shutterstock_209069134George Bernard Shaw once said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

Good quote from George, and it certainly has its merits, but George couldn’t be more wrong when it comes to creating a personalization plan for your ecommerce website. In fact, the first thing to do when starting a personalization program is actually “nothing.” That’s because, before you can do anything, you need to first understand your site, your visitors, and everything in between.

Not only does having a baseline help you better understand where you’re starting and how your visitors are behaving, a “do nothing” campaign gives you the data needed to determine which of your big personalization ideas should actually be prioritized. (Any avid chess player, by the way, will understand this concept. In chess, before you make any move you need to understand what’s currently happening on the board so you can determine the appropriate move.)

So, how can you effectively “do nothing?”

First, find out what is already at your disposal. Chances are, you have an analytics platform (or heat-mapping tool) measuring site performance. That’s more than enough. These types of tools can be very useful for understanding your visitors—you can learn everything from optimum browsing behaviors and page flows to where your leak is in the checkout process.

If you already have that data, that’s great. But running a campaign in your personalization platform will make all of this data actionable. You’ll simply want to create a “tracking” campaign, which doesn’t change the site experience, and push that campaign to 100% of your visitors. (If you use Monetate, by the way, you can also create completely custom metrics to track, as well.)

Get that campaign live and… well… it’s time to do nothing. Kick your feet back; maybe take a two-week vacation, even. I hear the Bahamas are nice this time of year. Be warned, though: as soon as you’re done lounging, you’ll have the data you need to really get started. And that’s when the real work begins.

Illustration of an office worker relaxing courtesy of Shutterstock.