In recent years, personalization has become a brand imperative. The need for personalized homepages, perfectly curated product recommendations, seamless omnichannel experiences, and more have come to boggle the minds of marketers everywhere. How can you get it all done, and what do you do if you’re starting from the ground up?

Well, it is best to understand the biggest challenges of personalization before you go any further. While personalization is perpetually in demand, there can be several roadblocks standing between your brand and success. Let’s take a deeper look at a few reasons why nailing personalization is no easy feat and some solutions to help your organization address these problems.

the blank slate problem

The Blank Slate Problem: Not Knowing How to Get Started

One of the biggest roadblocks to personalization is not knowing what to personalize first when you’re just getting started. This is called the “blank slate problem.” If you’ve found yourself at this stage, no need to worry. Personalization is a process that many brands have taken years to begin to understand. And you’re not alone; 47 percent of companies across the financial, travel and hospitality, and retail industries say one of their top 3 challenges in creating a successful personalization strategy is data quality. Compound challenges such as this with not knowing how other page elements fit in, and you have yourself what feels like a pretty tricky situation.  

Starting at the very beginning shouldn’t be viewed as a problem, it should be viewed as an opportunity to try tactics others may not have thought of before. In fact, 83 percent of marketers who exceeded revenue goals employed personalization tactics. In order to get started, list a few top personalization challenges of your own to get a feel for how to get to work on your own blank slate. Identifying your own obstacles and focusing on these will put you ahead of the curve and help to ease your stress over starting from scratch.

Using Signals from Customer Data to Understand Customer Intent

Once again, 42 percent of marketers feel that they struggle with understanding buyer behavior in context. And when it comes to personalization, context is everything. Having an abundance of quality data is what leads marketers to make their best decisions possible. And according to our most recent Personalization Development Study, data-related issues have become the biggest obstacles. Building a sustainable data architecture, integrating third-party data, and data quality are the top three concerns of the retail, travel & hospitality, and insurance industries.

The most natural solution to solving this issue is to find a third party solution that helps you collect the data you need in order to make smarter, more personalized decisions. Leveraging this data also yields real results for marketers and businesses that utilize data-driven personalization delivered 5-8 x the ROI on marketing spend.

Remember the issue at hand, however. You have to listen to a customer in order to personalize for one. Struggling with this concept is so common in the marketing world because of the hurdles that typically go along with it. If you do not feel that you have sufficient data, you won’t feel as confident in putting the numbers you’re seeing into context. Therefore, you won’t fully understand your customer’s intent. It is a bit of a vicious cycle. So, no matter how many ways you try to remedy this situation, you’re going to find yourself coming back to data time and time again.

How to Measure Your Results

Now that you’ve nailed down that good numbers will lay down the foundation of your personalization strategy, it’s time to understand the next roadblock: finding the right metrics. You know that you need data, but what about the results? Well, think of your end goal. Personalization is used to leverage long-term customer relationships, so you will need long-term customer relationship metrics. New customers can cost 5 times as much as retaining existing ones, so understanding how personalization ties into your customer lifetime value is vital. Additionally, learn how to find a healthy balance of growing new customers and holding onto existing ones. Attracting customers through initial personal interactions is just as important as the loyal connections you already have.

Personalization affects so many aspects of a business that not knowing the most effective measures for your strategy can hold you back from getting the best ROI. Sure, knowing how many conversions one particular personalized interaction drove is beneficial. It illustrates what worked for your brand and that you should keep doing it. That is a short-term metric, however. In order to achieve major success, you need to look at what is boosting loyalty and customer lifetime value. If you see that a change you made to your overall strategy is causing customers to return to your site and make a purchase, then that is the part of your plan to zero in on. Half the battle of personalization is knowing where it is working and why.

Key Learnings: How to Employ Personalization

So, after your blank slate and your data predicament and your metrics confusion, what’s left? Implementation! Getting your personalization strategy up and running can be just as tricky as designing the plan itself. Personalization technology takes time and resources to get right, and that is often where brands find themselves falling short. Only about 28 percent of companies say they have nearly or fully implemented a strategy for personalization, with a mere 9 percent more stating they have an advanced strategy in place.

Once you’ve figured out the budget you have to invest in personalization technology, you can get started on selecting the right fit for your company. A personalization engine will allow you to bring all of the data you’ve collected together to make important, intelligent decisions in real time.  Using an engine should allow you to create an ideal, holistic personalization strategy through testing, segmentation, and automation. An engine will also help you select which metrics you’d like to focus on, so you can allocate your time elsewhere while the solution does the work.

The Bottom Line

Achieving success with personalization can be challenging, there is no doubt about it. Understanding what could potentially be stalling your strategy, however, can help you get the ball rolling again. And after you’ve taken the time to define your biggest obstacles, you will begin to see the bigger picture.

For more information on the challenges of personalization, read through our 2019 Personalization Development Study. If you have any further questions about how to get started with the Monetate Intelligent Personalization Engine™, feel free to contact us today.