Evergage - Feed https://www.evergage.comf Real-time behavior-based personalization Wed, 08 Jul 2020 15:15:05 +0000 en hourly 1 Questions to Ask When Planning for Personalization (5 W’s and 1 H) https://www.evergage.com/blog/questions-to-ask-when-planning-for-personalization-5-ws-and-1-h/ Wed, 08 Jul 2020 15:14:05 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=58290





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Thinking about deploying personalization or strengthening your program? You may be looking to improve your digital experiences and take advantage of personalization’s proven benefits, related to increasing loyalty, conversions and more. When you treat your audience members like the individuals they are, these benefits often soon follow.

Now more than ever, technology enables you to deliver relevant messages, offers and experiences to your audiences across touchpoints, and automatically trigger next best actions, all at the 1-to-1 level.

It takes some coordination and planning to establish the foundation for success. Especially for companies just getting started, it’s helpful to ask – and, of course, answer – a variety of questions. We’ll look at the 6 key questions as they relate to your personalization planning efforts.

WHO…

  • are we targeting? Think about who you want to reach with your various personalization efforts. This will impact your campaigns and the type of personalization employed (e.g., rules-based, machine-learning-driven or both). In some cases, your targets will be audience segments, personas or industries. You may also want to distinguish between customers and prospects, and new vs. returning visitors. Many times, companies also look to map recommendations and experiences to each individual – and that person’s unique behaviors, history, preferences, stage in the buyer’s journey, etc. – to drive deeper connections.
  •  is involved? Who will help? The size of your company and your marketing organization – along with the channels and touchpoints where you’ll be deploying personalization – will impact the size of your team. We’ve also seen many companies, particularly large organizations, establish an internal Personalization Management Office (PMO). PMOs function as the main personalization strategy, solution and technical resource for the company – serving as the main point of coordination across business divisions. 

WHAT…

  • skills do we need? You likely already have some people on your team who can help implement your personalization strategy – including in roles such as web marketing, email marketing, product marketing, merchandising and analytics. If your personalization solution doesn’t require coding or the involvement of large teams, you can likely leverage the skills and talents of your existing staff. As you dive into more sophisticated strategies, you may want to hire additional resources – such as a director of personalization, to maximize the impact of your efforts. The ideal candidate would have a background in personalization campaigns, as well as experience with other digital marketing campaigns too.
  • content and creative do we need? You probably already have a lot of the content assets, geared toward different personas, industries, etc., within your organization. Still, there may be some gaps, and it’s good to identify these early on, and allocate resources toward their development. For example, if you want to create multiple homepage experiences for different audience segments, you’ll need to write new copy and design new images.
  • data sources will we use? Data underpins a successful personalization strategy. Behavioral data, attribute data, explicit “zero-party” data and third-party data, related to your customers and prospects, will likely fuel your efforts. (See more information on those data types in this recent article.) Organizations often amass and collect that data across their channels, but it can be siloed across teams and systems. Start thinking early about bringing your cross-channel data together into a central system, so it can be part of each person’s unified customer profile (UCP), used to trigger in-the-moment experiences. Even if you’re only deploying personalization in a limited number of channels (for example, just email and in-person), it’s still helpful to collect and synthesize data from other channels (e.g., web and mobile app behavioral data), to determine the most relevant and timely experiences for each individual. 
  • campaigns will we start with? Go for some easy (but still important) projects and wins, such as reducing your homepage bounce rate with a dynamic hero area or boosting clickthrough rates by tailoring calls-to-action. Rather than attempting to boil the ocean, it’s often easiest to start in a single channel, demonstrate success, and then expand the scope and sophistication of your efforts.
  • resources are available to me? It can be helpful to see how other companies in your industry (and even outside your industry) are using personalization, for some inspiration. You can also mine customer forums and knowledge-bases, blogs like Evergage’s, on-demand webinars (like this one) and eBooks. Evergage’s full-length book, One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning, is available as a complimentary download, and has information for novices and advanced users alike.

WHY…

  • are we deploying personalization? In other words, what are our goals? Though it’s toward the bottom in this article (because: who, what, where, when, why…), this is actually the most important question to ask – and the first one you should tackle as you begin your efforts. Document your goals with personalization (e.g., improving engagement, increasing email sign-ups, driving more revenue, optimizing conversion rates, etc.), and tie them into larger, corporate goals. Keep these goals front of mind as you evaluate and plan potential campaigns.

HOW…

  • do we know if our campaigns are working? Many platforms natively include A/B testing and multivariate testing capabilities, so you can evaluate your campaigns against a control, measure lift and optimize your efforts. 
  • can we measure success? Think about the goals you set and how you can measure them. For example, do you have a method for scoring customer engagement? How do you measure lift? Is revenue tracking tied to the success of your website? Mapping out the analytics that are essential to supporting your personalization initiatives will enable you to put the reporting aspects in place starting from Day One.

Good luck on your personalization journey! To find out how Evergage can help, request a demo today.

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Sara Card
Case Study: Sweepstakes Company Uses “Smart,” Personalized Surveys to Enrich Knowledge About Users https://www.evergage.com/blog/case-study-sweepstakes-company-uses-smart-personalized-surveys-to-enrich-knowledge-about-users/ Wed, 01 Jul 2020 14:57:33 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=58287





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When you’re on a website and see a survey, does it draw you in and engage you – even adding value to your experience? Although most don’t do this, well-executed survey campaigns should!

The goal of a survey should be to engage the respondent and improve his or her future (and even current) brand experience. As Evergage’s CMO wrote in CMSWire, “taking CX [customer experience] surveys should be a microcosm of what a good customer experience is.”

PCH.com, the web destination for Publishers Clearing House, gets that. The sweepstakes company – well known for its famous Prize Patrol, which surprises winners with oversized checks – is using online and mobile surveys to better understand and serve its users. We’re pleased to share a new case study, detailing the company’s successful approach.

Frustrated with clunky, labor-intensive survey tools, PCH, a longtime Evergage client, turned to  Evergage SmartSurveys instead. SmartSurveys is our voice-of-the-customer (VoC) tool for creating and deploying surveys, and using the responses to improve visitors’ experiences, even in real time. For years, PCH has used Evergage’s real-time personalization platform to deliver cohesive, cross-channel experiences and offers, at the 1-to-1 level, and was glad to consolidate its survey needs with Evergage as well.

PCH provides a great example of how to use surveys to:

  • Communicate with specific users – Previously, PCH was unable to customize surveys with questions relevant to specific segments. Now, the company can show surveys to both broad and highly targeted segments, based on someone’s affinities and behaviors, and also personalize follow-up questions based on the responses.
  • Enrich its knowledge of visitors – PCH deploys about 30 surveys per year, netting more than 150,000 responses that illuminate the needs and preferences of its user base. Each individual’s response is immediately pulled into that person’s unified customer profile (UCP) in Evergage, as additional actionable data points for personalization.
  • Develop best practices – PCH’s team shares tips and tricks for maximizing the power of surveys. Among its advice: keep surveys short, to minimize disruption to the user experience and, when possible, keep them fun! PCH typically doesn’t survey new site visitors, who may still be finding their way around, and also recommends thanking users for their feedback.
  • Plan for the future – Moving forward, PCH hopes to use even more features of Evergage SmartSurveys – including the ability to immediately trigger highly relevant experiences (such as displaying the best-fit sweepstakes) based on the survey responses a visitor just provided, in the moment and while that person is still engaging.

We encourage you to check out the full case study for more details. And to find out whether Evergage can help with your surveying – as well as broader personalization – needs, request a demo today.

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Sara Card
Changes in Personalization – and Personalization During Change https://www.evergage.com/blog/changes-in-personalization-and-personalization-during-change/ Thu, 25 Jun 2020 14:34:10 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=58277





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I love to shop (and I love clothes!). I’ve found, though, that one size never really fits all – any more than one recipe will satisfy all palates or one gift will excite all people.

When I came to Evergage, I saw that “one size fits all” also doesn’t work in the digital realm. Every prospect – who visits your site, uses your app, opens your emails, calls into your call center, uses your chat, enters your store/branch, engages with you on social, etc. – is a unique individual and deserves to be treated that way. What’s more, people often expect to be treated that way, across all their business interactions – as we’ve been accustomed to how helpful personalization can be in our personal lives (thank you, Netflix, Spotify, etc.). 

Of course, deploying a single standard (i.e., uniform and generic) experience used to be the norm for all companies and marketers, but technology has evolved to move far beyond that, and it continues to advance. Now, amidst the turbulence of COVID-19, digital experiences must also become more adaptable to meet customers’ changing needs. 

It’s interesting to explore changes in personalization over time – along with ways that personalization is used during times of change. 

First, Some History

We’ve come a long way since customer experience luminaries Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D, urged marketers to dream of individualized digital communications in their seminal book, The One to One Future, published in 1993. They planted the seed – predicting that “using the new media of the one-to-one future, you will be able to communicate directly with consumers, individually, rather than shouting at them, in groups.”

Still, nearly two decades after their prediction, shouting at groups remained the predominant form of “personalization.” For a long time, online personalization created 1-to-many experiences: that is, one experience delivered to many people based on their shared characteristics (e.g., first-time visitors, repeat buyers, loyalty program members, etc.) and deployed via manually created rules. True – rules can be applied to broad or even very narrow segments. But the more targeted and relevant you want to get, the more rules you need to make – introducing greater (sometimes unmanageable) complexity and requiring significant time investments (for creating and testing rules, and unraveling them to make even minor adjustments). For a long time, fully personalized, unique, 1-to-1 experiences remained beyond reach. 

That unattainability has dissipated though, thanks, in large part, to machine-learning algorithms and real-time processing. Machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence (AI), instantly processes vast quantities of customer and prospect data, and uses predictive analytics to determine the most relevant experience – in real time, at the individual level and, importantly, at scale.

Check out our CEO’s book, One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning, released in its second edition late last year, and his blog post on personalization over the last decade for additional history and context.

Changes Today

Advances and other changes continue to shape the industry today. Some of these forces of change include:

Machine Learning – As mentioned, personalization is becoming increasingly advanced as more and more marketers harness the power of machine learning. Our recent research data, collected with Researchscape International, shows the technology’s accelerating growth – with 26% of marketers employing it to power their personalization efforts in 2018, 40% in 2019 and 46% today. Oftentimes, we see marketers use both rules and machine learning for a multifaceted personalization strategy – delivering individualized experiences within specific segments. Marketers also often look for platforms with a “white-box,” human-guided approach to machine learning – where they’re not ceding control and can get insights into (and the ability to adapt) the algorithms that power their campaigns. 

It’s worth noting, too, that machine learning’s impact isn’t static. Algorithms get smarter the more data they’re fed. Plus, more sophisticated forms of machine learning exist today, to deliver experiences with optimal outcomes for prospects and the companies selling to them alike.

Cross-Channel Experiences – Being able to provide personalization across touchpoints is critical for delivering smooth, integrated and cohesive experiences that build on each other, enabling individuals to “pick up where they left off.” While there’s still a lot of progress to be made here (our survey data shows that nearly half of organizations have just a few of their channels connected, and roughly a quarter don’t have any connected), there have been steady improvements over the years. Unifying cross-channel data (and, as a result, customer journeys) remains a focal area for many organizations, impelled in part by customer expectations.

And progress has been made – as more companies, for example, integrate email and website experiences using personalized open-time and triggered emails. More organizations are also deploying personalized, consistent messaging across their channels (e.g., carrying email and SMS offers over to the website experience; see an example here) and integrating next best action decisioning across their touchpoints (e.g., triggering a message to a call center agent based on someone’s online activity or encouraging a customer at an ATM to complete an application started online).

Adapting to a Pandemic We can’t talk about changes to personalization and digital experiences today without discussing the current climate and changes it has wrought. With the sudden emergence of COVID-19, uncertainty enveloped everyday life, at both a personal and business level, and abrupt change is still a regular occurance. 

With many in-person channels suspended or severely curtailed, these times have actually accelerated the importance of a digital-first business posture for many organizations. Digital experiences are often the only way to engage customers now, and it’s important to use them to foster meaningful, timely, sensitive and helpful customer interactions. As a result, organizations are relying on personalization during this time to reimagine their customer connections for an online-only world. Even in the absence of face-to-face conversations and business interactions, 1-to-1 personalized digital experiences enable customers to feel acknowledged, validated and “seen” by the brands they care about. 

As companies strive to meet customers’ rapidly changing needs with immediacy, compassion and fluidity, sophisticated machine learning also plays a role. For example, to present experiences that reflect what a customer needs right now, not what the person wanted a week or two ago, organizations are using “contextual bandits” – which can rapidly detect and adapt to changing behaviors to recommend relevant items.

Though it’s difficult right now to look too far ahead, when the pandemic wanes, purchasing patterns re-adjust, and businesses begin to find their footing again in a more stable environment, personalization and machine learning will likewise help companies adapt to the next “new normal.”

More Change: On a Personal Note

In addition to the global changes we’ve all faced and struggled with, I’ve also experienced a lot of unpredictability lately in my life (granted, on a much smaller scale!). Since I started my internship at Evergage, it seems like a whirlwind of changes have tossed me in every direction! I began working in Evergage’s office outside of Boston in January, transitioned to working from home in March and will already be wrapping up my internship today! 

During my short time here, I’ve witnessed some incredible changes in the industry – including and notably, Evergage’s acquisition by Salesforce. The addition of Evergage’s real-time, 1-to-1 solution to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud reinforces the importance of personalization, and will allow more customers to be treated as the unique individuals they are. I’ve also seen a continued reliance on and evolution in how companies use personalization technology to meet customers’ changing needs and help customers traverse trying times.

A lot can be learned during periods of change. My time at Evergage has been a journey, and it’s one I can definitely say I’ll never forget! Characterized by change, this experience has shown me the importance of being able to evolve – a lesson that’s also at the heart of delivering personalized experiences.

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Camille Ruykhaver
Overcoming Personalization Challenges https://www.evergage.com/blog/overcoming-personalization-challenges/ Tue, 16 Jun 2020 14:05:21 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=58274





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Marketers are increasingly deploying personalization to improve customer interactions and take their digital experiences to the next level. Given its strong, positive impact on customer relationships, personalization may already be part of your digital strategy. But if it’s not, perhaps it’s because you don’t know how to approach personalization? Or maybe you’re just facing a roadblock? You might have questions about how to get your organization on board or be unsure of how to collect the right data to fuel your efforts. Nowadays, you also may be trying to implement personalization with fewer resources or with your team members all working from home. 

We recently published our 7th annual Trends in Personalization survey report, in conjunction with Researchscape International – detailing how marketers view and use personalization, along with benefits realized and challenges experienced. 

Among the key personalization challenges that marketers reported were:

  • Insufficient data and insights (56%)
  • Lack of knowledge and skills (43%)
  • Lack of organizational alignment (38%)

The good news, though, is that barriers like these continue to drop, as technology advances, strategies mature, and more stakeholders see and champion the value of personalization – which is even more important for companies today, as they reimagine customer connections in a predominantly digital world. 

Let’s take a look at ways to overcome each of these challenges. 

Collecting the Right Data to Fuel Your Campaigns 

First, it’s good that marketers recognize that data issues and limitations can impede personalization efforts. Think about it: when personalization is based on bad data, the outcome is poorly targeted and offbase communications… which isn’t really personalization at all! 

That begs the question, what is bad data? Data is “bad” or ineffective when it’s incorrect, outdated, inadequate (not telling the full picture) or siloed. Marketers should strive to feed “good” data into their personalization campaigns – data that’s accurate, real-time, in-depth, modeled/analyzed, centralized (often in a unified customer profile or UCP) and actionable. With UCPs, marketers can synthesize their data, bringing together information about each visitor (known or unknown) – including their cross-channel activity, history, characteristics and preferences – and activate it in real time, for effective personalization. Check out Chapter 4, “Garbage in, Garbage out,” of Evergage’s award-winning personalization book for more elements of great data for personalization – and how to get there. Our CEO also contributed an article to CMSWire, “Good Personalization Hinges on Good Data,” that’s a helpful resource.

It’s important, though, not to think you need to clean all your data before deploying personalization. That could be overwhelming! You might begin by cleaning up data and deploying personalized experiences in one channel – focusing on easy wins and mastering those before moving on to the next touchpoint. With the right technology partner and data sources, personalization is much easier. Some important data types you can tap for personalization include:

  • Behavioral data – to help you understand a person’s interests, preferences and in-the-moment intent. This type of data reflects an individual’s site-wide and app-wide behaviors, including clicks and pages viewed, along with time spent and engagement on each page (hovering, scrolling, zooming, interacting with reviews, etc.). Past behaviors and transactions should also be factored in, to form a more complete picture of each individual’s interests. 
  • Attribute data – including a person’s location, referring source, company, browser and device type. This data is often accessed from the web and from connected databases.
  • Explicit data – such as responses to strategically deployed survey questions, to supplement behavioral and attribute data.
  • Third-party data – purchased from third-party sources, and often including demographic and firmographic information.

Knowing How to Proceed

Mastering personalization knowledge and skills can take a little time. Our recent survey results show that marketers who’ve employed personalization for several years are more satisfied with their efforts than those just starting out. And that makes sense. 

But novices can still have great success with personalization, and you don’t have to go it alone. For example, you can tap:

  • Your technology partner – for help and inspiration with campaign ideas and execution, plus, of course, technology know-how. 
  • Resources – including customer forums and knowledge-bases, blogs like Evergage’s with helpful tips, on-demand webinars, articles, and Evergage’s full-length book – One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning – available as a complimentary download.
  • Content and strategy partners – who can help you devise, design and implement campaigns.
  • Machine learning – for automatically defining audience segments, predicting next best actions, and selecting and delivering 1-to-1 offers and recommendations at scale. Today, with consumer needs and preferences rapidly changing (e.g., with former shoppers of office attire now often buying athleisure wear), machine-learning algorithms like contextual bandits are able to detect changes in customer behavior and deliver appropriate recommendations on the fly. (In addition, with human-guided machine learning, marketers can have insight into and help adapt the algorithms that govern their campaigns.)

Also, of course, consider selecting a real-time personalization platform that makes your life easier! With Evergage, marketers working anywhere can rapidly devise campaigns, launch them, test them and iterate, all without the need for IT support.

Getting Your Organization Aligned and On Board 

Showing value is typically the most important thing you can do to get organizational stakeholders on board. By setting goals for your personalization campaigns, measuring results and then socializing them, it’s much easier to drive organizational alignment, overcome objections and build momentum.

This might give rise to an interesting paradox – that is, to drive more meaningful results you have to first show results, right? That’s why it’s often important to start with easy (but important) projects and wins – such as reducing your homepage bounce rate with a dynamic hero area, increasing webinar sign-ups with targeted promotions, boosting clickthrough rates by tailoring calls-to-actions, increasing email captures with a time-based sign-up form, etc. Once you’ve demonstrated value, people will likely be clamoring for you to tackle additional priorities.

In larger companies, in particular, a personalization management office (PMO) can also help streamline activities and drive alignment. A PMO acts as the main personalization strategy, solution and technical resource for an organization, serving as the point of coordination across business divisions. By having representation from multiple teams from across channels, the PMO ensures personalization goals and strategies are in sync – preventing disjointed outreach and confusion, and creating cohesive, cross-channel experiences. 

Final Thoughts

Although challenges may arise on the path to personalization (and these challenges may even be exacerbated in today’s times), these tips and approaches hopefully can provide you with tools and support to not just proceed, but succeed. Remember, when implementing personalization, rather than trying to boil the ocean, it’s often helpful to take a crawl-walk-run approach that will prepare you for more sophisticated strategies later on. With effective personalization, you’ll be able to provide unique, helpful, timely experiences along each step of your customers’ and prospects’ journeys – leading to measurable benefits like improved engagement and conversions, and stronger customer relationships. 

We’d love to help. To see if Evergage can be the right real-time personalization and interaction management platform for your company, request a demo today.

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Camille Ruykhaver
Profiles in Personalization: Analyst and Writer Geoffrey Bock https://www.evergage.com/blog/profiles-in-personalization-analyst-and-writer-geoffrey-bock/ Tue, 09 Jun 2020 14:26:20 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=58268





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We’re excited to bring you the next featured expert in our “Profiles in Personalization” series. These insights come from technology analyst and writer Geoffrey Bock

Geoff-Bock

Geoff is the principal of Bock & Company, a consultancy and research firm focused on technology innovation and the future of business in the digital age. He is an expert on content and digital experience technologies – having authored hundreds of in-depth reports, case studies and articles on their use cases and business impacts. A frequent writer for TechTarget (covering personalization, among other topics), Geoff also advises enterprises on ways to create, organize, publish and syndicate information online to build business relationships.

We’ve known Geoff for a long time as a go-to source on digital experience trends and topics. Read on for his insights and valuable advice on personalization:

Q: With so much business being conducted online only right now, what’s the role of personalization?

A: Right now, with many businesses open only through online channels, it’s important to use those channels effectively – providing visitors with high-quality digital experiences. This includes making it quick and easy for customers to find what they want, and producing insightful product recommendations, content and experiences tailored to each individual’s preferences and affinities. Personalization can help make this happen.

Post-pandemic, personalization is going to become an even more important part of companies’ branded experiences. When time is of the essence (and even when it’s not...), it’s certainly nice when an online store remembers what you bought last time.

But personalization is only one aspect of branding, and remembering past purchases is different from predicting what other things customers might want or need. Digitally savvy firms are going to map customer journeys – designing the steps that customers will take as they engage and do business. Firms will streamline some of these steps by personalizing decision-points – in many cases, employing machine learning to anticipate customers’ actions and also recommend the next best actions to take.

 Q: You’ve reported on personalization quite a lot over the years. What changes and trends have you seen that marketers should pay attention to? 

A: Personalization is becoming much more pervasive and easier to accomplish. So much of our digital identities are available online – every visit, every web page viewed, and every click is likely to have been recorded. 

Collecting data about digital events is the easy part – making sense of the data is much harder.

Marketers are going to need better tools to model personalized experiences. This begins by identifying the significant signals they should be tracking and then designing the processes for interpreting the results.

Q: What are some benefits companies can expect to achieve from personalization?

A: The anticipated business benefits of 1-to-1 marketing are rapidly coming to fruition in today’s digital age. When companies help their customers save time and get what they want at a price they can afford, firms are invariably going to increase sales. At issue is the cost of sales, the upfront investments required to deliver the personalized results. 

Companies should develop a roadmap charting a two-to-four-year plan into the digital future and then make strategic investments in light of these plans. And they should build in the agility to be prepared for unexpected events – such as the recovery from the pandemic in which firms around the world are now engaged.

Q: What’s next for the field of personalization?

A: Companies are going to need better modeling tools for transforming customer data into personalized experiences. These tools are going to help marketers recognize patterns in their data that they might not necessarily have noticed. Machine-learning algorithms, for example, are showing promise in automatically defining audience segments and continue to aid in delivering 1-to-1 personalization at scale. 

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Sara Card
How to Use Personalization to Strengthen Customer Connections https://www.evergage.com/blog/how-to-use-personalization-to-strengthen-customer-connections/ Wed, 03 Jun 2020 18:24:39 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=58261





Keep on reading: How to Use Personalization to Strengthen Customer Connections]]>
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Raise your hand if you know how to thoughtfully and successfully execute marketing campaigns in the midst of a global pandemic. 

Twelve weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic and it still feels like we are in uncharted waters. Both personally and professionally, every day presents new challenges – and at the same time, new opportunities – to demonstrate empathy, compassion, helpfulness and humanity, amidst waves of uncertainty and change. 

For e-commerce marketers (as well as others in the marketing field), this means reevaluating how you’re communicating with your prospects and customers. From the language you use in website copy to the products you promote on your homepage, there are many ways to demonstrate to your customers that you’re able to meet them where they are (which is likely quite a different place from where they were just a few months ago). 

Last week, we held a webinar with Evergage Chief Customer Officer Jonathan Ranger and e-commerce leaders Brandon Cohn from online men’s retailer Huckberry and Asim Shaikh from skincare and beauty products site Dermstore. During the discussion, the speakers examined how marketers at leading companies are changing the way they operate and using personalization to strengthen connections with their customers and prospects online. In this blog post, I highlight a couple of simple-yet-powerful use cases that were discussed and show how e-commerce marketers are responding to changing customer behavior and delivering relevant, individualized experiences in the current business climate.

Boost Newly Trending Categories 

It’s safe to say that collective shopping habits have changed quite a bit over the past few months. Products that were popular back in February might not be in such high demand now and vice versa. For example, a clothing retailer that typically deals in office attire has likely seen a shift in buyer behavior toward more comfortable, work-from-home-friendly products.

Machine-learning algorithms can detect and respond to changes like these in customer sentiment and behavior, creating relevant experiences for right now. In addition, this is a good time to use human-guided machine learning to extend the power of your algorithms. By “boosting” different product categories (that is, prioritizing them based on each individual’s behaviors and preferences, current trends and corporate objectives), businesses can communicate to their customers that they’re listening attentively and responding with care.

Then:

Then-Top-Categories

Now:

Now-Top-Categories

You can use machine-learning algorithms to adjust to and reflect customers’ current browsing and buying behaviors. 

Respond to Change Swiftly

It seemed like the work-from-home switch flipped overnight. When that happened, Huckberry, which provides men’s clothing, accessories and home goods, thought about what would provide the most value to its customers. The company decided to launch a sale dedicated to the products its customers would be looking for in that moment

As effective campaigns do, this one started with the customer in mind, enabling the team at Huckberry to remain true to the brand while also engaging customers on a deep level –  in turn, driving loyalty and business impact. Of course, and especially in times of great change, maintaining that level of agility may be easier said than done, but it goes to show that decisive action with a customer-centric point of view can really go a long way.

WFH-SALE

Huckberry used machine learning to show relevant product recommendations to engaged customers (via email and online) as part of its work-from-home-sale campaign.

Engage with Relevant Conversation 

Another example of how to thoughtfully engage with customers came from Dermstore. With site visitors spending more time on the company’s product pages, the Dermstore team decided to start promoting content alongside its products, in the hopes of better engaging customers. 

The goal was to get customers reading more about the products they were viewing and empower them to make informed, confident choices – underscoring Dermstore as a go-to site and resource for skincare and beauty. Using behavioral data to determine individual-level affinities and interests, Dermstore was able to present relevant content to shoppers to engage them in a meaningful way, while at the same time increasing brand loyalty.

DSTORE

Using individual affinity and intent data, Dermstore can engage its customers on more than just a transactional level, displaying relevant content (like what’s above) that educates shoppers and answers their questions. 

Final Thoughts 

There are, of course, many different ways to adjust to the current business climate, and the solutions are not one-size-fits-all. The best way to think about how to respond to changing buyer behavior is to look at the behavior itself, and respond from a place of empathy and understanding. Give customers what they are looking for, even if it’s different from what they’ve been looking for in the past. In addition, use the data that’s available to you to create scalable campaigns that serve both the customer and the business. 

Strengthening these connections and relationships is well worth the time and effort, and it’s something that will serve businesses well even after this pandemic has waned. For more information and ideas, check out our previous blog post, “E-Commerce Marketing Reimagined: Maintaining Connections During COVID-19” and the full webinar replay: “Leading Through Change: How Brands are Using Real-Time Personalization to Maintain Connections with Customers During Challenging Times.”

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Profiles in Personalization: IDC’s Gerry Murray https://www.evergage.com/blog/profiles-in-personalization-idcs-gerry-murray/ Tue, 26 May 2020 14:26:37 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=58253





Keep on reading: Profiles in Personalization: IDC’s Gerry Murray]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/profiles-in-personalization-idcs-gerry-murray/

The next feature in our “Profiles in Personalization” series provides actionable advice and food for thought. These insights come to you from Gerry Murray, research director for marketing and sales technology at IDC, a premiere global market intelligence firm. 

Gerry has worked in analyst roles at IDC for nearly two decades. Keenly in tune with the latest factors and trends shaping the martech landscape, Gerry produces competitive assessments, market forecasts, innovator reports, maturity models, case studies and other thought-leadership research at IDC.

Gerry-Murray

His answers to our personalization questions, below, can help companies both establish and finetune their personalization strategies and programs. Read on for Gerry’s advice.

Q: Why are you passionate about personalization? 

A: I’m a big proponent of personalization, but not in the way most people approach it. Buyers want personalization, but not when it’s based on data collected surreptitiously. That implies both big changes and big opportunities for marketers. 

Personalization can boost tactical KPIs like open rates, clickthroughs and check-out rates. But every time you personalize a message, you reveal something you know about someone. That can spark a simple question in the mind of the recipient: “How do you know that about me?” 

Concerns about data collection and sharing practices by brands and online services have resulted in a new set of expectations for brands to be more transparent and thoughtful about managing data relationships with customers. Brands that practice privacy by design throughout the whole personalization cycle – from collection to processing to activation – will not only drive short-term KPIs, but also achieve greater strategic benefits such as lower churn, more active advocacy and higher lifetime customer value. 

Q: What is personalization done right? (and done wrong?) 

A: Due to the global economic slowdown, now is a perfect time for marketers to reframe personalization. In fact, it’s an existential mandate. 

Personalization done right is based on an open, trusted relationship between brands and buyers. The higher the level of trust customers have in a brand, the more data they are willing to disclose, and the less the brand will have to rely on other sources for customer insights. This is critical because the most valuable customer data also tends to be the most sensitive. 

Brands can earn and maintain trust by exchanging value for data, coupled with implementing privacy protections. To nurture trust, marketers need to weave privacy into the buyer's journey and approach every interaction as an opportunity to deliver personalized value, over and above product and service pitches. Customers will know immediately if the content of a message is based on data they intended to be used for that purpose or not. Familiar examples that erode trust and brand value include: “stalker ads” based on searches or page views (or worse, text messages), abandoned cart emails that are out of synch with in-store purchases, or upselling emails that go out after complaint calls or product returns. Customers expect better of brands, and they deserve better too.    

At IDC, we’ve defined a hierarchy of customer expectations to guide marketers in building brand value and customer loyalty. It starts with consent and progresses through personalization to what we call “mentor marketing” – the practice of improving the personal or professional lives of your audiences. It is designed to address five fundamental demands that modern buyers have of brands:

IDC-Hierarchy

The idea is for brands to build a set of practices that enable prospects and customers to learn from the collective wisdom, experiences, aspirations and accomplishments of others like them. For example, B2B marketers should help customers build competencies to better meet their current challenges and prepare for those to come. Best practices and skills development are key to performance and career potential, so what can you, as a marketer, do to help customers grow personally and professionally? 

For consumer brands, one of the most effective approaches is to practice expansive curation to guide customers to new experiences, new skills and new connections. Deepen your customer relationships now, so that when a recovery from today’s climate and challenges begins, you have even stronger customer bonds and loyalty. 

Q: What benefits should companies expect to achieve from personalization? 

A: When personalization is practiced as a tactic – such as optimizing email subject lines, imagery and offers – it can boost open rates, clickthroughs and e-commerce traffic. All good. When it is elevated to a strategic brand value and cultural mindset in marketing, it extends beyond transactions and lowers churn, increases renewal rates, facilitates cross-selling and upselling, inspires advocacy, and creates more lifetime value for both buyers and sellers. 

Q: What trends are impacting personalization right now? 

A: There are two big trends marketers need to address immediately: 

  1. The economic slowdown caused by the global pandemic. In many industries, everything is shut down, and executives are scrambling to keep multibillion-dollar enterprises afloat. Marketers that are able to function must radically shift their role from volume to value, and from messaging to mentoring. When you can’t sell, brand values matter more than ever. When people are stuck at home, it’s a great time to learn new skills, discover virtual experiences that may translate into real-world ones later, and connect and collaborate with a new world of others all coping with the same challenges. Marketers: use content wisely, and help make it happen for them! 
  2. The global awakening about the surveillance economy. Complying with new privacy regulations, while mandatory, is not a differentiator. Think about how your brand can go beyond compliance and give customers more confidence that the data they share with you will be used for their benefit. This requires marketers to proactively manage their customer data relationships and articulate their privacy and data-protection practices as brand assets. Marketers must transition from a mindset of data ownership to data stewardship. The underlying maxim that should be ingrained into brand value statements regarding customer data is: The way you treat your customer data is the way you treat your customers. 

Q: What’s your top piece of personalization advice for companies just getting started on their journeys? 

A: An important, overarching message is to personalize with care. Be thoughtful about what you really need to know about your audiences and what value you will be delivering to them in return. This will help you to: 

  • Practice privacy by design: Weave transparency, consent and control over customer data into your customer journey design. Identify gaps in the customer journey versus the customer's data journey, and work to better align the two. 
  • Identify the most effective use cases for data, and explore how to leverage data in sales, commerce, finance, service and the call center to better serve your customers and prospects. 
  • Be transparent with customers about what you need to know, and why and how you will care for their data throughout the lifecycle of their relationship with you – along with what gets shared with your ecosystem of partners. 
  • Avoid the broken promise of dumping everything into a giant data lake and expecting some form of AI magic to make sense of it all. 
  • Be more customer-centric in your go-to-market activities. 
  • Not be a data monger. More data for the sake of more data is a cost to the relationship and the infrastructure.

Lastly, managing customer data relationships requires new metrics. Consider the idea of a Data Promoter Score based on the question: “How likely are you to recommend others do business with us based on our data practices?” This forces brands to think holistically from the customer’s point of view and can uncover big opportunities to improve the way all customer-facing functions manage their part of the data relationship – which is the foundation for effective personalization.

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Profiles in Personalization: 451 Research’s Sheryl Kingstone https://www.evergage.com/blog/profiles-in-personalization-451-researchs-sheryl-kingstone/ Mon, 18 May 2020 14:43:59 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=58240





Keep on reading: Profiles in Personalization: 451 Research’s Sheryl Kingstone]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/profiles-in-personalization-451-researchs-sheryl-kingstone/

It’s with great pleasure that we bring you the next feature in our “Profiles in Personalization” series. Read on for deep, fresh insights and analysis from Sheryl Kingstone, research vice president for customer experience and commerce at 451 Research, a leading global research and advisory firm.

In her role, Sheryl studies the many ways in which customer experience (CX) is a catalyst for digital transformation. She also oversees her firm’s coverage of CX software markets – spanning marketing, ad tech, sales, commerce and service. A recognized thought-leader and frequent speaker at leading industry events (including Evergage’s 2019 Personalization & CDP Summit), Sheryl has worked as an analyst for over two decades and is a terrific source on personalization as a CX driver.

SK-Headshot

Without further ado, here are her answers to our burning questions:

Q: Why are you passionate about personalization?

A: When it comes to why I’m passionate about personalization, it’s because I’m passionate about customer experience. Personalization is a key element of that, and it’s at the heart of today’s data-driven experience economy.

Q: What is personalization done right – and done wrong?

A: People often think personalization is just about: “Well, here’s the best piece of content, or here’s the best author for you.” It should go deeper than that. It’s about tailoring the entire experience, in context to what the person needs. In order to do that, you have to know when and how to engage. 

When personalization is done right, it’s also unobtrusive – you don’t even know it’s there. It could be embedded in a journey orchestration, or it could be part of search results. It could even be alerting a contact center agent to the next best action. The list goes on. Effective personalization comes down to having reliable data, and understanding and using your technology with the right approach. 

As for personalization done wrong – too many companies are underestimating what personalization is, and only going at it in a superficial way.

We’re also still seeing cringe-worthy mistakes that really shouldn’t happen. Even simple things, like if I get an email that reads: “Dear Kingstone…” I’ve also seen mistakes with deep linking – for example, where a personalized email urges someone to check out an item of interest. But when the recipient clicks in, they’re not directed to the item they clicked, and might instead land on a high-level category page. That’s frustrating and introduces undue friction points into the buyer’s journey. Now you’re making it difficult for the customer to find the product they want.

Or maybe clicking does bring the shopper to their desired item… but it’s not in their size, or it’s out-of-stock. The personalized campaign wasn’t connected to real-time inventory, which is also really frustrating.

Rather than errors in personalization, per se, these mistakes often stem from data issues. “Dear Kingstone” shows a lack of clean data. Bringing someone to an out-of-stock page means your systems aren’t talking to each other in real time. 

That’s why unifying and activating customer data and intelligence is so important – it separates the digital leaders from the laggards. Digital leaders work to create a single view of each customer across disparate data sources – bridging together the known and unknown, and having and presenting the right information at the right time. 

Q: What areas and trends are impacting personalization right now?

A:  COVID-19 has put pressure on nearly every industry, business and individual. Consumer spending continues to drop, and many business operations remain either closed or curtailed. Even when we start to see phased and limited re-openings, day-to-day business will still be far from the “normal” we were previously accustomed to.

As we know, in this “new normal” we’re faced with, the way customers interact with brands – and what they need from brands – have dramatically changed. And while situations like the coronavirus are very difficult to predict, technology today can help businesses rise to meet shifting consumer expectations. As I explained in an earlier blog post for 451 Research, technology is helping redefine and reimagine customer interactions: from what may have been previously in-person and transactional relationships, into more nuanced ones between humans and the automated systems and devices they use to engage the world.

As a result, and with many in-person channels closed, this crisis is placing more emphasis than ever on the growing primacy of digital experiences and the necessity of a digital-first business posture. As companies adhere to social distancing requirements, while trying to meet the immediate needs of thousands (if not millions), it’s important that they offer streamlined, helpful and relevant online experiences. Personalization has a major role to play here – enabling brands to show their customers they recognize them, and that they’re here to support and fulfill their wants and needs. Using digital personalization to successfully engage customers at the individual level – with relevant, in-stock recommendations and useful content – will help brands fortify connections, and build loyalty and trust that persist even after the crisis wanes.

Aside from the virus (though still related to high-quality digital experiences), other recent industry trends impacting personalization have been very much geared around making sure that companies are creating intelligent experiences. Over the last couple years, digital leaders have been investing in customer intelligence platforms (CIPs), which do more than consolidate a single view of the customer – they add a layer of data governance, synthesis and identity, which powers a dynamic customer graph to fulfill the vision of contextual experiences. And they help companies execute on the promise of personalization in true real time.

Our research shows that 81% of data-driven businesses say data will become even more important over the next year. How they get there – and how they use data to create more strategic and personalized customer experiences – will also separate the digital leaders from the laggards. Leaders also track engagement with personalized experiences (using that data to inform future campaigns), and track and measure the customer journey to increase retention and engagement.

Digital leaders also integrate personalization within an overall CX strategy – addressing use cases across marketing, sales, commerce and service. They’re advanced from a technology perspective too – employing customer data and intelligence platforms; applying machine learning for 1-to-1 relevance at scale; and employing real-time decisioning to drive orchestrated, omnichannel journeys.

The graphic below, based on our research, further illustrates how digital leaders apply technology to create differentiated experiences:

Image-1

Q: What benefits should companies expect to achieve from personalization?

A: Good personalization is tied to a good customer experience. There are substantial financial benefits too. For retail and e-commerce companies in North America alone, we’ve calculated a half-trillion-dollar revenue opportunity from improving digital experiences. Here are some of the factors that go into that:

  • Last year, $87.5 billion in sales were influenced by personalized offers, which resulted in consumers making a purchase they did not otherwise intend to make.
  • There’s been a $45.1 billion increase in sales in the last 12 months, as a result of personalized cross-sell recommendations.
  • $90.1 billion in sales last year were influenced by the availability of cross-channel buying options (e.g., buy online/pick up in store). In cases like these, there’s an opportunity to apply personalization to create a cohesive, omnichannel journey that builds brand loyalty.

On the flip side:

  • Last year saw $79.7 billion in potential sales lost, due to consumers abandoning their online shopping carts because of difficulties completing their purchase. Effective personalization and journey orchestration can address that problem.
  • There was also $93.2 billion in potential sales lost last year, due to consumers not purchasing an advertised product they were interested in – because too many steps were required to find the product and/or complete the transaction. Again, personalization, deep linking and in-context experiences can alleviate that – increasing revenues and improving the customer experience.

So getting back to your question – the benefits of personalization tie right back to all of these numbers. With personalization, companies can tackle data-driven issues and serve up better experiences: providing individualized navigation, relevant subject lines, optimized offers, personalized pricing, search results sorted by interest level, recommendations that build upon (and exclude) prior purchases… in short, the right message at the right time.

Realizing these benefits, and successfully executing in today’s environment, also involves digital platforms that address customer demand for immersive experiences. These types of platforms rely heavily on rich media, prescriptive insights and intelligent automation – so companies can build deeper customer connections, recommend appropriate next best actions, and really create more contextually driven interactions that boost engagement.

Q: What’s your top piece of personalization advice for companies just getting started on their journeys?

A: A piece of advice that I give a lot of companies is to understand what their digital maturity is. They can use a maturity model, like the sample one below, to see where they stand and to drive advancements.

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451 Research, Measuring the Digital Maturity of Customer Intelligence, December 6, 2019.

The way we break it out: we look at where companies are with the use of AI and machine learning, their data and content, the adoption of cloud, and related processes – and then the actions they can take. Companies can use models like this to benchmark themselves and develop a roadmap. Do they have unpredictable processes with limited structure and basic technology enablement? Or do they have a well-defined, collaborative customer engagement process and effective technology enablement? If they don’t – they can start to plot how to get there.

Assessing your digital maturity is helpful – because when it comes to personalization and creating differentiated, dynamic digital experiences, a lot of companies struggle to determine where they are, how to start and what makes sense. You don’t have to boil the ocean. But you do have to have a foundation of processes; you do have to start breaking down scattered data repositories and bringing in more data governance and a full customer view. And you do have to understand the difference between segment-based and 1-to-1, algorithmic approaches, and when to use each one.

But really what it comes down to is understanding how to execute and mapping that back to your own company’s ability to execute. And what I mean by that is – where are you with digital transformation? Do you have a formal strategy with executive leadership, moving the company forward? And are you adopters of early technology? There are differences between companies that have formal strategies and early adopting attitudes toward technology, versus ones that don’t. That is, those that do have formal strategies and are early adopters tend to provide more optimized experiences to their customers, and then reap the rewards.

Q: What’s the role of emotion in personalization and digital experiences?

A: Emotion is the currency of experience. That’s absolutely true, and a lot of people are paying attention to that. It follows that brand experiences – not product and price – are going to be the battleground of the future. 

How do you connect emotion to experience? That’s where some businesses are struggling to thrive. It involves a revitalization of storytelling to drive more personalized, interactive and often video-based engagements across web, mobile, social, etc.

Think about the old model – brands would tell one story to millions of individuals. Sure, it would resonate with some, but definitely not all. And thanks to personalization, the new storytelling model lets us tell millions of stories, aimed to each audience of 1. That’s really important for understanding and driving emotion at scale.

This also gets to the value of personalization. It’s not just about customer acquisition (though, of course, that’s important.) You also can and should use personalization and effective, individualized storytelling to focus on growing your existing base and retaining your customers: one of the most important CX initiatives.

For more personalization-related insights from Sheryl, check out the keynote presentation, “Being Data-Driven in the Experience Economy,” she delivered at Evergage’s 2019 Personalization & CDP Summit, below.

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E-Commerce Marketing Reimagined: Maintaining Connections During COVID-19 https://www.evergage.com/blog/e-commerce-marketing-reimagined-maintaining-connections-during-covid-19/ Mon, 11 May 2020 14:23:23 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=58206





Keep on reading: E-Commerce Marketing Reimagined: Maintaining Connections During COVID-19]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/e-commerce-marketing-reimagined-maintaining-connections-during-covid-19/

I must admit, I was concerned this article might appear self-serving. With the many inspiring stories of self-sacrifice, it is natural to contemplate our place in the crisis and to search for the greater meaning in our work. I have also witnessed many brands struggle – I’ve spent hours on video chats listening to executives describe the choices they are making each day because of COVID-19... business decisions that would have been unfathomable just a couple months ago. 

It’s clear that for these companies and others across industries, these very challenging times are being compounded by a torrent of unpredictability. Each day of the pandemic brings dramatic changes in customer sentiment and behavior, supply chain accessibility, staff retention plans, business response strategies and future forecasts. Industry reports and predictions from two weeks ago are already stale.

In our temporary isolation, all types of companies – especially retail – are focusing their business plans on immediacy and fluidity, and moving nearly all of their consumer connections online. Brands are consciously and aggressively changing how they work to engage an angst-ridden population, while operating in a business environment that requires nearly daily planning. Amidst all this whiplash, staying abreast of change and rapidly adapting have become key to remaining relevant.

Many businesses, of course, are struggling. A few sectors are seeing heightened activity, though, during the pandemic – think groceries, electronics (e.g. computers), home goods (e.g., desks), home & garden, sporting goods (e.g., home gym equipment) and beauty. Many of these reported surges, however, will prove temporary.

The Role of Digital Experiences

Throughout the uncertainty and changes, what should now remain constant for brands is a strategic focus on digital experiences. Research VP Sheryl Kingstone of 451 Research puts it well: “This current crisis could place more emphasis than ever before on the growing primacy of the digital experience as we try to adhere to ‘social distancing’ requirements, but also increase the efficiency and effectiveness of meeting the immediate needs of thousands, if not millions. …In effect, this is forcing the evolution of the entire technology stack and organizational culture to enable real-time, contextually relevant experiences.”

As Kingstone notes, relevant, helpful digital engagements are becoming even more critical in today’s environment. Personalization drives this and provides a way to figuratively reach out and embrace customers, despite the social distancing, and show that you understand them. In a time of high anxiety and low-to-no face-to-face contact, customers know that they matter because the brands they love recognize them, and make them feel like they matter. And at Evergage, we’re finding great meaning in lessening the burden on our clients by helping them connect with their consumers.

Machine-learning driven personalization platforms like ours offer companies a unique opportunity to engage their consumers with relevant digital experiences, and automatically adjust to changing sentiment and behavior in real time. At the same time, that machine learning needs to be managed and guided by marketing staff who are likely experiencing the greatest challenges of their professional lives.  

As companies examine every aspect of consumer interaction, and uncover new and innovative ways to engage people – wherever they are – we wanted to share a few valuable examples. There are many ways that retailers are leveraging technologies (Evergage and others) to communicate rapidly and effectively; alleviate their customers’ pain points; and deliver personalized experiences that fortify connections, help shoppers get what they need and want, and assure deliverability.

Key Themes in Personalization

There are a number of digital personalization techniques businesses can and should advance during this crisis, as we start to go back to our workplaces, and afterward – when growth accelerates. Examples include boosting available inventory and burying backorders, sharing lifestyle content, accelerating your “buy online, pick up in store” strategy, combining merchandising with machine learning as behaviors change, managing promotions, supporting bounce prevention, testing and optimizing experiences, deploying intelligent free-shipping offers, emphasizing future value over refunds, taking a measured approach to store reopening engagement, engaging in localized philanthropy, and providing at-home replenishment offers, just to name a few. Let’s expand on some of these key opportunities you should consider.

Boosting Available Inventory and Omitting Backorders

Nowadays, inventory levels are changing rapidly and unpredictably. Supply chain issues, manufacturing delays and warehouse challenges mean out-of-stock items that previously came back in-stock quickly may not be available for quite some time.

It’s always irritating for shoppers when they reach a “dead end” (such as an out-of-stock page). The feelings of frustration are amplified now, given heightened demand for some items and the ensuing scarcities. Using personalization, retailers can factor up-to-the-moment inventory and shifting consumer interests in their machine-learning-driven product recommendations, whether deployed on the web, in their mobile app or in outgoing emails (which can be updated at open-time). That way, consumers receive recommendations for items that are relevant to them, are not on backorder or require being drop-shipped, and can actually be shipped today. 

You can also use personalization to boost products (such as those featured in on-site recommendations to shoppers) that have over a certain threshold of products available. This figure can be customized to key categories, and you can also ensure that items with limited inventory are not featured prominently across key points of interaction in email, in your app, on the web, etc. We’re also seeing retailers use personalization technology to omit drop-ship and backorder items on their product listing pages (PLPs). This helps to prevent site/app visitors from engaging with items that may be unavailable for immediate shipping. 

Sharing Lifestyle Content

With many people still socially isolating at home and steering clear of unnecessary interactions, it’s more important than ever to not only display relevant products but also amplify content related to that particular product or category. This product-to-content curation strategy can help to increase site exploration, category/range awareness and conversion.  

Skincare and beauty site Dermstore does this well, prominently featuring above-the-fold content and guides on its site. For example, the retailer provides “Sunscreen 101” expert advice, with articles and tips from dermatologists about choosing the best SPF for you, while also making it easy for visitors to shop and explore sunscreen products.

Blog-image-1

The sunscreen guide (above, bottom right) contains a collection of articles, including dermatologist-answered questions about sunscreen and home remedies to alleviate sunburn, as well as the most highly reviewed sunscreen products on the website in order to help educate interested shoppers about the category and drive product purchases.

Accelerating Your “Buy Online, Pick up in Store” Strategy

Many retailers are expanding or accelerating their “buy online, pick up in store” (or BOPIS) strategy as we transition to a phased re-opening. The first step is identifying which stores will be open and when, and sharing that information with local consumers. The challenge arises: how do you market BOPIS locations when BOPIS openings will be implemented in a phased approach? 

Recently, Academy Sports + Outdoors observed increased interest in BOPIS products within the backyard entertainment category. Previously, a website visitor would have to scroll through the product category to determine if an item was BOPIS eligible. Evergage now powers a campaign which pre-selects the “Store Pickup” filter, enabling shoppers to see BOPIS availability in their saved store location.

Before:

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Previously, shoppers would have to scroll through the items within this category, click on any of the products shown, and then check each product detail page to determine whether an item was BOPIS-eligible. Shoppers could spend a good amount of time looking at a product before realizing it was not even available for BOPIS.

After:

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Now, it’s easy for shoppers to apply a filter to their searches to immediately see which items have a BOPIS option in their area, streamlining their shopping experience.

Combining Merchandising with Machine Learning As Behaviors Change

Undoubtedly, marketing campaigns in this era need to have extra scrutiny applied and more review cycles factored in. Showing empathy and togetherness is important. There’s also a fine line between exhibiting appropriate (and appreciated) levity, and being tone-deaf.

In addition, to take your content to the next level, consider that machine learning can detect behavioral patterns in a way humans can’t – delivering 1-to-1 relevance at scale in, for example, promotions and product recommendations. Algorithms can adapt to changing behaviors in the moment too. For example, a previous shopper of high-end fashion items may be more interested in casual, comfy leisure clothes or casual-but-professional video-conference-appropriate wear. At some point, too, that shopper may be returning to the office and want business attire again. All digital experiences should reflect that person’s changing preferences (as evidenced from their recent browsing behavior; buying habits; brand, department or category interests; etc.) and adjust to further changes in behavior in real time.

Online men’s retailer Huckberry provides numerous examples of marketing and machine learning done well – engaging shoppers with relevance (e.g., socializing employees’ own work-from-home set-ups) and tying compassion into the products they recommend (e.g., “when you purchase the 72-hour tee donation bundle, you’ll get your own tee, and we’ll donate one to a frontlines worker on your behalf”). They’ve also successfully established a dialog around “the new work clothes” (sweats and other athleisure wear) and the work-from-home mullet (“business up top, sweats on the bottom”). 

 See a few email examples below:

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The campaign above highlights work-from-home items (comfy clothes, bedsheets, etc.) in a humorous, sensitive and intelligent way. Recommendations are updated at open-time, so recipients see what’s most relevant to them (and what they haven’t seen before), right as they engage with the email.

For many marketers, it is important not to rely on machine learning alone. Combine the math with your marketing instincts, experience and business needs. The most impactful personalization is human-guided – giving marketers insight into and control over the math that powers their campaigns. 

Managing Promotions

For retailers now, there’s a marked focus on rapidly securing sales and fulfilling orders. The prevailing strategy is often aggressive, deep discounting – and a lot of it. In the weeks ahead, though, as even more business moves online, managing markdowns will become more common and strategic.

Personalization engines that apply advanced machine learning can help with dynamic offer management, based on the individual customer. For example, free shipping might incent most customers to make a purchase; another subset, though, could find specific promotions like discounts on select styles, single-day deals or buy-one, get-one offers more compelling. Machines can pick up on these cues at scale, in a way humans cannot, to drive more discovery and conversions. 

In the example below, a luxury retailer uses machine learning to identify customers who may need promotional offers to get them to convert – and then tailors the promotion displayed to eligible customers, based on their affinities.

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Here, a free shipping promotion is displayed to specific customers who qualify. The luxury retailer features promotions like this throughout its site and app, in key points of interaction like the product detail pages (PDPs), cart and homepage. By using machine learning to tailor promotional experiences to customers who need them to convert, the retailer is able to strategically leverage promotions when applicable to the customer (vs. targeting all shoppers with promotional messaging).

Supporting Bounce Prevention

Bounce prevention has always been important for retailers. In today’s climate, it’s especially strategic for those companies that sell commodity-type items that are available through other sites.

To help close transactions as quickly as possible, e-commerce teams should show messages to shoppers who display exit-intent behaviors (moving the cursor to exit a page, highlighting/copying a price – presumably to comparison-shop, etc.). These messages could be promotional offers, free shipping reminders, information about flexible return policies and more.

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Here’s a mobile example of an effective bounce prevention message. As a shopper highlights a product name and is about to leave, a message pops up to persuade the shopper to make the purchase there (notifying them of free shipping and a 30-day return policy).

Testing and Optimize Experiences

We always recommend using our platform to test, compare and optimize digital experiences. Now more than ever, retailers should consider testing their personalization strategies, campaigns and experiences to see what resonates best among various audiences and maximizes discovery, experience and conversions. (Our advice is to test/measure, refine and then measure again.) 

What’s Next?

In the midst of these troubling times, it’s been inspiring to see how a number of companies are pitching in to make a difference, and thinking creatively, precisely and deeply about how to drive customer connections during the pandemic. 

Many are also pivoting to new ways of running their businesses (being impelled, for example, to translate in-store practices such as personal shoppers and shopping advisors into equivalent online options). To be successful, these changes in mindset need to be accompanied by support for (at the leadership- and infrastructure-level) a digital-first posture. Many retailers have already undergone digital transformations; many others are rising to the challenge under the most difficult of circumstances.

In addition, we’re already seeing a focus on extended planning – not just on “How do we get through this?” but “What happens next?” and “How many phases of recovery will we experience?” While much remains unknown, a silver lining is that the business agility, creativity, planning and technology best practices displayed will persist even after the crisis has abated.

Special Note

To help businesses better navigate to and through the “next normal,” Salesforce has introduced a COVID-19 Response Framework for helping leaders adjust their approach and decision-making, and Work.com, a solution specifically aimed at helping companies manage their reopening journeys. These are excellent resources I invite you to take advantage of. And, of course, Evergage is always here and ready to help too. We are most certainly in this together.

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Jonathan Ranger
Case Study: UK-Based Retailer Uses Personalization to Boost Conversions, RPU https://www.evergage.com/blog/case-study-uk-based-retailer-uses-personalization-to-boost-conversions-rpu/ Fri, 08 May 2020 13:46:27 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=58202





Keep on reading: Case Study: UK-Based Retailer Uses Personalization to Boost Conversions, RPU]]>
https://www.evergage.com/blog/case-study-uk-based-retailer-uses-personalization-to-boost-conversions-rpu/

Now more than ever, retailers – as well as other companies across industries – are focused on bolstering their online presence and supporting a digital-first business approach. Online personalization provides the opportunity to connect with customers, virtually – showing you understand who they are, as individuals, and that you’re here to serve their unique (and changing) wants and needs.

Over the last few years, Matalan, a UK-based omnichannel retailer, providing high-quality clothing and homeware at low prices, has invested heavily in e-commerce to create relevant, engaging and streamlined shopping experiences. Matalan uses personalization to deliver recommendations and experiences that resonate at the individual level with online and mobile shoppers. 

We’re pleased to share a newly published case study, showing how the retailer has used site-wide personalization to improve the customer experience (CX), and increase conversions and revenue per user (RPU). We encourage you to check it out and see how Matalan stands out as a great example of:

  • The Power of Machine Learning – Matalan uses Evergage’s configurable, machine-learning algorithms to drive the product recommendations on its homepage, product detail pages (PDPs) and other key pages. With machine learning, Matalan can present dynamic recommendations and experiences that map to each shopper’s interests and intent in a highly scalable way.
  • The Importance of Testing and Optimization – 1-to-1 personalization has driven impressive business results at Matalan, and the retailer is committed to making a good thing even better. A culture of continuous testing enables Matalan to optimize its personalization programs and campaigns – to ensure they’re not just working well, but delivering maximum value. (Eighteen months into its use of Evergage, Matalan quantified the incremental impact of the personalized recommendations it had deployed, noting a 2.3% overall increase in RPU.)
  • How to Successfully Expand Your Strategy – Rather than attempt to boil the ocean, Matalan first sought to address doable priorities with personalized recs (e.g., boosting visibility and product discovery across key brands). After testing and validating its approach, Matalan then moved on to employ even more sophisticated techniques. According to Gary Williams, product owner, Matalan: “We’ve experienced repeated success using personalized recommendations to engage our shoppers and now continue to expand our strategy.”

Matalan now successfully employs personalized inline creative – where Evergage is used to dynamically add relevant content to a page in a seamless way. For example, a recent nightwear campaign automatically adjusted the homepage hero banner for each shopper, based on that person’s history, preferences and behavior, to promote the most relevant department (men’s, women’s, children’s). Results included a 40% lift in clickthrough rates and a 50% lift in conversions over the generic banner.

Matalan-Case-Study-Image

By deploying personalized recommendations for a nightwear category campaign – targeting return visitors with a demonstrated affinity for a particular department – Matalan increased conversions by 50% over the generic control (the last image).

Describing the business impact of personalization, Matalan’s Paul Hornby, director of e-commerce, noted: “Each Matalan shopper has distinct interests and needs, and we want to create unique experiences that engage every single individual. Online personalization lets us do this in real time, in a scalable way. Working with Evergage, we’ve seen improvements in product discovery, revenue per user, average order value and more.” 

We encourage you to read the full Matalan case study for more details and results. And to see if Evergage is the right real-time personalization platform for your company, request a demo today.

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Sara Card