can regularly celebrate victories and stay motivated. Ultimately, each company is striving to establish a repeatable process in a way that makes sense for their unique organizational structures and cultures.

Moving from the What to the How

Typically, when we share personalization successes, we share the business results and the relevant customer experiences the company was able to create. But these stories that highlight successful behind-the-scenes processes are fascinating as well. Why is now the time that we’re ready to move from the “what” to the “how”?

I think the reason for that is clear. Over the last several years, personalization as a concept has cropped up everywhere. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we’re all aware of the value of treating customers and prospects like the unique individuals they are. Marketers have been striving to deliver that type of one-to-one communication for years. But the barrier in those years has been the technology driving it — it just wasn’t ready to support that vision. But today, technology is no longer standing in the way. Instead, the barrier is more often a company’s own internal structures and processes.

As we’ve been talking about the “what” of personalization for the last several years at The Personalization Summit (just like at other marketing conferences around the world), marketers have been working to roll out personalization programs in their own organizations. They’ve heard the success stories, they’ve researched the technology, and they know what’s possible. But as Jonathan Davies of Fidelity mentioned in his panel session at The Personalization Summit, personalization is a business practice tied to real business results. The technology behind it isn’t just a fun tool his team can play with. Ultimately, we’re talking about something critical to any company’s business performance: the customer experience. No single team owns that. In most companies (large and small) more than one person will be involved in the strategy and execution of the customer experience. And as you add more people to anything — from trying to decide where to go out to dinner to executing a new business strategy — the more complicated it becomes.

Final Thoughts

In order to deliver a company-wide customer experience that has personalization at its core, you need a real strategy. You need a process. Each person involved needs to know his or her role, and have a real stake in the outcome. Without those things, personalization will never gain enough traction and runs the risk of falling by the wayside.

This concept has certainly been a component of each Personalization Summit, but it was clearly a much more pressing issue for marketers this year than ever before.

To learn more about how Evergage can partner with you to not only figure out what personalization looks like for your organization, but how to achieve that vision, request a demo today.

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Katie Sweet
3 Important Ways to Optimize Online and Mobile Checkout https://www.evergage.com/blog/3-important-ways-to-optimize-online-and-mobile-checkout/ Fri, 14 Sep 2018 14:45:11 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=36483





Keep on reading: 3 Important Ways to Optimize Online and Mobile Checkout]]>
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In e-commerce, checkout is the point where a sale could either be closed or lost depending on whether the experience has been designed to meet your shoppers’ needs. So when it comes to online and mobile checkout, e-commerce businesses would do well to develop an optimization and personalization strategy that increases customer satisfaction and encourages return visits.

But what should that strategy look like? Here are a few things you can do to give your customers a better checkout experience that will exceed their expectations while they successfully complete their transactions.

1. Design checkout pages that fit your customers’ shopping preferences

You may already have a well-designed desktop checkout experience, but do you have one designed specifically for mobile? Why is that important? Because mobile is overtaking desktop when it comes to e-commerce sales. In 2017, mobile sales accounted for nearly 59% of all e-commerce sales. This percentage is expected to surpass 72% by 2021. Yet the mobile transaction abandonment rate at checkout is 58%. Reasons for abandonment are often the result of a bad page design and layout.

Many businesses claim to have a “mobile optimized” site, but don’t. It’s not just about making your desktop design fit a mobile screen. Your checkout page should be designed specifically for mobile, with a logical flow from top to bottom, left to right, with a user-friendly look and feel. So forget about your desktop checkout form and sketch out a new mobile checkout design—one that’s simple to navigate and offers quick and easy payment flows. You might also consider adding mobile wallets to really simplify the checkout flow.

If your customers are primarily mobile buyers (you can tell this using the data provided by your payment provider), then give them a mobile-specific checkout experience that matches their shopping preferences.

checkout optimization

2. Ask only for the information required to complete the sale

Another aspect of checkout optimization lies in having the right mix of fields on your checkout page—those that lead your particular customer base to a final sale quickly, and with the best chance of a successful authorization.

Some checkout pages might only ask for a name, credit card number, CVV, and expiration date. And that approach may work in certain cases. But every issuing bank has validation rules they refer to when transactions are submitted for approval to ensure those transactions aren’t fraudulent, so the more information you give them—street address, zip code, email address, etc.— the more validations they can do on their side to approve the transaction. However, there is a catch: more fields to complete is not what your customers want. It’s a fine line between what banks want to see and what your customers want to provide.

Do you have a large number of return customers who would appreciate having their payment information stored for future visits so they don’t have to enter their information again? Are you selling a product that does not require shipping? If that’s the case, don’t ask customers to provide a shipping address.

It’s up to you to strike the right balance of gathering payment information. You’ll want to offer a page that asks for a minimal amount of information yet still results in the greatest number of approved transactions. If you’re unsure about how to best design your checkout page, your payment provider should be able to work with you to craft the right mix of questions based on your customer preferences and your business.

checkout optimization

3. Offer a localized checkout experience that matches your customers’ locations

No matter where your customers are located in the world, they want a checkout experience that’s familiar to them. A localized checkout experience provides:

  • Checkout pages in the language of the customer because 42% of shoppers will not purchase from a site unless it is presented in their native language.
  • Prices in your shoppers’ local currencies, because more than 33% of shoppers say they are unlikely to revisit a site that isn’t presented in their own currency.
  • Payment options that are popular in your shoppers’ region of the world, because up to 8% of shoppers will abandon a purchase if they don’t see a local payment option they prefer. In Germany that’s Giropay, for example, or Alipay in China.
  • Behind-the-scenes transaction routing that increases the chances of successful transactions. Payment providers that utilize numerous acquiring banks around the globe and send transactions to the banks most likely to approve them can increase your approval rates by several percentage points.

checkout optimization

Design online and mobile checkout experiences your customers prefer

All transactions are not identical; your checkout experience should reflect that reality. By designing checkout experiences that better match your shoppers’ preferences, ask only for information that is truly necessary, and are appropriate to each shopper’s location, you can ensure an optimal checkout process. Your payment provider can play a key role in this effort, so you can deliver the kind of service your customers expect.

BlueSnap is an e-commerce payment services provider that specializes in secure global payment processing and payment gateway solutions. With BlueSnap, you can design and execute a checkout personalization strategy that moves customers—and your business—smoothly toward success.

Scott Ring is Product Director at BlueSnap. His areas of expertise include eCommerce, payment processing, integrations, and partnerships within companies of all sizes.

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Scott Ring
What Actions Can Be Used to Trigger an Email? https://www.evergage.com/blog/what-actions-can-be-used-to-trigger-an-email/ Tue, 11 Sep 2018 13:55:21 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=32420





Keep on reading: What Actions Can Be Used to Trigger an Email?]]>
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The more relevant your email is to a recipient, the more likely the person is to open it. This may seem pretty obvious. With so many emails cluttering our inboxes, why would we waste our time on anything we don’t care about? Sending triggered emails is one great way to ensure your emails are relevant.

If you take a quick look through your inbox, you’ll likely find at least one example of the most popular type of triggered email: an e-commerce abandonment email.

I did just that — took a quick look through my inbox — and found a bunch. For example, yesterday I browsed through one of my favorite retail sites and left without making a purchase. Later that day, I received an email reminding me of a pair of earrings I had looked at (and really liked). This email wouldn’t have been sent to me if I hadn’t been on the site earlier that day — it was triggered by my engagement with that specific product. I opened the email because the content was relevant to me, and the email kept the earrings top-of-mind for me (I haven’t actually purchased them yet, but I’m considering it!)

triggered email criteria

E-commerce abandonment emails aren’t the only kind of triggered email, though. B2C and B2B companies alike can benefit significantly from this email tactic.

What makes a triggered email different from any other type of email? While a “batch and blast” email is sent to a large group of people at a time determined by the marketer, a triggered email isn’t sent to an individual until specific criteria is met. What kind of “criteria” am I talking about? I’ll explore some of the most common in this blog post.

Behaviors

The email I received about the earrings is an example of a behaviorally driven triggered email. My behavior browsing the site and showing interest in that one pair of earrings is what triggered the email. Another common behaviorally driven triggered email used by B2C companies is the cart abandonment email — where an email is triggered to remind a shopper of items she has left in her cart.

B2B companies use triggered emails too. Companies that aim to drive engagement with their content can use browse abandonment triggered emails. For example, if a known prospect qualified for a segment of visitors who interacted with a specific topic for over three minutes, an email can be triggered to her containing suggestions for related content she hasn’t already consumed.

triggered email criteria

Triggered emails don’t need to be used just externally either. B2B companies may find numerous reasons to trigger emails to their employees to alert them to some behaviorally driven events. For example, an email can be triggered to a customer success manager to alert him that one of his customers hasn’t logged into the SaaS application for several weeks. Or, an email can be triggered to a salesperson to let her know that one of her target account prospects was on the company site so she knows now may be a good time to reach out — as in the example below.

triggered email criteria

External conditions

Customer or prospect behavior isn’t the only thing that can trigger an email. You can also set emails to send based on any external conditions, such as the weather. Clothing retailers can send emails triggered by rain in certain locations to promote raincoats or rain boots. Insurance companies can send content about how to file storm-damage claims during a big storm. Travel companies can send emails recommending beach vacations during a blizzard. It just depends on what makes sense for your business.

Catalog or content updates

Finally, any updates to your product or content catalog can trigger an email when it’s relevant to the specific individual.

For example, if a shopper has previously shown interest in a product and its price drops, he can be notified of that change with a triggered email. Or, if a few new products have been added to his favorite category, he can be notified about that with a triggered email. In each case, the email lets him know that now is the best time for him to act if he wants that product.

New content can also trigger emails. Instead of sending a regular blog newsletter to each subscriber, a content site or B2B blog can trigger one-off emails to individual subscribers only when there are newly published articles that are relevant to the recipients’ interests.

Final Thoughts

While the impact of your triggered emails will vary, one study has found that triggered emails can drive up to 624% higher conversion responses compared to classic “batch and blast” emails. Consider how you can trigger emails to your customers, prospects or even internal employees based on behavior, external conditions, and catalog or content updates.

Evergage for Email allows you to completely control how and when your emails are triggered. You can set the duration that a person needs to engage with a product or a piece of content before an email is triggered, you can set a minimum price level for products that will be promoted through triggered emails, and much more. Learn more in this blog post.

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Katie Sweet
An Introduction to Customer Data Platforms https://www.evergage.com/blog/an-introduction-to-customer-data-platforms/ Thu, 06 Sep 2018 13:10:25 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=28148





Keep on reading: An Introduction to Customer Data Platforms]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/an-introduction-to-customer-data-platforms/

Whenever a new classification of marketing technology emerges, there’s alway a period of confusion. Each marketer has a lot of questions to answer. What exactly is this new solution? Do I need it, or is it really just a fancy new term for a tool I already have? How does it fit with my current tech stack? Is everything I’m hearing just hype, or is this an investment I need to make? Needless to say, it takes some time for best practices to shake out and for thought leaders to gain credibility.

One of the newest martech categories to emerge is the customer data platform (CDP). It’s no surprise that it’s making such a splash. We live in a world where consumers and business buyers are demanding that businesses understand them better and deliver more relevant experiences. But what’s the story on CDPs? What are they and what are they supposed to do? To answer a few introductory questions, we’ve compiled a few insights from some of the early thought leaders in this space.  

What is a CDP?

introduction to customer data platformsA Customer Data Platform is packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.

This definition has three critical elements:

  • Packaged software: the CDP is a prebuilt system that is configured to meet the needs of each client. Some technical resources will be required to set up and maintain the CDP, but it does not require the level of technical skill of a typical data warehouse project. This reduces the time, cost, and risk and gives business users more control over the system, even though they may still need some technical assistance.
  • Creates a persistent, unified customer database: the CDP creates a comprehensive view of each customer by capturing data from multiple systems, linking information related to the same customer, and storing the information to track behavior over time. The CDP contains personal identifiers used to target marketing messages and track individual-level marketing results.
  • Accessible to other systems: data stored in the CDP can be used by other systems for analysis and to manage customer interactions.

—Official definition from the Customer Data Platform Institute (from the CDP Institute’s CDP Basics page)

What’s the history of the CDP?

To manage customer data and analyze it, marketers historically made do with systems built or deployed for them by IT, such as CRM systems and data warehouses. As enhancing the customer experience became a business focus across the organization, big data projects were launched to support deeper customer understanding and more targeted marketing.

Campaign management tools fit the bill for some, but as marketers demand more control, flexibility, analysis capabilities, and platform openness, these legacy systems begin to show their limitations. Marketers are ripe with discontent, which paves the way for a “shiny new thing” in the marketing data and analytics technology category — the Customer Data Platform (or CDP for short).

Sometimes, it seems like the CDP category sprung up overnight. In fact, some CDPs evolved from a variety of mature markets, such as multichannel campaign management, tag management and data integration. Other pure-play, purpose-built CDPs have also launched to capitalize on investor fervor and martech spending.

—Lizzy Foo Kune, Research Director at Gartner (from the Gartner blog)

Can a CDP be created by combining solutions together?

Many people assume that pairing the anonymized data from a DMP with the known customer profiles from a customer relationship management (CRM) system will create the 360-degree customer view they need.

That will not work, and for a few reasons. First, CRMs are largely focused on customer interactions, which limits their ability to address wider business functions beyond marketing. They are also notorious for suffering from data quality issues and lacking the sophistication to support marketing needs, which is why there are other solutions for activities like email, social media marketing and advertising. Most importantly, though, CRM systems cannot reconcile multiple profiles of a single person, device or visitor, which is a critical function of a CDP.

—Steve Zisk, Senior Product Marketing Manager at RedPoint Global (from CMS Wire)

What’s the end goal of a CDP?

It may sound obvious, but consider the reason we want to bring all this data together in the first place — to do something with it. You want to bring all of your data together in one place so that you can truly understand each person who engages with your company. But all of that data is effectively useless if you aren’t going to actually use it.

To use it, a CDP needs to be able to send that data to other systems. Your marketing automation system, your CRM, or any other system you use should have access to this data.

A CDP should also be able to take certain actions on the data on its own — and do so in real time — whether that means triggering a message or personalizing an experience on the web, inside a mobile app, in emails, in digital advertising or through any other channel. A CDP that’s not only a system of record, but also a system of action, can deliver a unique and relevant experience to a person based on all of the data it has amassed.

— Karl Wirth, Co-Founder and CEO of Evergage (from Entrepreneur)

How does GDPR affect CDPs?

CDPs are genuinely well suited to help with GDPR. They’re built to solve two of GDPR’s toughest technical challenges: connecting all internal sources of customer data and linking all data related to the same person. In particular, CDPs focus on first party (i.e., company-owned) personally identifiable information and use deterministic matching to ensure accurate linkages. Those are exactly what GDPR needs. Some CDP vendors have added GDPR-specific features such as consent gathering, usage tracking, and data review portals. But those are relatively easy once you’ve assembled and linked the underlying data.

GDPR is also good for CDPs in broader ways. Most obviously, it raises companies’ awareness of customer data management, which is the core CDP use case. It will also raise consumers’ awareness of their data and their rights, which should lead to better quality customer information as consumers feel more confident that data they provide will be handled properly. (See this Accenture report that 75% of consumers are willing to share personal data if they can control how it’s used, or this PegaSystems survey in which 45% of EU consumers said they would erase their data from a company that sold or shared it with outsiders.) Conversely, GDPR-induced constraints on acquiring external data should make a company’s own data that much more valuable.

—David Raab, Founder of CDP Institute (from Customer Think)

Final Thoughts

It’s clear that the CDP is a valuable solution in the marketing tech stack. A CDP allows marketers to bring customer data together in one place and act on that data to deliver relevant experiences. In our opinion, though, a CDP that simply aggregates data and passes it on to other systems to take action isn’t a complete solution. If delivering real-time, individualized customer experiences is the goal – as it should be in order to maximize relevance – then the CDP should also include cross-channel, 1-to-1 personalization capabilities.

To learn more about CDPs, as well as the role it should play in personalization, check out this eBook from the CDP Institute.

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Katie Sweet
Why We Ungated Our Content & Results We’ve Seen So Far https://www.evergage.com/blog/why-we-ungated-our-content-results-weve-seen-so-far/ Tue, 04 Sep 2018 14:43:53 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=26977





Keep on reading: Why We Ungated Our Content & Results We’ve Seen So Far]]>
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A B2B marketing trend I’ve observed over the past couple years is the “ungating” of premium website content like eBooks, white papers and other high-value resources. Gating refers to the practice of placing a form in front of a piece of content on your site in order to capture the contact information of the person looking to consume it. Typically, these forms reside on a landing page that introduces the content and describes its value, serving to entice the visitor to “convert” – i.e. enter his or her information and become a potential lead.

Ungating, as you might expect, refers to removing that sign-up form. Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, if you’re a B2B marketer tasked with generating leads from your website and measured by your website conversion rate, ungating may seem like the opposite of what you want to do! In this article, I’ll describe why we at Evergage decided to ungate the vast majority of our premium content, how we went about it, and what benefits we’ve begun realizing from it.

ungated content

The Case for Ungating

Until the end of 2017, all of our eBooks and white papers (24 in total) were gated. And up until a couple of months ago, all of our on-demand webinars (30 in total) were gated as well. To produce this volume of content, meet our quality standards, and keep all of it up-to-date requires a significant investment of time and money.  

We generated several hundred leads per month from people downloading these assets. By traditional website demand generation standards these were pretty good results. But for Evergage, we needed to drive a lot more value from our investment.

We knew our content had much broader appeal and value than the numbers we were seeing. What we needed was for our thought leadership content to provide greater brand value. In addition, an important part of the Evergage brand promise is to enable better customer experiences, yet here we were putting up annoying forms in front of our content!

The theory was that if we unshackled our premium content, we’d get far greater consumption of it and hence better brand exposure for Evergage. No forms would mean more downloads, more shares and more backlinks. Personalization is also still a new and competitive market, so we wanted to maximize the reach of our content to potential prospects and influencers.

Furthermore, just as our platform is used to improve customer experiences, we wanted to improve our prospects’ experiences consuming content on our website. We know that buyers today prefer to self-educate and conduct research on their own terms, without the fear they’ll be hounded by a sales rep before they’re ready to engage. And like many B2B tech companies these days, Evergage has adopted an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, so it’s less important to convert high volumes of visitors; rather, quality and fit are more important.

Speaking of quality...let’s not forget how much of the data collected on these forms isn’t accurate! If someone really wants access to a piece of content that’s gated but wants to remain anonymous, they simply enter false data. In 2017, a whopping 25% of leads who filled out eBook forms on our site were classified as “bad data.” I believe the most popular first name in our system was “asdf”!  Meanwhile, another 30% of leads were classified as “not a fit” – in other words, they didn’t meet our qualification criteria to pursue. And, of course, a large number of leads were “not interested,” “unresponsive,” or fell into other buckets that indicated they weren’t good leads.  

Lastly, we analyzed our lead flow and found that the highest quality leads generally did not originate from a gated content download. In fact, In 2017 only 1.6% of leads that we considered qualified and pursued actually started from an eBook download. Most prospects did, however, download one or more premium content assets at some point in their journey. It’s just that for very few was it the first thing they did. And those who did download an eBook as their first interaction with Evergage also engaged with us in other ways later in their journey, so we felt confident we would have eventually captured those leads via some other method.

Taking Action

In the latter part of 2017, based on the initial analysis we conducted, we decided to take action and kick off the ungating initiative — starting with our eBooks and white papers and, later, tackling our webinar replays. These categories represented 94% of all of our gated assets. Like most initiatives in marketing, we pursued the ungating process in stages. We began in late 2017 and continued through mid-2018, testing our assumptions and measuring the results along the way to ensure we were making the right decision and achieving the intended goals.

In order to get meaningful data quickly, we started with a major new asset we published last fall, our full-length book One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning. The download numbers blew the doors off anything we’d published previously, which I wrote about in this blog article. It was a unique kind of asset, though, and we put a lot more into promoting it compared to typical eBooks and other content. Nevertheless, what we learned from the process affirmed our confidence in the value of ungating.

Next, we decided to test one of our most popular traditional eBooks, “35 Ways to Do Real-Time Personalization.” Yet ungating it wasn’t as simple as just removing the form. This was an existing asset with a carefully constructed workflow: visitor reads about asset on landing page => visitor registers for asset => data flows into Act-On (marketing automation system) => Act-On creates or updates lead in Salesforce => lead receives an email with a link to the eBook. This whole experience and workflow needed to be re-evaluated and re-engineered. We also wanted to introduce an optional lead registration form, but more on that in a bit.

We weighed the pros and cons of turning our eBooks into webpage content, and while the latter certainly has definite benefits particularly for SEO, we wanted our eBooks to remain intact in their highly professional, nicely designed and readily printable form. We felt the best way to present them to visitors was to embed each one as a PDF on a dedicated webpage where the viewer could read it online or click to download it.  

Once the “35 Ways” eBook was ready and placed in its own new, ungated page, we could start tracking the results. We checked in weekly for several weeks to see how things were going, and the results were great. Downloads were up 4-5x. Based on these results – in addition to the results we saw from the full-length book – it was full steam ahead with the ungating initiative.

Of course, we couldn’t ungate everything all at once. We had to take the same care and follow the same steps as we did with the first ungated eBook and do the proper QA to ensure everything worked as desired. And there were bumps along the road like choosing an optimal embed method that was fast, reliable and responsive. Once the eBooks and white papers were done, we moved on to the webinar replays, which had its own unique aspects since those were embedded Brainshark video presentations rather than PDFs.   

Keep on Tracking

Ungating doesn’t mean throwing your hands in the air like you just don’t care. There’s no need to give up on tracking visitors who engage with your premium content and saying, “oh well, I guess we can’t know who our higher quality visitors are anymore.”  

You definitely want to continue tracking what you can and capturing new leads when possible. Since we use Evergage on our own site, of course, we were still able to track on-page clicks and time spent to assess the level of engagement by each visitor on our newly ungated content pages. And if visitors arrived to these pages from emails or were already known visitors, we still update Act-On and Salesforce using “blind form submits” to ensure proper campaign tracking and attribution – all done behind the scenes. (Implementing this level of tracking is also part of the reason why the ungating process can take a little longer than you might expect.)   

We also wanted to provide the opportunity to visitors to optionally register for our content. We didn’t want to disturb people with a form of any kind when they obtained their first premium piece of content on our site, but once they go for a second item, we present an optional form with just three fields presented in an unobtrusive way on the right side of the page. They can simply dismiss the form or fill it out if they want to opt in to future communications – which some do! And these are often the better quality, faster-moving leads.

We also include an optional checkbox on this form asking if they also want a demo of Evergage. We’ve always had this on our forms, and in 2017 it was checked 11% of the time on eBook sign-up forms, generating hundreds of demo requests for our sales reps.

ungated content

We also use Evergage to progressively profile those leads who provide their information. If we’ve already captured or know the person’s email, first name and last name, the next form they see asks for a couple additional pieces of information: title, company and industry.  

ungated content

And once we have that, we politely request phone number and “primary challenge” on a third and final form. Few fill this out, of course, but if and when they do, they’re of high quality!

ungated content

Results

As of a couple months ago, we finished ungating all 54 assets we planned on ungating! We finished transitioning the webinar replays more recently, so I don’t have data on those, but I do have good stats on consumption of our eBooks and white papers which we completed earlier in the year:

We generated nearly 5x more downloads of our ungated eBooks and white papers compared to when they were gated. This translated into thousands more people consuming this content than we’d have experienced otherwise. At the same time, we saw a 50% drop in leads captured or visitors identified. This, of course, was not a surprise and frankly wasn’t as bad as expected. It’s also not as bad it that may sound; it only represented a few hundred “lost leads” compared to several thousand incremental, anonymous downloads who’ve been introduced to the Evergage brand, informed by our content, and potentially influenced as a future lead or referral source.

Additional Thoughts & Resources

Not to be forgotten in an analysis of the numbers, an overriding consideration in moving to ungate our content was to provide a better overall experience for our prospects. With the traditional model of gating content, you make a fundamental assumption that you will deliver value in exchange for someone’s contact information. But they don’t know that and you may be wrong. Shouldn’t you instead deliver value first in order to earn the opportunity to engage with a prospect? I believe so. Martin Karlowitsch from Netronic addresses the the topic of engaging your audience based on the anticipation of value versus delivered value nicely in “The One and Only Reason Why We Ungate All our Content.”

For another good resource on the “gate or not to gate” debate, check out Moz Co-Founder Rand Fishkin’s comprehensive and balanced assessment at https://moz.com/blog/content-gating-whiteboard-friday.

When we first entertained the idea of ungating our content, our analysis and discussions led to a fundamental question: if we ungated our thought leadership assets, how much would we lose in terms of quality lead generation compared to how much would we gain in brand reach and mindshare? We could measure the former but not really the latter. A big boost in consumption of content is the closest we can get at this point to assessing the impact on brand exposure. So, like many other programs and ideas, you test and measure what you can, but ultimately you still need to take a leap of faith.  

Oh, and one more (important) thing...even if you run marketing (as I do), be sure you get sales leadership and CEO buy-in early on! It may require a leap of faith, but you don’t want to go it alone on this one.  

If you go down this path as we did, remember to plan accordingly. Ungating is not as simple as just removing your sign-up forms. You want to be more sophisticated and thoughtful about it, provide a seamless experience for visitors, track what you can, capture leads when possible, and sync it all up in the relevant systems.

And, finally, big props to my colleague Zach Skole on owning and driving this initiative for Evergage. We couldn’t have done this without him! #ungated

Learn how Evergage can play a key role in improving the prospect experience on your site, whether your content is gated or ungated, by requesting a demo today.

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Andy Zimmerman
3 Ideas from Brooks Bell for Improving Transparency in Your Personalization https://www.evergage.com/blog/3-ideas-brooks-bell-improving-transparency-personalization/ Thu, 30 Aug 2018 12:55:40 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=26694





Keep on reading: 3 Ideas from Brooks Bell for Improving Transparency in Your Personalization]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/3-ideas-brooks-bell-improving-transparency-personalization/

Everyone has had that weird feeling. You visit a website that’s been personalized to the point where you think they have bugged your house and may have access to your social security number.

It’s not a good feeling. No one wants to feel like they’re being stalked!

Don’t let your personalization make visitors uneasy. The personalized messages and experiences you deliver should come across as friendly and helpful, not creepy. Here’s how to do that.

1. Be Transparent

Disclose your privacy policy, data collection and data sharing policies.

There is a huge paradox in this because explicitly introducing privacy language has been shown to increase reported privacy concerns. However, doing so simultaneously diminishes the effect of privacy concerns on consumer behavior. And given the EU GDPR legislation now in effect, this is particularly important.

Research has found that the inclusion of ad security icons, for example, increases the effectiveness of tailored ads (see Brinson & Easton, 2016), even when the icon is unrecognized (Aguirre et al., 2015). Referencing privacy policies, too, has been found to diminish concerns over data sharing and personalization — even if consumers never read the policy (Martin, 2015). So it’s worth it to be clear about what data you collect and how you use that data, and in the case of EU citizens, it’s a legal requirement.

2. Let people opt in

Segmentation is something you do for your customers; personalization is something they do for themselves.

It can be beneficial to segment your online visitors according to whether they are a first-time or returning user, for example, or based on their location or the action they took to arrive at your website. Any experience you deliver to each of these segments can be helpful, but will not be personalized to the 1-to-1 level, so it may not be as effective as it could be.

There are occasions when you may want to put the power of personalization in your customer’s hands and let them self-select.

A practical example of this would be waiting to provide 1-to-1 personalization until a visitor has viewed a few pages on a website. Once this happens, offering a dialog asking "would you like a more personal shopping experience" could increase the effectiveness of subsequent personalization. Another opportunity would be after a consumer has elected to download your app, or during an email newsletter signup process the consumer has initiated. While there are many times personalization will be so subtle that it can’t be recognized — it simply appears to be a relevant experience — there are other occasions where you may want to ask people to opt in.

3. Target the right people

If you owned a store, you’d greet a long-time customer differently than a first-time customer. Consider the digital equivalent: the personalization experience for someone who subscribes to your weekly email newsletter versus someone who is a completely new user to your site.

That weekly email newsletter subscriber is naturally going to be more interested in — and receptive to — a personalized experience. Research supports the theory that personalization is more effective in the "pull" direction than in the "push" direction (see Limpf & Voorveld). This means that implementing personalization with more loyal customers, and especially those who have requested more tailored experiences, will be more effective.

Wrap-up

Personalization can be a big step for a company — if you’re going to put the effort in, make sure you’re approaching it the right way with transparency, opt-ins and appropriate targeting. Follow these guidelines and your personalization won’t be seen as creepy.

Looking to jumpstart your personalization strategy with Evergage? We can help — read how here. Or look for us at The Personalization Summit in Boston September 12-13. Want to set up a meeting? Reach out at hello@brooksbell.com and we’ll make it happen.

AJ Bikowski is Senior Experience Designer at Brooks Bell, an Evergage partner. AJ delivers design and UX strategy for FedEx, IHG, and other Brooks Bell clients. He has extensive experience in graphic design, website optimization, and user experience research. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication with a concentration in visual communications and a minor in psychology from the University of South Carolina.

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AJ Bikowski
Gain More Control Over Your Triggered Emails https://www.evergage.com/blog/gain-more-control-over-your-triggered-emails/ Tue, 28 Aug 2018 13:15:21 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=26944





Keep on reading: Gain More Control Over Your Triggered Emails]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/gain-more-control-over-your-triggered-emails/

Evergage for Email – Triggered Email was officially launched late last year and has been adopted by numerous clients. This capability enables businesses to send one-off email messages – from within Evergage – to customers and prospects based on their onsite activity (or lack thereof), updates to a product or content catalog, or external factors like weather or data passed from a CRM application.

Why would a marketer use Evergage to send triggered emails? Evergage natively collects extensive behavioral data on every site visitor. This data enables companies to discern a visitor’s true interests and intent. These insights can, in turn, be used to determine the most relevant content for each person. The more relevant a marketer’s emails are, the more effective they are likely to be in terms of engagement and clickthroughs.

With an eye toward continuous improvement, we are pleased to announce several new, simplified controls that enhance Evergage’s triggered email functionality.

Simplified Controls

With the latest enhancement to Evergage for Email – Triggered Email, marketers now have more control over when a triggered email is sent. When setting up an email campaign in Evergage, you can now define additional “catalog” or “behavioral” variables that dictate when an email should be sent. These criteria don’t have to be hard-coded by an engineer. Rather, they can be configured by a business user within a few minutes. The new controls include:

  • Engagement Time: Business users can determine the minimum amount of time that a shopper needs to have engaged with a product before an email is sent. For example, you can opt to send a browse abandonment email only if a shopper has spent more than 30 seconds viewing a product. This means that you won’t ever send an email encouraging someone to return to your site to buy a product he only spent one second viewing, clearly demonstrating his lack of interest in the item.
  • Catalog Filter: Business users can define the product attributes that qualify for a triggered email (i.e., a product’s category, price, brand, style, keyword and more). For instance, you may not want to send a reminder email for a $20 accessory when your average order value is $500. In that case, you’d want to save your emails for higher-priced items.
  • Behavior Filters: Business users can apply behavioral filters that can help safeguard against sending an inappropriate email. Case in point: you wouldn't want to send an email if the customer has already purchased the item.

Retail Example

Let's say you're a retailer that sells electronics online such as TVs, cameras, stereos and related accessories. To re-engage customers who have left your site before completing a purchase, you may choose to send browse abandonment emails.

Using the enhanced Evergage triggered email controls, you could easily configure a browse abandonment email to be sent to a shopper who has viewed an HDTV for more than 25 seconds that costs more than $400 which she has not yet added to her cart (as shown in the image below). 

triggered email

Additionally, business users can determine how quickly the triggered email should be sent after an event took place, when it should be sent in terms of days of the week and hours of the day, and the email’s priority as it applies to other email communications.

Best of all, configuring these parameters only takes a few minutes within Evergage.

This is just one of the countless scenarios that these controls allow for. If that sounds interesting to you, request a demo or speak with your customer success manager for more info.

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T.J. Prebil
Using Personalization to Engage Prospects in the Complex Sale https://www.evergage.com/blog/using-personalization-in-the-complex-sale/ Fri, 24 Aug 2018 13:02:26 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=26640





Keep on reading: Using Personalization to Engage Prospects in the Complex Sale]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/using-personalization-in-the-complex-sale/

Seventy-five percent of Netflix users rely on Netflix’s recommendations to help them choose what to watch. As a Netflix user myself, that number doesn’t surprise me at all. With so much content available on the platform, I’ve come to rely on those recommendations to help narrow my focus to the content that’s most interesting to me. I want Netflix to understand my preferences as much as possible so I can spend more time watching and less time searching.

When it comes to personalized experiences, Netflix is probably top-of-mind for many of us, along with other big names like Amazon and Spotify. But with these services, they are quick, simple purchases: you buy something from Amazon in a few clicks, you keep renewing your Netflix and Spotify subscriptions because you find them valuable. It may get less attention, but personalization has a big role to play in the complex sale too. By a complex sale, I mean something that takes longer to evaluate and purchase. It could mean financial services or insurance products, a higher education degree, a B2B purchase, etc.

Earlier this month, Jason Smith, Managing Director and Founder of OHO Interactive, and Paula Crerar, VP of Content Marketing and Programs at Evergage, presented the webinar “Using Personalization to Engage Prospects in the Complex Sale” to address this topic. I want to cover a little of what they talked about in this blog post, but be sure to watch the full webinar replay for more.

What does personalization look like in the complex sale?

Complex sales are more considered purchases than simple transactions. In most cases, consumers or business buyers conduct more research over a longer period of time, and there is a lot of information to digest.

As a marketer, it’s your job to make the research process for your prospects as simple as possible. You want to help them find the information they need to make their decisions. You want to suggest the next steps for each visitor so they aren’t stuck or overwhelmed at any point. Your prospects may visit your website several times over the course of a few months, so you want to help them quickly pick up where they left off.

With the right personalization solution, you can bring your data sources together in a central location, recognize a visitor when he lands on your site (whether he is known or anonymous), infer what he is interested in and where he is in his research, and then deliver a relevant experience to him each time he is on your site.

Example: Roger Williams University

That can sound like a lot, so let’s walk through an example — one that Jason gave in the webinar.

A college education is a considered purchase. Picking which school to attend requires a long decision process. There is a complex payment process. It is expensive. And there is a delayed ROI, as students don’t know whether the education was worth it until after they finish the program in several years. As a result, there is a lot of hesitation and uncertainty surrounding any higher education decision. Personalization can help guide prospective students through their research.

After conducting research and talking to prospective and current students, Roger Williams University and its partner, OHO Interactive, learned that many of the students are returning to school later in life. They aren’t interested in the typical “college experience.” Instead, they want to get a good education in their chosen field and get on with the rest of their lives. And since career advancement is the primary reason they are returning to school, they are very focused on one specific career path. If a prospect has decided to go back to school to become a paralegal, she doesn’t want to conduct research on any other career programs. She is laser-focused on seeking out information on paralegal studies.

So, to start, Roger Williams and OHO redesigned the site and focused not on college life, but on accomplishing goals:

personalization in the complex sale

Then, to help a prospective student pick up her research where she left off whenever she returns to the site, Roger Williams personalizes the homepage and various calls-to-action around the site based on her preferred field of study. For example, as shown below, the home page is personalized to a visitor who has been researching paralegal education. As a result of this campaign, Roger Williams has experienced a remarkable 86% lift in leads.

personalization in the complex sale

As another example, to help keep moving prospective students forward in their research, Roger Williams displays a geo-targeted message to visitors in the area. This message encourages them to attend an open house so that they can get their questions answered, see the campus and learn more.

personalization in the complex sale

This campaign resulted in a 9% clickthrough rate and a 6.8% conversion rate.

Final Thoughts

Personalization is an important component of the complex sale. It allows you to guide visitors through their research as they progress at their own pace. I just described a couple examples for one educational institution, but there are many more examples that Jason presented in the webinar. Watch the webinar replay for the full presentation.

And to learn more about how Evergage can help you deliver personalized experiences throughout your own complex sale, request a demo today.

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Katie Sweet
Trends in ABM: 4 Takeaways from #FlipMyFunnel 2018 https://www.evergage.com/blog/trends-in-abm-4-takeaways-from-flipmyfunnel-2018/ Tue, 21 Aug 2018 13:15:08 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=26627





Keep on reading: Trends in ABM: 4 Takeaways from #FlipMyFunnel 2018]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/trends-in-abm-4-takeaways-from-flipmyfunnel-2018/

Earlier this month, I attended the #FlipMyFunnel conference in Boston. It was a great event, sponsored by Terminus, focused on account-based marketing for sales and marketing professionals in the B2B (predominantly tech) sector. The theme of the conference was “Humanizing B2B.” It was all about humanizing interactions with customers and prospects in a technologically advanced world. Various keynotes and sessions talked about how to personalize and optimize your interactions across each touchpoint in ways that don't feel manufactured.

In this blog post, I’ll outline a few of my main takeaways from the event.

ABM Is a Strategy, Not a Tool or Tactic

This event made it clear that many organizations in B2B Tech are shifting to an ABM model for their sales and marketing teams. Some organizations are moving their BDRs/SDRs under marketing in order to enhance cross-functional alignment to better implement their ABM strategies. Some organizations are also focusing on ABM to develop better relationships with their existing customers and drive upsells. Some organizations are even developing ABx (they are dropping the "M" because not everyone is on the marketing team) committees that oversee all orchestration, activities, and results. This is also reflected in their internal reporting structure.

The point is that every company does ABM differently — it's not a "one size fits all" approach. However, it's clear that companies leveraging ABM don’t think of it as a single campaign or set of campaigns. Rather, it's a holistic approach to identifying, prioritizing, targeting, and engaging the accounts in your total addressable market and customer base.

Buy-in is Critical

ABM is not going to work if your team does not buy into the strategy. Whether that's your own internal team, another internal team, or across departments, "buy-in" is critical to the success of ABM. This concept was brought up again and again throughout the conference. Several speakers even mentioned that, while shifting to an ABM-centric sales/marketing model, "detractors" were let go for refusing to align to the new processes. One speaker even declared that you need to "hire for culture and fire for culture!"

At the end of the day, ABM is a collaborative effort and everyone needs to be on the same page for it to work effectively. While hopefully most organizations do not need to resort to layoffs to make this work, it’s worth taking the time to ensure that everyone is on the same page before diving in.

ABM is an Iterative Process

Many of the speakers throughout the event described how their companies are rolling out "phases" or "versions" of ABM. In short, they are taking a small portion of their whole account list and piloting ABM-related activities against those accounts. Then, based on the successes and failures of that initial program, they are iterating and scaling. Many companies referred to the phases of their ABM program as V1, V2, etc.

At Evergage, we expanded our ABM efforts after starting at a smaller scale. Once we outlined our ABM program, we piloted our first list of target accounts. A little over one year later, after launching and executing our ABM strategy for our Tier 1 and Tier 2 lists, we are now working on defining and expanding to a Tier 3 set of accounts! While exciting, this process takes a lot of time and refinement, as we’ve learned so many lessons along the way. Trying to do everything at once is definitely not the most effective strategy, considering ABM spans across entire teams and functions. It is likely that you will make mistakes trying to take on too much at once.

Personalization Matters

Personalization is a critical component of account-based marketing. Whether your business development representatives (BDRs), sales development representatives (SDRs), or even account development representatives (ADRs) are personalizing their outreach, or you are creating custom account-specific website experiences for your prospects, you want to ensure that each “touch” (or outreach) provides value. One-to-one personalization is the best way to engage prospects, delivering hyper-relevant materials and content.

Personalization is not simply the use of custom or dynamic fields in an email, delivered by a sales or marketing automation tool. With true 1-to-1 personalization, you can understand how an individual is interacting with your site and identify what that behavior says about his preferences and intent, then show him something relevant to him in real time — online, in app or via email.

When you incorporate personalization into your ABM strategy, you are focusing your efforts at the account level. You are paying attention to how many prospects within the account are engaging with your site, who they are, where they are spending their time, and what they are doing. However, you are not trying to engage “the account.” You are trying to engage individuals within the account.

Understanding each prospect’s behavior immediately humanizes your approach. Each individual isn’t just a random person on your website from an account that you want to book a meeting with. He is a real person, with real interests and a specific role to play within his company, who wants to be treated like a person. Providing a highly relevant experience to each individual is the best way to maximize the value of each interaction. While you’re not going to engage every account on your target list, you will certainly engage most of them if you are able to provide many great experiences, across many different channels, to many individuals within the same account.

Conclusion

Account-based marketing isn’t just another trend — it’s here to stay. Many marketers are still working to figure out exactly what “ABM” (or ABx) looks like at their organization, but there is no doubt that ABM is changing the way that B2B companies are thinking about sales and marketing. It was very insightful to hear all of the different ABM stories across sales and marketing at other organizations, and I am excited to implement some of the tactical strategies that I learned at the event at Evergage. I look forward to seeing how ABM evolves, both internally and within the B2B community, over the next year!

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Catherine Kervick