A good personalisation plan should start with setting realistic objectives linked to an organisations long term goals, building a team and then choosing a software to support your plans. We recommend making these decisions in this order as they will lead into one another and create a better outcome.
Setting objectives linked to long-term goals
You may find yourself starting out with the question: ‘What metrics do we want to influence with our personalisation plan?’. While this is a good question to ask, we encourage you to think broader and more strategically than that.
We recommend starting by writing up a set of strategic objectives for your personalisation plan. You should be considering your marketing objectives in this process, that tie through to the long-term goals of your organisation that represent value to senior stakeholders. Without this approach, we have found a lack of appetite for personalisation at C Suite level, where all they see is the cost and do not understand how personalisation will relate to their commercial goals. These goals should lead your personalisation plans, keeping you focused on why, what and for whom you are aiming to personalise experiences for. Additionally, we recommend combining your objectives with engagement metrics, for example a customer engagement value.
The key ingredients of a great team
Once you have agreement on your objectives and measurement metrics, you need the right skills to help you execute your plan. You may need one or two team members, such as a Strategy Lead, to assist you in setting strategic objectives and/or designing your team. We have detailed an ideal team scenario below, encompassing all the skills we believe are needed for a scaled up omnichannel personalisation plan, that is focused on ambitious objectives and business goals.
- Producer or Project Manager – A good Producer or Project Manager is worth their weight in gold! They are the one that keeps your personalisation project, moving in the right direction, advocating for resources, getting buy in from senior stakeholders and ensuring collaboration across the organisation and third parties.
- Strategy Lead – They need to have a strong background in digital and/or content to lead this type of project. Their role will involve creating a strategic objectives framework, challenging marketing and business objectives and tying them to the long-term business goals, and then distilling them down to a content strategy and tactics for the Customer Experience Lead to use.
- Data Scientist – They work with the Strategy Lead and other team members to utilise, collect, interpret and extract meaning from the data that is owned by brand.
- Customer Experience Lead – The are the go-to person and manager of the personalisation plan. Their role should be to lead and co-ordinate the strategy and tactics.
- Content Marketer – Their role is to lead the creation of content to match customer journeys and experience flows across all relevant channels.
- Digital Marketing Manager – This may be the unicorn hire of this team, in that their role is to execute and manage the content out through the main digital marketing channels, your customers engage with. The chances are that this is probably the role of a couple more people, like a paid media manager and SEO manager.
- UX Designer – They are responsible for the overall UX and IA of website and app content.
- Front End / Back End Developer – Their role is to work on the ‘difficult stuff’ as we call it at Etch, the technical aspects that work behind the scenes. Much of your software choice will depend on the type of skill set you need from them.
- Digital Analyst – Working alongside the Data Scientist, they will provide insight and measurement on whether your personalisation is a success.
Building a team like this is of course expensive and even if you are prepared to invest the required funds, you are hiring in an industry where rapid growth is being threatened by a shortage of skills and rising salaries. If you are not yet at the stage of such a significant investment, consider how you can better align your business goals, personalisation plan and budget. Then take a look at who in your current team you can upskill to cover some of the skills shortage detailed in these roles, consider whether you have the budget to hire an external resource for a period and choose a software that will help you replace some of these skills.
Choosing an appropriate software for your needs
This is a big decision to make and you should do it with the required due diligence. We recommend entering this decision making process armed with your agreed objectives, a clear understanding of your current digital ecosystem, an agreed budget and relatively finalised team structure so you know the skills you will have onboard.
Broadly speaking, you will find that personalisation software falls within four categories:
- Personalisation software part of a Commerce or Content management system. Examples include: Episerver or Sitecore.
- Personalisation Software as a Service for ecommerce.
Examples include: Optimizely or Apptus.
- Personalisation software that are integrated into analytics platforms.
Examples include: Adobe Target or Google Optimize 360.
- Personalisation software more suited to B2B, incl. marketing automation.
Examples include Evergage or Hubspot.
Because your focus should be omnichannel, you need to do your research as to which software to invest in. With the help of a variety of software solutions, you are in the position of being able to get a detailed view of the customer journey. Not only can you see in real time what your customers are doing, but with the help of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning marketers can predict what their customers want and deliver it when they want it and the way they want it..
Enterprise level personalisation software like Episerver’s Commerce Cloud and Content Cloud, Adobe Experience Cloud or Sitecore Experience Platform, will handle nearly all requirements of scaled up personalisation plan. Most enterprise level software should remove the need for a separate Personalisation Engine and Customer Data Platform when investing in their broader platform, and will be powered by AI and Machine Learning capabilities. Take a quick look at what Episerver offers as way of example:
We do appreciate that Enterprise level software is suited for enterprise level budgets. If you are not yet at the stage of such a significant investment, then there are other solutions on the market to explore. G2.com and HubSpot have written up lists of their best personalisation software they recommend for 2020. A point to note here is that you need to ensure you align your expectations with your budget and the software you choose. Don’t forget to think omnichannel first, over cross-channel and multi-channel. You cannot be expecting to deliver a highly scaled up personalisation plan on some of this software, as they are simply not designed or built with that in mind.
Whichever software you decide upon, this is a decision that needs to be made with your objectives, business goals, your teams’ input and of course budget in mind. Enjoy the research!
Join us next week...
Please join us next week, as we look at why and how to ‘Centralise & leverage all data sources – Building the foundations to better leverage all your data sources so you can create and deliver personalised experiences to consumers'.