Jay Sarwar, Vice President of Client Services at Monetate, spends a lot of time talking with clients about UX differentiation and customer experience. According to Jay, there are three marketing themes  that make UX design so difficult to get right. In the first guest episode of “The Marketing Executive podcast”, Jay covered those three themes, shared how his most successful clients are overcoming those obstacles, and gave a hard and fast definition for the nebulous word “personalization.”

This post hits the highlights from that interview.

3 Customer Experience and UX Design Constraints

1) Unused Data

There’s a broad spectrum of data and visitor context being collected by marketers. Some very large companies have nothing at all—not even a semblance of a CRM—and some have a very robust CRM-based view of their customers. But regardless of where they are on that spectrum, most of their data is completely unused.

2) Extending the themes underlying the product

Each Monetate client has a product: it might be a piece of apparel, an insurance policy, or a publication, but the challenge is the same. The eCommerce team is challenged to extend the experience underlying their product into all their interactions with customers.

3) How to scalably impart UX differentiation with a finite set of creative assets

Every firm seems to be under stringent creative constraints, and they’re looking for solutions on how to execute on UX differentiation within those constraints.

3 Marketing Themes Successful Businesses are Using to Meet These Obstacles

Companies can combat the above issues to create a successful UX design that facilitates a positive customer experience. Below are Jay’s three tips for business to address these challenges:

1) Strategic focus

“There’s no substitute for strategic focus,” Jay says. Ecommerce teams must know where they’re pointing their cannons in the near-term, and perhaps more importantly, be comfortable knowing what they’re not going for.  When teams have a laundry list of 100 items, it breeds a tactical execution, rather than a focus on strategic efforts.

2) Focusing on customer lifetime value

Ninety-nine percent of eComm businesses are recurring revenue businesses. Therefore, successful brands have plans for their acquisition strategy for an eComm site, as well a retention strategy. They also need to make sure that those strategies are not the same.

3) Taking UX differentiation seriously

Teams that take UX differentiation set themselves apart. They also take it a step further, focusing on the customer journey.  There’s a spectrum of techniques to impart UX differentiation. On the “simplest” end of the spectrum, there’s optimization: A/B testing and multivariate testing, for example, where we take the best performing single outcome and apply it broadly.

The next step above that is segmentation, where an eComm team member can put a fork in the road in their traffic, cleanly splitting them into two buckets. A good example would be splitting your loyalty users versus your non-loyalty or your enterprises versus your SMBs versus your individuals.

Then at the top of the spectrum is actual personalization, which is quite literally delivering a tailored UX to each individual.

Delivering a Personalized UX Design

Personalization is confusing. What does it mean? What does it not mean? How do you define it?

For Jay, what it boils down to is individual resonance. In marketer terms, this translates to, “meaningful interactions with each individual at every moment across all touch points, using everything we know about them.” The most intimidating aspect  about individual resonance is how to make it scale. Jay explains, if you’re looking to personalize the UX for 1,000 people, that doesn’t mean you need 1,000 different sets of creative. Instead, what you need are intelligent decisions on what to show and where that’s driven by artificial intelligence (AI): from the layout of the web page to the actual presentation of content. But that AI will only be as good as the data that the eCommerce team feeds it. So the first thing  best thing that a team can do now is build out their access to data in order to put it to use. 


There are plenty of hefty obstacles standing in the way of delivering amazing, personalized customer experiences. But boiling them down into a few themes and figuring out how to address each one simplifies the process and will ultimately lead to a better experience for your customers.

Essential Personalization

This post is based on a podcast interview with Jay Sarwar from Monetate. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Marketing Executive.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.