Personalization Maturity Curves
I see companies’ efforts to personalization the online customer experience maturing on two levels: personalization strategy maturity, and the maturity of the organization’s capabilities.
You might assume that the organization’s capabilities are the gating factor in achieving maturity. Ultimately, capabilities are the constraint to personalization progress, but the first hur-dle is deciding what personalization is for.
Personalization strategies are typically expressed as one or more of these tactics:
A. Targeted marketing
B. Ads adapted to visitor
C. Some content recommended based on visitor
D. Content adapted to visitor’s behavior and profile
E. Entire experience adapted to visitor
I think business success rests on customer experience. Investments that devalue the customer experience are bad investments. So in my view, targeted marketing and advertising tactics must be used carefully, and their impact on the customer experience measured and monitored. I often see companies using tactic A and B without considering the impact on customer experience. I call that an immature strategy. Companies that execute A and B well, but stop there, are missing out on additional value they could be gleaning from their customer garden if they moved up the curve. Companies using tactics C and D are definitely focused on the customer experience, so given my bias, I see tactics C and D as part of a more mature strategy. Tactic E can’t be accomplished until the organization is competent in using the other four tactics, and has assessed the business impacts of adjusting its face to suit each visitor. So I see tactic E as the most mature expression of the personalization strategy.
Personalization strategy is supported by the people, processes and technology that make up the personalization capability. I see the people/process/technology maturity curve as follows:
Incidental Personalization. Teams, usually marketers, use personalization tactics sporadically. EG, They use an email marketing platform to send abandoned cart emails, or put product recommendations on the shopping cart page. Results are shared within the team. Tools are silo’d, addressing individual touchpoints or tasks. There is no committed, communicated, accepted personalization strategy.
Disciplined Personalization. A personalization strategy is established, with business goals and metrics. Teams design personalization tactics to meet the business goals. The designs are rigorously tested and optimized, using a repeatable process. An optimization program is in place to manage the tests and communicate the results across the company.
Cross-Life Cycle Personalization. The strategy, tools, and skills allow the company to personalize the customer experience throughout the customer lifecycle; monitor quality of customer experience; and tie customer experience improvements to improvements in business performance. Tools are cross-channel and support marketing from customer acquisition through engagement and loyalty. A common KPI measuring customer experience is tracked throughout the company.
Personalized Business. Personalization investments and expected results feature in the business plans for all parts of the company. The customer experience KPI is as well known as this quarter’s revenue number.