Listen to meBefore we start, I’d like to state for the record that Monetate loves testing; we started out 5 years ago with a personalization message focused on testing and site optimization. We clearly see its value, but we also think it’s just the beginning.

I hosted a webinar yesterday on taking the next step, and moving from a testing culture to a customer-centric one. Testing is an important part of the process—it’s the means of optimization—and no personalization program can be complete without it.

But personalization is more about the relationship. It’s the difference between knowing what works best, and knowing who it works best for.

Monetate thinks about personalization programs (at a very high level) in three phases:

1. Understanding & Activity

This is the testing and exploration phase, where you are optimizing the site experience for large and basic customer groups. This could be done by testing elements like the hero image, the number or arrangement of products displayed, or different calls to action.

But what you are really looking for is customer motivation, and how they react to different opportunities while browsing your site.

2. Increased Segmentation

You’re starting to connect more dots, and are addressing more audiences based on their commonalities. You’re scaling your program to more segments with personalized messaging and experiences— maybe even across channels.

In this phase, you not only address more segments, but you also get into more advanced campaign creation. These campaigns are multifaceted, with email-to-site consistency, or targeted based on current circumstances, like the weather or proximity to a location, to make the message even more relevant. What your customer sees is more relevant communications.

3. Customer Focused Experiences

By this point, you’ve collected even more data about your customers, and can leverage that information to embark on more one-to-one communications.

At this phase, you can identify brand or purchase affinities based on historical data, and change site elements to highlight the most shopped category (in my case its the Petites section) or offer the preferred payment method automatically. This behavior shows you know your customer, and can tailor a site to their preferences in real-time.

We have a lot of great resources about how our customers are progressing through this cycle, but I’d recommend a recent case study, “National Geographic Goes Wild for Targeting and Testing,” which takes a look how the publishing brand leveraged Monetate to boost subscriptions, target content, and improve website engagement.