Evergage - Feed https://www.evergage.comf Real-time behavior-based personalization Tue, 19 Mar 2019 16:13:05 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 The Importance of Data Activation in Your CDP Strategy https://www.evergage.com/blog/the-importance-of-data-activation-in-your-cdp-strategy/ Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:54:29 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=48643





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In the business world, it’s easy to be so focused on just getting something done, that you forget about why you were doing it in the first place. You aim to send a certain number of emails, publish a certain number of blog posts, attract a certain number of website visitors — but lose sight of what you were trying to accomplish in the first place. As a result, you may find that you’ve done a lot of work, yet your business isn’t seeing meaningful benefits from that work.

The same can be true about investing in new marketing technology. You can get so caught up in the process of selecting and onboarding a new solution, that you lose sight of why you wanted that solution in the first place. As a result, you may find you have an impressive piece of technology, but not the ROI.

If you’ve been following the latest developments in marketing technology, you may be looking into a customer data platform (CDP). But if you’ve experienced anything like what I’ve just described, remember to have your end goals in mind from the start. In this blog post, I’ll explore what a CDP is, what your goals with a CDP might be, and why it’s important to always have them in the back of your mind as you get started with a CDP initiative.

What is a CDP?

The CDP Institute’s official definition of a CDP is “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems."

In our view, there are three levels of CDPs. A Level 1 CDP brings together first-party customer data from multiple sources and stores it in a central location — creating a single view of each customer with a universal ID for each person. Level 1 CDPs do not pass the data to other systems, nor do they take any action on the data themselves. They are used exclusively for analysis.

A Level 2 CDP can pass segment-level data from the CDP to other systems, while a Level 3 CDP can pass data to other systems, as well as act on the data itself to deliver personalized experiences across channels.

activation of CDP data

This white paper provides a more in-depth analysis of the three different levels of CDPs if you’re interested in learning more.

How do you decide which type of CDP is right for your organization? The CDP you pick should be dictated by your end goals. In your vision of the future — when you have a CDP fully implemented within your tech stack — what do you want to be able to do with it? How do you envision using that data? No one goes through data integration projects just for fun. You definitely want to have an idea of what you’re hoping to achieve.

This is where the conversation about CDP data activation comes in.

What is activation?

In this context, activation means using the data you collected and stored within your CDP to affect a customer experience in some way. At Evergage, we refer to this process as personalization — because you are using something you know about a person to deliver a more personally relevant experience.

Activation of CDP data can take many forms. For example, you’re able to:

  • Determine which promotions or offers to target to each person based on his or her past behaviors, interests, loyalty program status, etc.
  • Deliver digital ads only to people most likely to be affected by them — and avoid spending money advertising to loyal customers who are more likely to purchase on their own.   
  • Talk to target ABM accounts or open sales opportunities in a specific and targeted way across channels.
  • Ensure web and email CTAs are always relevant to the recipient (for example, removing/changing CTAs for actions a person has already taken).
  • Recommend content, products, brands, and more based on everything that is known about that person in the moment while they’re on your site or in emails.

Any time you tailor an experience to someone in a particular channel based on the information you have gathered in his or her customer profile in the CDP, that’s activation.

Is activation your end goal?

As you’re dreaming up your ideal customer experience, answer this question: do I want to take action on the data I compile to provide a more personalized and relevant experience? The answer will dictate the type of CDP you invest in.

Note that organizations with a Level 1 CDP can’t act on the customer data being stored. There are some cases where a Level 1 CDP is all a business needs — but those situations are typically in the minority. The most common reason businesses have a Level 1 CDP is that they have embarked on a long-term project to bring their data together, only to find that the data can’t easily be used because activation capabilities weren’t built in or considered from the beginning. In those instances, companies may find themselves with a Level 1 CDP unintentionally, where they would have been better off with a Level 2 or Level 3 CDP.

You don’t want to find yourself in this situation if it’s not your intention. If you’re looking for data activation with your CDP, make sure you pick a solution from the start that will allow you to do so.

Final Thoughts

Bringing all of your customer data together in one place is a major challenge. You don’t want to undertake such a project without a clear end goal. More often than not, that goal should be activation — because it doesn’t make sense to bring data together if you don’t plan on using it to affect customer experiences.

To learn more about Evergage’s customer data platform allows you to activate your CDP data, request a demo today.

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Katie Sweet
Why You Shouldn’t “Chat Up” Visitors the Moment They Land on Your Site https://www.evergage.com/blog/why-you-shouldnt-chat-up-visitors-the-moment-they-land-on-your-site/ Thu, 14 Mar 2019 15:47:44 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=48595





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Located less than 10 miles from Evergage’s headquarters in Somerville, MA, Drift is a local media darling that’s taken the B2B world by storm. The company’s communications and engagement solutions help demand gen-focused businesses drive leads through what it refers to as “conversational marketing.” If you’re not familiar with Drift as a company, perhaps you’ve come across their seemingly ubiquitous message icon:

website chat

Despite Drift’s popularity, I can’t help but think that they would be better served if their customers would exercise a bit more restraint when it comes to when and how they engage their website visitors. Otherwise, Drift (and other chat solutions) could be heading the way of ForeSee.

ForeSee (now Verint ForeSee) is a voice of the customer (VoC) solution which you may have come across when you’ve been presented with a visitor satisfaction survey pop-up – often when you first land on a company’s website. Without knowing anything about a visitor (and often the visitor not knowing anything the company), ForeSee surveys purposely disrupt a visitor’s experience in the hope of encouraging them to share their feedback or opinions.

This obviously begs the question: how in the world can you provide feedback about your website experience before you’ve had a chance to actually spend time on that website? You can’t! Yet using an approach similar to ForeSee, it seems that many businesses using chat tools assume first-time visitors want to engage with them when they initially land on a website.

Evergage itself, as B2B solution provider, is focused on demand generation and account-based marketing, and online chat is one of our many marketing tactics (although we are not a Drift customer). However, we don’t interrupt new visitors you when they first land on our website.

Why? Well, we like to put ourselves in the shoes of those who visit our website, and we don’t want to distract them from first learning a bit about our solution and company. We monitor engagement to know when a chat session may be more appropriate, as we know customers are more apt to chat when they are on certain pages (e.g., pricing, features) and have engaged with the content for a certain amount of time. These are relatively basic indicators of interest that a company should be aware of. As part of our ABM strategy, we also take things a step further and personalize the chat greeting to the specific target account (by name and industry) and use the face of the actual person offering to chat:

website chat

Here are a few website chat guidelines I would recommend to companies when engaging visitors on their websites.

  • Don’t show/initiate chat on your homepage, or at least not the second a person arrives on the site
  • Only include chat on select pages of your site (e.g., pricing, contact, product pages)
  • Wait until engagement thresholds are met before displaying the chat option (e.g., visitor watches a video, downloads a white paper, scrolls down the page, has viewed multiple pages, has spent a minimum amount of time on your site, etc.)
  • If someone closes a chat box, don’t reopen it both on the current page or any other page during that visitor’s current session
  • Personalize chat messages for high-value or target industry accounts
  • Don’t show an open chat window by default

In Drift’s defense, it does provide a number of settings so business users can define when to show the chat icon on their websites. For example, the chat icon can appear based on a visitor's firmographic data, whether she falls into a particular segment, and more. I just wish more companies would utilize these options.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that chat is a powerful tool for engaging visitors and Drift, in particular, is one of the top solutions available. Unfortunately, marketers are often too aggressive in using chat message pop-ups, which can start to feel like those annoying ForeSee surveys.

Remember to put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. Maybe aggressive chat is working for you. If so, that’s great. But don’t lose sight of your customer experience. If you visited your own website, when and where would you like to engage? Begin there and then err on the side of caution. It will serve the best interests of your company in the long run and ensure chat remains an effective means of engaging with your visitors.

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T.J. Prebil
4 Tips for Effective Product Recommendations https://www.evergage.com/blog/4-tips-for-effective-product-recommendations/ Tue, 12 Mar 2019 14:10:50 +0000 http://evergage.com/?p=8921





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It’s no secret that consumers are interested in personalized shopping experiences. And the effects of personalized experiences are well documented. A report from Business Insider found that 49% of consumers surveyed said they have purchased a product they weren't planning to buy after receiving a personalized recommendation, and 40% of shoppers have spent more on a purchase than planned because of a personalized shopping experience.

But these numbers aren’t guaranteed from just any product recommendation — recommended products need to be personalized to each individual to be truly effective. Retailers with strong product recommendation strategies – driven by machine-learning algorithms – will position themselves to win over more customers. But what are the qualities of the most successful product recommendations? Here are four tips you can use to transform your recommendation strategies from status quo to competitive.

1. Incorporate in-depth behavioral data

Retailers collect a wealth of data about their known customers as well as their anonymous shoppers. All of that data can come together to indicate customer interests and preferences — which can be used to inform recommendations. E-commerce leaders should analyze the story behind the data to identify why shoppers find these products valuable or interesting. For example, knowing how long a consumer spends browsing particular products, brands, styles or categories can help you uncover true interest and buying intent.

This intent-driven analysis layer can help create more effective product recommendations by allowing them to be completely personalized to each individual.

Take Invaluable, the world’s leading online marketplace for fine art, antiques and collectibles, for example. Every Invaluable customer has sophisticated and highly individualized tastes. Some seek to build an intimate collection of unique pieces spanning several artists or movements, while others are interested in extremely specific one-of-a-kind pieces. And since pieces are auctioned rapidly, Invaluable must quickly match customers to relevant pieces before each piece is sold.

To accomplish this, Invaluable pays attention not just to which specific items a collector is interested in, but what that interest says about her preferences for styles, categories, auction houses, artists and more. With this understanding, it can select individually tailored recommendations in real time. For example, the image below shows the recommendations a customer who has shown a strong interest in pop art would see, but someone who is interested in antique furniture and vases would see a completely different experience.

product recommendations

2. Define and test your own recommendation strategies

Not all product recommendations are created equally. You need to start with good, in-depth data, but you also need the right algorithm to select products that will resonate most strongly with your customer base.

A good recommendation engine will allow you — the human — to exercise control over how the algorithms make their selections. When you create your own algorithmic “recipe,” you start by picking a base algorithm that tells the machine where to begin. Common base algorithms include trending products, recently added products, items that are bought or browsed together, and several machine-learning algorithms like collaborative filtering that you can learn more about in this eBook. Then you can incorporate filters that include or exclude certain criteria (such as certain categories or price points) based on your business goals and boosters to highlight certain individual preferences for colors, brands, price points, etc.

Once you’ve added the human element to your recommendation algorithms, test them. You may find that for your business, shoppers don’t care as much about product color — but they’re very brand loyal. In that case, you should ensure that your algorithms prioritize products based on brand affinity, but not color affinity. You may find that trending products work best on your homepage, but co-browse products work best on your cart page. Regular testing and iterating is the only way to know for sure.

3. Leverage recommendations across the full experience

You have many different marketing channels, and many touchpoints within those channels, where you can present recommendations. For example, you can present product recommendations across your homepage, product detail pages (PDPs), category pages, 404 pages, shopping cart, etc. — not to mention your website, mobile app, email campaigns, paid ads, or even in person. Each of these areas should contain consistent recommendations that demonstrate an understanding of each individual.   

For example, retailer Carhartt displays recommendations across many different areas of its site and across channels, such as its shopping cart:

product recommendations

as well as its 404 pages:

product recommendations

and its email campaigns.product recommendations

Product recommendations in each of these areas are selected based on a true understanding of each individual to create a consistent experience no matter where the recommendations are viewed.

4. Incorporate social proof

Study after study shows that consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of marketing; in other words, they value social proof. Your recommendations will be more effective when emulating these real-world patterns. Once you ensure you’re recommending the most relevant products for each individual, take it up a notch and encourage action with badging. For instance, indicating to shoppers that certain recommended items have been viewed by hundreds of other shoppers during the last hour can indicate that others are interested.

product recommendations

You can also use badging to indicate when products are a “top pick,” “bestseller,” “new,” etc. to give shoppers more information and incentives to click on your product recommendations.

product recommendations

Final thoughts

Shoppers tell you a lot about themselves based on how they interact with your company across touchpoints. Use that information to deliver the most relevant and engaging product recommendations possible. The end result? You’ll provide more value to your customers and fuel more transactions along the way.

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Katie Sweet
Personalization Defined: What is Personalization? https://www.evergage.com/blog/personalization-definition-what-is-personalization/ Wed, 06 Mar 2019 14:06:26 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=48401





Keep on reading: Personalization Defined: What is Personalization?]]>
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One year for my birthday, one of my closest friends gave me a very special notebook. Not only is a notebook a good gift for me in general, but it was also in my favorite color (red) with a lyric from one of my favorite songs (Arctic Monkeys’ “Fluorescent Adolescent”) on the cover. Talk about a personalized gift! I felt like it was created just for me.

It turns out that it was created just for me. My friend bought the notebook from Etsy.com, and she selected the color and asked the artist to add the lyric to the front cover just for me. In other words, she personalized the notebook for me based on what she knew I liked.

The term “personalization” is used all the time in the world of marketing, but I think sometimes its true meaning can get lost. So, in this blog post, I want to spend some time properly defining it.

What is personalization?

According to Gartner, personalization is “a process that creates a relevant, individualized interaction between two parties designed to enhance the experience of the recipient.”

More simply put, we would say:

Personalization is the act of tailoring an experience or communication based on information a company has learned about an individual.

Just like my friend had a notebook tailored based on information she has learned about me over the years (my favorite color and songs), companies can tailor experiences or communications based on information they learn about their prospects and customers.  

Tailoring Experiences

What types of experiences can be tailored? Most of the channels in which customer interactions take place can be personalized. Some of the main ones include:

  • Websites
  • Mobile apps
  • Emails
  • Web apps (like a SaaS application)
  • Online ads
  • In-store/in-branch communications
  • Online chats
  • Call centers

Acting on Information

What kind of information can be acted on to tailor experiences in those channels? It’s basically an unlimited list that contains any information a company can collect about its customers and prospects. But some of the most common include:

  • Geolocation
  • Source (such as search, email, social, paid ad, referring site, etc.)
  • Firmographic information for B2B (such as industry, company, revenue, employee count, technology stack, etc.)
  • Buyer persona
  • Buyer status (e.g. customer or prospect)
  • Time of day
  • Browser or device type
  • Number of site visits, logins or pages/screens viewed
  • Active time spent
  • Time elapsed since last visit, email open, call center interaction, etc.
  • Purchases made, articles read, videos viewed, etc.
  • Lifetime value (LTV)
  • Mouse movement (scrolling, hovering, inactivity)
  • Affinity toward content and products along with their characteristics (categories, tags, brands, colors, keywords, etc.)
  • Email opens and clicks
  • Push notification dismissals or clickthroughs

Personalization Examples

There is a seemingly endless number of ways you could use this information to affect experiences in the channels I mentioned.

For example, a B2B tech site that modifies its website homepage experience to speak differently to specific companies is using personalization as part of its ABM strategy.

personalization definition

Experience: Tailor homepage hero image, copy and calls-to-action
Information used: Company name

A B2C shoe retailer that features nursing shoes on its homepage only to visitors that have shown an interest in nursing shoes is using personalization.

personalization definition

Experience: Tailor homepage hero headline, image and call-to-action
Information used: Past browsing history and time spent by category

A financial services site that displays content recommendations based on each visitor’s individual interests is using personalization.

personalization definition

Experience: Present individually relevant content recommendations
Information used: Interests and preferences inferred from visitor’s site engagement

A retailer that sends emails to remind a shopper of an item left in his cart and suggest other products he may be interested in is using personalization.

personalization definition

Experience: Send triggered email with individually relevant product recommendations
Information used: Item abandoned in cart and preferences inferred from visitor’s site engagement

A SaaS application that displays a message offering real-time tips to eliminate user confusion in the moment is using personalization.

personalization definition

Experience: Display timely, in-app message
Information used: User’s actions

A site that highlights the most relevant products for each individual (based on the colors, brands, and styles they usually shop) in its search results is using personalization.

personalization definition

Experience: Show individually relevant on-site search results
Information used: Preferences inferred from visitor’s engagement with products and those products’ characteristics

A call center rep that refers to a person’s account information and site browsing activity to deliver a more helpful customer experience is using personalization.  

These examples show only a small fraction of what’s possible with personalization. Essentially, any time a company tailors imagery, messaging, recommendations, communications, interactions, promotions, or advertisements based on something it has learned about a person, it is employing personalization.  

Personalization vs. customization

This definition of personalization may sound similar to another concept, customization. But there is a clear difference. With personalization, a company modifies an experience without any effort from the customer. Customization, on the other hand, allows the customer to intentionally modify the experience himself.

For example, when you adjust your Gmail settings to indicate the number of messages you want to see per page and add a signature, you are customizing your email experience. But when Gmail displays advertisements to you based on your interests, it’s personalizing your experience for you. In the first example, you’re intentionally changing the experience. In the second, you’re receiving more relevant ads without taking any action yourself.

Let’s explore another example we’re all familiar with: online shopping. Many e-commerce sites allow you to filter the products shown on a page to help you more easily locate the ones that meet your specific criteria.

personalization definition

That’s customization. You are intentionally customizing the products you see on that page to help you find what you’re looking for more quickly.

But a site could deliver a similar result — helping you find the product that best meets your needs — without requiring you to take any action yourself. Instead, the site could sort the products on the page and list those at the top that meet the preferences you’ve demonstrated by your behavior. For example, if you regularly shop and purchase home decor in black and brushed nickel, it might display those items toward the top of the list. This way, you can find those products more quickly without needing to scroll through pages of irrelevant gold or white decor first.

In another example of customization vs. personalization, let’s consider email frequency. Often when you sign up to join a company’s email list (or when you attempt to unsubscribe), companies offer you the option to modify your preferences to dictate how often you’d like to receive emails (daily, weekly, etc.)  

personalization definition

This is another example of customization; you’re telling the company how often you’d like to hear from them.

But you could reach the same end result (more or fewer emails) with personalization too. In that case, the company would pay attention to how often you tend to engage with their email communications and adjust the frequency of email sends accordingly. Recipients who tend to open and interact with more emails will receive emails more frequently, while those who only interact occasionally will receive emails less frequently. That’s personalization.

With both personalization and customization, the end result is a more relevant experience for the customer. But the difference is whether the customer does the work or not.  

Personalization Expectations

There are many reasons why an organization may choose to personalize. It can increase engagement, drive conversions, foster loyalty, and improve a number of other KPIs. But at the broadest level, personalization is important because in today’s world, people have come to expect personalization.

For instance, I use Spotify every single day. I have come to rely on the personalized playlists that Spotify curates for me based on a careful observation of what I have listened to over the last several years. I feel the same way about watching TV shows and movies through Netflix. With all the content that’s out there competing for my attention, I love that these platforms sift through it all for me and make recommendations, helping save me time and improving my satisfaction with the services.

Even if you don’t use Spotify and Netflix as regularly as I do, you can probably still appreciate that personalization is essential to a modern customer experience. Generic experiences fall flat when compared to experiences like those.

Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Consumer” report found that 59% of consumers and business buyers believe that tailored experiences based on their past interactions are very important, while 84% of them say that being treated like a person, not a number, is very important. It also found that customers are 4.7x more likely to view real-time messaging as important versus unimportant.

And marketers have recognized that their customers demand personalization. The vast majority (98%) of marketers believe that personalization helps advance customer relationships, while 88% believe that their prospects or customers expect a personalized experience.

In other words, personalization is important to both customers and marketers today. At Evergage, we believe that it will only become more important in the future — so it’s something to invest in today.

Final Thoughts

Whether personalization is obvious, as in the case of Spotify and Netflix, or more subtle — as in some of the examples I provided above — it provides a better experience for the customer. It surfaces important information and makes them feel valued.

Evergage’s personalization and customer data platform can help you provide more personalized customer experiences. Request a demo today to learn more.

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Katie Sweet
Innovate Your ABM Program By Treating Active Prospects Like You Know Them https://www.evergage.com/blog/innovate-your-abm-program-by-treating-active-prospects-like-you-know-them/ Fri, 01 Mar 2019 14:24:36 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=48282





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Companies with account-based marketing (ABM) strategies often spend a lot of time thinking about how to tailor their marketing activities to high-value target accounts. They also often employ strategies to treat existing customers in a special way. These two audiences are important to any B2B company, but they don’t include one group that often gets overlooked: prospects that are currently in the sales process but are not on the ABM target account list. These accounts are engaged in conversations with your salespeople and may even be in your forecast, so they’re pretty important, too!

We all want to be treated as unique individuals. No one wants to be treated “just like everyone else.” This is especially true when there’s an existing relationship with a company. Once an account enters into conversations with your sales team, they become special to you. And you should treat them that way.

With that in mind, we at Evergage wanted to make sure that we weren’t treating accounts with open opportunities like strangers. We wanted to let site visitors from such accounts know that we recognize them. Sometimes the visitor is the same person who’s involved in the sales process, while other times – as is often the case in enterprise B2B sales – it’s someone else from the same account who may be an influencer, a fellow evaluator or even a decision-maker. In this blog post, I’ll describe a recent campaign we launched to treat accounts with current sales opportunities differently while they’re on our site to give you some inspiration for evolving your own ABM strategy.

Welcome Message

At a high level, this ABM campaign involves recognizing accounts who are currently involved in conversations with our sales team, informing or reminding visitors from that account who their account manager is, and providing an easy way to get in touch with that person. We did this by triggering a personalized infobar to display to any account that currently have an open opportunity with us. The infobar welcomes them to our website and encourages them to connect with their rep, dynamically inserting their company name and the name of the sales representative handling their account. Here’s an example:

ABM accounts

If the prospect clicks through on the infobar, they are presented with a new form asking for some basic information (first and last name, email address and phone number – which, by the way, is pre-filled if already known). Once submitted, this form triggers an alert to the sales rep in charge of the account letting them know about the inquiry.

ABM accounts

Results

While form submits with this campaign aren’t too frequent, the campaign has led to further discovery and opportunities with key target accounts. We’ve also determined that prospects who have seen the infobar have a much higher conversion rate (downloading an asset, requesting a demo) and engagement rate (time on site, pages viewed) than a typical website visitor. We’ve actually observed a 8.3% conversion rate for visitors who viewed the infobar campaign which is nearly triple our average website conversion rate. So just recognizing and acknowledging known, active prospects on the site appears to influence their level of engagement.

Behind the Scenes

This campaign is powered by our bi-directional integration between Evergage and Salesforce. Evergage regularly pulls in account and contact data from Salesforce and uses that data in real time. Also, when a visitor submits a form on our website, Evergage pushes any net new data they’ve entered back into Salesforce.

We are able to identify each visitor’s company when they land on the site either from their input on any of our website forms or through reverse IP lookup using Evergage’s B2B Detect feature. This also gives us the ability to pull in firmographic data (revenue, industry, number of employees, etc.) that can be used to personalize visitor experiences.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t make sense to provide accounts with a personalized experience when they’re talking with your sales team, but then treat them like strangers when they land on your site. We believe B2B companies should broaden their ABM programs to ensure they aren’t ignoring this important group of prospects.

To learn more about how Evergage can help you recognize accounts with open opportunities or other special characteristics, request a demo today.  

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Zach Skole
Personalization Stats and Trends: How Does Your Organization Compare? https://www.evergage.com/blog/personalization-stats-and-trends-how-does-your-organization-compare/ Tue, 26 Feb 2019 14:36:30 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=48195





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For the last five years, Evergage has conducted an annual study in conjunction with Researchscape International to examine organizations’ perceptions, usage levels and future plans around personalization. We just launched our sixth annual survey to uncover how attitudes and usage have evolved over the last year, and we’d like to invite you to participate and benefit from the findings!

The survey will take about 5-7 minutes to complete, and when you include your valid business email address, you will receive early access to our final report. All respondents will get early access to the findings and be entered into a drawing for a GoPro plus cool accessories! The only qualification for the survey is that you are a marketer or are involved in your company’s digital marketing, e-commerce or customer experience efforts.

In the meantime, here’s a quick reminder of what we learned last year:

Marketers value (and use) personalization

Marketers agree that personalization is important to the overall customer experience: it advances relationships and customers expect it. But they aren’t just paying lip service to personalization — most are using personalization in some form across channels.

  • The vast majority (98%) of marketers agree that personalization helps to advance customer relationships
  • Three quarters (74%) claim personalization has a “strong” or “extremely strong” impact on customer relationships
  • 88% state that they believe their customers and prospects expect a personalized experience
  • 92% of marketers are using personalization in some way, with email (77%) and website (52%) topping the list as the most-personalized channels

But there is room for improvement in their efforts

Marketers often hold themselves to a high standard when it comes to their customer experiences, so it’s no surprise that they aren’t living up to those standards with their personalization efforts just yet. Dissatisfaction stems from challenges accessing the right data and insights and connecting channels to deliver a consistent and relevant experience from one touchpoint to the next.

  • Only 12% of marketers are “very” or “extremely” satisfied in the level of personalization in their marketing efforts
  • More than half (65%) of marketers give their personalization efforts a grade of C or lower
  • Half (55%) of marketers don’t feel they have sufficient data and insights for effective personalization
  • 46% of marketers have a few channels connected, while 27% have no connections
  • 52% rate their organization’s personalization maturity level as “limited,” and only 8% rate it as “advanced”

Nevertheless, they are still seeing success and investing in personalization

Even though they feel they have some work to do with their personalization programs, they are still realizing measurable benefits from them. As a result, they’re continuing to invest in personalization. The majority even wish that personalization was an even bigger priority in their organizations than it currently is.

  • 87% report a measurable lift from their personalization efforts, while half (54%) experience a lift of more than 10%
  • The vast majority of organizations (97%) planned to maintain or increase their personalization budgets in 2018
  • More than three-quarters of respondents (77%) believed personalization should be a
    bigger priority in their organization than it currently is – up 4 points from 2017 and
    13 points from 2016

Final Thoughts

After that brief look back at last year’s trends, we’re excited to see what companies are seeing and doing this year. Participate in this year’s survey so you can see how your personalization efforts compare to others in 2019.

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Katie Sweet
Planning for Personalization: Getting Your Strategy and Execution Right https://www.evergage.com/blog/planning-for-personalization-getting-your-strategy-and-execution-right/ Thu, 21 Feb 2019 14:42:27 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=48150





Keep on reading: Planning for Personalization: Getting Your Strategy and Execution Right]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/planning-for-personalization-getting-your-strategy-and-execution-right/

Planning for any kind of business initiative can be difficult. You have a clear vision of your end goal, but what do you need to do to get there? Executing personalization in your organization is no different. Personalization can have a tremendous impact on your business, but it can be overwhelming to think about how to get to your end goal: delivering relevant experiences to your customers – across channels – to improve engagement, conversions and loyalty.

To help you get started with personalization, Evergage hosts a “Planning for Personalization” webinar each year. This year, Karl Wirth and Andy Zimmerman (Evergage CEO and CMO, respectively) walked through a great framework for approaching personalization strategy and execution. In this blog post, I’ll describe the framework, but be sure to watch the webinar replay to get more detail and see many examples of personalization in action.

Strategy

The best way to approach personalization is to first have a strategy. You can certainly launch a campaign or two without a clear strategy initially (such as sending out a few personalized emails, adding product recommendations to your cart page, etc.), but ultimately you should aim to work toward the bigger picture.

Each company will approach its personalization strategy in its own way, but if you’re struggling for a place to start, begin by outlining your why’s, who’s, where’s and what’s.

Why

Why do you want to personalize in the first place? What are you trying to accomplish? Start by answering this question at the broadest level by outlining your general goals for personalization. Do you want to increase conversions? Improve engagement? Increase average order size? Decrease bounce rates? Drive more leads? Increase retention or loyalty? These high-level goals will likely align with your general marketing or even your overall business goals — so they should already be top-of-mind for you.

Once you’ve thought about your goals for personalization in general, consider your specific and measurable goals for this year or even this quarter. For example, maybe you want to increase email sign-ups by 5% or increase repeat buyers by 30%. When you’re clear about what your measurable goals are, you’ll be able to chart the course for using personalization to get there.

Who

Next, consider your audience — the “who.” What types of people do you want to speak differently to? Prospects and customers? Loyal shoppers and first-time visitors? Visitors from target accounts or target industries? Visitors with different demographics or locations? Think through who your visitors are and what meaningful differences exist between them — that will be the basis of your segmentation and rule-based campaigns.

Then think about the differences between individuals. Each person has his own preferences for brands, categories, topics, colors, prices, authors, etc. Each person is also at a different stage of the funnel and each will respond differently to various promotions. Think about those types of differences — they will be the basis of your 1-to-1 machine learning-driven campaigns.

Where

Next, consider where you plan to leverage personalization. Start by thinking broadly about the channels you currently use to interact with customers. Your website? Mobile app? Emails? In your store? Branch location? Any channel where you regularly communicate is a likely candidate for personalization.

Once you’ve thought about that, you can get a little more granular and start thinking about different points of interaction. Retailers have their homepages, PDPs, category pages, cart pages, triggered emails, newsletter emails, etc. Technology or finance companies have their homepages, blog pages, landing pages, forms, salespeople, newsletter emails, event promotion emails, etc.

Deciding which aspects of the buyer’s experience you’d like to personalize will help you get on the right track going forward.

What

Finally, think about what you want to say to the people you identified in the channels you identified to accomplish the objectives you identified.

For example, do you want to recommend content or products? Categories or brands? Do you want to personalize the navigation or search results? Do you want to select the right promotion or offer for each person? Do you want to promote events to specific geolocations or webinars to people with specific interests? Think broadly about the types of experiences you’d like to deliver and start making a list.

Execution

Once you’ve worked out the why’s, who’s, where’s and what’s of your strategy, you can turn your attention to execution. For each campaign, make sure you can understand, decide, engage and measure.

Understand

Before you can deliver any relevant experience to anyone, you have to understand what’s relevant to that person. In the digital world, that understanding is achieved with data. For each campaign, identify which data sources you need to effectively identify the experience that works best for each person.

If you’re planning to promote an event to website visitors within a certain region, for instance, you need to be able to identify each person’s geolocation. But if you want to deliver product recommendations individually tailored to each person’s tastes in categories, brands and colors, you’ll need to be able to track in-depth behavioral data.

Decide

Next, each personalization campaign needs to be able to decide what to show or change for the target audience members. This is done using rules or algorithms. Rules are manual — you decide which experience to deliver to which group of people. With algorithms, you put the decision in the hands of a machine (according to your parameters) to sift through all the data available to pick the best option for each person. You’ll want to use rules, algorithms or, most likely, a combination of both in your campaigns.  

Engage

Once a decision about what personalized experience to deliver is made, the campaign then needs to instantly engage the target audience. This is where everything comes together. Make sure you find a solution that allows you to configure your campaigns to suit your specific needs for each campaign. You’ll want to be able to ensure you’re reaching the right group or individual with the right creative in a given channel – all in real time.

Measure

Finally, you’ll want to measure the impact of each campaign. Ideally, you should set up a control and a test experience so that you can identify if a campaign drives lift in your key metrics. You’ll want to look at a few different metrics for most campaigns. Clickthroughs, conversions, average order value, bounce rate, email subscriptions, time on site, articles read, etc. are all common metrics to measure.

Example: Category Recommendations

Finally, let’s look at a quick example. As one of its many personalization campaigns, retailer Carhartt opted to display recommendations for product categories on its homepage.

With this campaign, the categories a person sees vary based on their specific preferences, as in this example:

planning for personalization

Let’s explore the strategy and execution of this specific campaign:

Strategy:

  • Why: Increase number of cross-category purchasers. Carhartt shoppers tend to be creatures of habit who buy the same products over and over again. Carhartt was looking to encourage shoppers to explore more categories.
  • Who: All shoppers, with a specific focus on cross-category shoppers and shoppers who have purchased only one category.
  • Where: Homepage.
  • What: Category banners (see image above).

Execution:

  • Understand: To execute this campaign, Carhartt needed to be able to understand visitor and customer category-level behavior and purchases.
  • Decide: Carhartt decided to set up an algorithm to deliver machine learning-driven recommendations at the category level.
  • Engage: Carhartt launched this campaign on its website via Evergage’s personalization and customer data platform.
  • KPIs: Clickthroughs, purchases, average order value, and revenue per visitor.

Final Thoughts

Delivering successful personalized experiences hinges on your ability to set a solid strategy and execute it well. To learn more about how to accomplish this, watch the full webinar replay.

And to learn more about how Evergage can help you get up and running with personalization this year, request a demo today.

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Katie Sweet
Prep for Your Marketing Emails Like You Prep for a Job Interview https://www.evergage.com/blog/prep-for-your-marketing-emails-like-you-prep-for-a-job-interview/ Tue, 19 Feb 2019 13:35:54 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=48080





Keep on reading: Prep for Your Marketing Emails Like You Prep for a Job Interview]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/prep-for-your-marketing-emails-like-you-prep-for-a-job-interview/

When was the last time you went into a job interview without doing any research? Never, right?

Of course not. When you prepare for an interview, you visit the company’s website, download a case study or review other content, familiarize yourself with the industry and the company’s competitors, etc.

It’s been said before and it’s a cliche for a reason: you only get one shot to make a first impression.

In today’s day and age, with infinite data at hand, content to consume, social posts to scope, and third-party reviews to peruse, walking into an interview without any knowledge of the potential employer isn’t going to cut it — regardless of your experience. Why would a company want to hire you if you don’t seem to know anything about its business?

The same can be said for marketers and their audiences. As an email marketer, when was the last time you sent an email without doing any research on your customer? Today? Yikes! Why would a shopper choose to do business with a company that doesn’t seem to know the first thing about him?

In this blog post, I’ll walk through two different examples of companies that sent me either completely generic or irrelevant emails, rather than leverage information they should already know to engage me. I’ll show you what they sent me and offer suggestions for making the experience better. Let’s dive in!  

On-Site Behavior and Engagement

I recently spent a ton of time on the Nike website, browsing through many different Nike gym bags. I even added one to my cart so I could come back to it later, but left the site to shop around. Before I left, I decided to sign up to receive the company’s emails.

Later, I received this welcome email:

relevant emails

Notice that the imagery is generic and the CTA is Shop Now. E-commerce sites are in the business of selling stuff (and sooner rather than later), but this CTA ignores that fact that I have already been shopping on the site very recently.

What do you think would happen to its conversion rate if Nike sent out welcome emails like this instead?

relevant emails

Notice that the CTA now suggests that I “jump back in” where I left off in my latest browsing session on the site. It also recommends a few products I might like in my current favorite category (gym bags) in the colors I was browsing (black and gray).

With its initial welcome email, Nike wasted the opportunity to demonstrate that it understood my needs and entice me with products that are relevant to me. By personalizing the content of the email, it would be a lot more effective.

Real-time Weather

I’ve spent time browsing lots of men’s dress shirts in the past 30 days on the Nordstrom website. I’m also an email subscriber and have made purchases in Nordstrom stores in the past. With that in mind, the company should at the very least know that I’m interested in men’s clothing.

With spring around the corner, I understand retailers want to push new arrivals. But this is a recent email I received from Nordstrom:

relevant emails

I have never done anything to indicate that I am interested in women’s sandals. Plus, I live in Boston and we just got several inches of snow this week. Instead of sending this content to everyone on its list, Nordstrom should be personalizing the content of its emails to each person. It should be able to identify my location and my past browsing behavior, so it could send me something like this:

relevant emails

Notice that the image is of a men’s shoe, which I am more likely to appreciate given my history of shopping for men’s clothes on the site. And the “winter adventures” message feels much more timely than a sandal since there’s snow on the ground where I live.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re interviewing for a new job or trying to engage a prospect with an email, it’s all about doing your homework. Marketers need to know that everyone today expects a more relevant and personalized experience.

Luckily, with personalization technology, email marketers don’t have to send irrelevant emails anymore. They can learn about their shoppers and customers and send individualized emails to each one of them.

And don’t worry, you don’t need to write a million business rules to ensure each person receives a relevant email. You can leverage machine learning to send personalized emails at scale. Request a demo today to learn how Evergage can help. #MakeEmailRelevantAgain

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LB Wales IV
Customer Data Platform (CDP) Stats You Can’t Ignore https://www.evergage.com/blog/customer-data-platform-cdp-stats-you-cant-ignore/ Thu, 14 Feb 2019 15:45:19 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=48068





Keep on reading: Customer Data Platform (CDP) Stats You Can’t Ignore]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/customer-data-platform-cdp-stats-you-cant-ignore/

The buzz around the Customer Data Platform (CDP) technology category has exploded in recent years. I don’t think a day goes by when I don't run into an article that mentions CDPs (although I am a tech marketer). But as with all new martech classifications, there is a lot of confusion about what a CDP is and how it differs from other marketing technologies. As you continue on your journey to understand the CDP, identify whether your company needs one, and determine how it will interact with your other solutions, we’ve compiled some customer data platform stats that speak for themselves.

Let’s get into the numbers!

There’s a Definite Need for the CDP

The CDP Institute defines a CDP as “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems." There’s a need for a unified customer database that can act as an easily accessible single source of truth and allow marketers to truly understand each individual customer — especially as marketers have been struggling to connect customer data across their organizations for a long time.

  • 52% of marketing leaders responsible for data and analytics cite data management, data integration and formatting as some of their most time-consuming activities [Gartner]
  • 46% of marketers only have data from a few of their channels connected, while over a quarter (27%) do not have any channels connected [Researchscape]
  • One third (31%) of marketers say that “access to data” is a major obstacle to making personalization a greater priority in their organizations [Researchscape]
  • 39% of marketers struggle to integrate offline and online data [Forrester]
  • 93% of executives expect that using more customer data in their campaigns will “create a noticeable shift in their ability to meet disruptive and competitive challenges” [Forbes]

The Category Has Seen Tremendous Growth

We’ve all seen Scott Brinker’s marketing technology landscape graphic, and the 2018 edition shows 64 CDP vendors. The CDP Institute claims that the number of vendors grew considerably last year (so we’re on track to see more logos in the CDP section of Brinker’s graphic this spring).

  • 29 new vendors emerged in the industry during 2018 — according to the CDP Institute: “an increasing number of vendors offer products that were originally developed as CDPs, rather than older products that have been repositioned as CDPs after starting as something else” [CDP Institute]
  • Estimated total CDP market size grew more than 50% during 2018 to reach $740 million [CDP Institute]
  • Industry revenues are expected to reach $1 billion in 2019 [CDP Institute]

CDPs have Piqued Marketer’s Interest... and Budgets

Of course, if the CDP industry is growing, someone has to be buying. And as we all know by now, marketers are definitely showing interest in CDPs. They’ve been submitting inquiries to analyst firms to help them learn more about the category, and they’re deciding to invest in the technology.

  • In 2017, Gartner client inquiries about CDPs quadrupled over the previous year, and inquiries doubled between the first half of 2017 and the first half of 2018 [Gartner]
  • A total of 78% of the companies survey by Forbes either have, or are developing, a customer data platform [Forbes]

CDPs are Making an Impact

It’s still early to fully determine the results marketers are generating with their CDPs, but there are some early indicators of success. A study by Forbes Insights of over 400 marketing leaders found that nearly half of marketers that use a CDP believe that it helps drive customer loyalty — while a study by The Relevancy Group identified the top tactics enabled by CDPs in the graph below.

  • 44% of organizations surveyed by Forbes Insights report that a customer data platform is helping drive customer loyalty [Forbes]
  • 62% of companies that leverage a CDP use it to enable individualized personalization in email, 55% for advertising and 53% for real-time targeting [The Relevancy Group]

customer data platform stats

Final Thoughts

Clearly, you can’t ignore the potential value of a CDP. But our advice is to avoid getting caught up in the buzzword. Do your research and determine if your organization needs a CDP (if you don’t use one already), but don’t lose sight of your actual business needs. Don’t just get a CDP to check the box. Instead, ask yourself what challenges and objectives your company has relative to your customer engagement strategies. Then assess what functionality and data you’re lacking with your current systems to help you determine if a CDP could help.

To advance your knowledge of CDPs, be sure to check out this white paper, which provides clarity on the three levels of CDPs and the functionality and value they deliver at each level. And request a demo today to explore whether Evergage could be the right CDP for your organization.

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Katie Sweet
B2B Personalization Strategy: Treat the Buyer’s Journey Like a Bingo Card https://www.evergage.com/blog/b2b-personalization-strategy-treat-the-buyers-journey-like-a-bingo-card/ Tue, 12 Feb 2019 15:45:29 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=48046





Keep on reading: B2B Personalization Strategy: Treat the Buyer’s Journey Like a Bingo Card]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/b2b-personalization-strategy-treat-the-buyers-journey-like-a-bingo-card/

In a blog post I wrote at the end of last year, I explained how to prioritize your personalization campaign ideas so you can achieve the quickest time to value. This is a good approach to ensure your efforts deliver an ROI, but you’ll also want to think more broadly about the buyer’s journey at the same time. If all of your campaigns are at the top of the funnel, even if they are effective campaigns that deliver value and drive people to the middle of the funnel, all your hard work is for nothing if you don’t also drive people from the middle to the bottom of the funnel.

You want to ensure that you deliver a relevant and engaging experience at all stages of the funnel so that no matter which stage a prospect falls into, he or she will find material that helps them reach their ultimate purchase decision.

In this blog post, I’ll describe a fun framework for helping ensure you have the right mix of campaigns to cover the whole buyer’s journey.

The Bingo Card Approach

Think of the prospect journey as a bingo card: the columns (letters) are the key stages in the journey, while the numbers are the plays or use cases that you can take from your prioritization matrix. Thinking about the journey as a bingo card is fun, and it reflects the fact that you are working to check off each of the plays and that the journey is not always sequential.

By the way, here’s what a bingo card looks like (in the US, that is, although the analogy is equally applicable to UK bingo cards).  

b2b personalization strategy

At the most basic level, we might classify the key stages of the journey as “Top of Funnel,” “Middle of Funnel” and “Bottom of Funnel.” Within each stage, we have goals that we are trying to meet. At the top of the funnel, you might be trying to reduce bounce rates or increase engagement with blog content. In the middle of the funnel, you likely want to encourage visitors to sign up for your emails or download a piece of content. And at the bottom of funnel, you probably want to get visitors to request a demo or start free trial.

By understanding your goals of each stage, you can select campaigns that will meet that goal and drive people to the next stage of the funnel.

Campaigns Ideas

Personalization campaigns can be targeted either to segments (visitors in a specific industry, interested in a certain topic, or who came in through a certain ad campaign, etc.) or to individuals using individualized, machine-learning-based recommendations. Ideally, a personalized experience isn’t very obvious. Instead, you want to guide visitors to the next stage of the journey in a way that feels natural. Any messages they see should make them feel comfortable and reassure them that they are making the right decisions.

At the beginning of the funnel, you may want to talk to the visitor based on the industry she is in. As she lands on the site and begins her journey, you can show her images and copy that relate to her industry. For example, if she works in technology, she could see a hero image with racks and servers. If she is from a medical or biotech organization, the same hero area might show a doctor with patients. These are very subtle changes, but they let the visitor know that your site understands them, and this encourages them to continue their research.  

In the middle of the funnel, you can track the pages and content she has consumed on your site to present her with a relevant case study. She has a much higher chance of reading the case when it is aligned with her interests and presented at the right stage in her journey.

Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, you could present her with a message to get a demo or get in touch with the appropriate salesperson when her actions indicate she’s ready to take the next step.

As you’re planning your bingo card, think about the needs visitors typically have at each stage of the funnel, and plan campaigns around how and when to address those needs with personalized content.

Abandonment Campaigns

You’ll also want to add a few abandonment campaigns to your bingo card. These campaigns encourage people to rethink the decision to leave your site or a key page and drive them to the next stage of the funnel in the moment. These are much less subtle than your other personalization campaigns, but they act as a last-ditch effort to re-engage a visitor.  

For example, you may deliver an exit intent message on the first page a person visits if it looks like he is going to bounce from the site before viewing another page. This can be done by tracking their mouse movement. If you can get just a small percentage of the people who are about to leave your site to engage with another piece of content, then you are widening the funnel.

At the other end of the journey, you can leverage a form abandonment campaign. If someone is in the process of filling out a form, but he goes to another page, hesitates, or starts to exit the process, you can present him with a message highlighting the benefits of completing the form (e.g. to get a demo or a free trial). If you can get 10% of those people to reconsider and complete the form, you’ll drive many more conversions.

Of course, the more personal you can make each of these “last-ditch effort” campaigns, the more likely they are to make an impact on the viewer. For example, if a first-time visitor came in through an ad campaign around a specific topic, your exit message can recommend content in that topic. Or, your form abandonment campaign can highlight the benefits of your solution to that visitor’s industry or area of focus.  

With all of these campaign ideas, your bingo card may look something like this:

b2b personalization strategy

Example "Bingo Card" with abandonment campaigns italicized.

Summary

My advice to B2B marketers pursuing a personalization initiative is to keep evolving.

Once you have launched one campaign for each of the stages of the buyer’s journey, go for a second or third — just like filling up a bingo card! But unlike bingo, you don’t have a limited number of squares. You can add as many squares to the card as you’d like, continually finding ways to enhance the experience and increase visitor engagement and conversions.

Also, be sure to iterate on your successful campaigns. Analyze which prospects are responding well to a campaign and which are not. Further segment your audience and change the messaging for those who don’t respond to find something that will resonate with them. With the bases covered, you can take the time to optimize and continuously improve your prospects’ experiences...and shout “BINGO” each time one converts!

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Dave Parsons