Personalization has been called the “holy grail” of marketing. It can “reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50%, lift revenues by 5% to 15%, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10% to 30%,” according to a report published by McKinsey. Well that all sounds tremendous, however you may still have questions that need answering before you can seriously consider adopting personalization.  

It’s worth noting that a lot of brands have already implemented personalization strategies or are already in the process of doing so. If your competition is one of these brands then you cannot afford to lay idle any longer. 

In this blog, we’ll answer the top five questions every digital marketer asks before investing in website personalisation.

 

#1 – This isn’t something that I’ve previously budgeted for. Why should I start investing in personalization? 

Personalization is not just a pre-click strategy bringing visitors to your site, it’s also a post-click strategy that guides potential customers down your conversion funnel. It’s based on understanding your visitors at a granular level using insights from past, real-time, and predictive data. Once you profile your website, mobile web, and mobile app visitors, you can serve them contextualized messages that speak to their hearts and minds. This encourages conversions at a much higher rate compared to sending  generic blanket messages to the masses.

But through our experience working with clients in multiple industries, we have seen a problematic trend in digital marketing. Many companies are investing the vast majority of their digital marketing budgets on pre-click optimization at the expense of post-click optimization strategies like personalization. This is a common problemand a great opportunity.

Pre-click strategies are essential. Tweaking your email subject lines, ad copy, or using behavioral retargeting will bring in more traffic to your website. But what happens when those visitors arrive at your site, take a look around, but don’t convert? You don’t get a great return on investment (ROI) on all those pre-click dollars you’ve spent.

By not investing in the entire customer journey from pre-click to post-click, the money you’ve invested into attracting potential leads might well go to waste. When you personalize your digital channels based on the past, real-time and predictive data about each individual, you can derive more value from each visit and better convert your visitors into paying customers. Personalized experiences have been shown to increase engagement, retention, and loyalty for visitors. If you were getting (X) return from ad spend, you can now get (X + return on personalization) as the conversion rate of the visitors who land on your digital properties increases thanks to the personalized experiences you are serving them. 

 

#2 – I am already investing in channels like AdWords and Criteo. Will it be worth it to invest both time and money into personalization? 

Adwords and other ad channels are great for driving traffic and improving CTRs, but your key metric lies in visitors converting, right? If the bulk of your spending is going to channels that aren’t optimized for conversions then you’re not really driving any ROI. 

Analogy warning! Say you own a brick and mortar store and you’ve invested a generous sum into installing a great sign outside your shop and a few banners scattered around town, that’s your investment in adwords and ad channels. Great news, your banners have inspired a few customers to check out your store but what if your store itselfwhere the real revenue generation happensdoesn’t inspire the same level of interest? The shelves are badly organised, there are no support personnel to take care of the customers, and it’s difficult for anyone to find what they’re looking for. It seems reasonable to assume that your store would witness more exits than purchases.

Personalization for your website works along similar lines; it’s the attentive staff ready to help, the great layout and the enticing displays. Visitors to your website need to feel inspired, engaged with the products and connected to your brand. Giving visitors a first class experience, tailored to their interests and preferences is key to converting them and keep them coming back for repeat purchases.

Don’t forget, the revenue that you gain from personalization can be invested back into your customer acquisition and pre-click optimization strategies. If you gain $1 from personalization and you spent $0.20 on personalization, then you can invest $0.80 back into acquisition or pre-click optimization strategies. So in answer to your earlier question, yes, it will be worth investing time and money into personalisation.

 

#3 Doesn’t personalization only work if a user has previously visited your website? You can’t personalize for first-time buyers, can you? Converting first-time visitors into buyers, can you?

Au contraire! First impressions matter hugely in the ultra-competitive world of digital marketing and you can absolutely use personalization to welcome first-time visitors with a hyper-personalized experience that’s timely and relevant.

For example, visitors coming in from the perpetually overcast city of London may be delighted to see the season’s most chic raincoats featured on the landing page of your site upon arrival. How relevant! Meanwhile, a visitor from the sunny streets of Seville may have searched for “sunglasses” and clicked through an Adwords campaign. Your personalization engine could show this Sevillian a number of sunglasses promotions, along with other relevant items. A seamless digital experience catering to a visitor’s immediate wants encourages them to become a new customer on their very first visit.

And all is not lost if a new visitor isn’t ready to buy. If visitors look like they are about to leave, a personalization engine can encourage them to subscribe to a newsletter or serve them a special offer as soon as they show exit intent. These capabilities, and much more, help to ensure that you’ll have the opportunity to engage with first-time visitors in the future and convert them further down the line.

 

#4 – How can I secure internal buy-in, convincing executives/top management to invest in personalization?

The first step is to show your executives the maturity of the market for personalization. Since it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, adoption of new digital marketing strategies can make a meaningful impact on market share. Carry out a benchmarking study of your key competitors, industry leaders, and marketing influencers to see how they are using personalization to drive engagement, retention, and revenue. You could also track and report on the media coverage of competitors using personalization and hunt down third party consumer research to support your case. Armed with the competitive intelligence and evidence that you have collected about the market, you’re ready to begin your conversation with top management.

Let the stakeholder know that the personalization market is no longer in its infancy. Today, we’re at a stage where personalization is more of a necessity than a luxury. Five years ago personalization may have helped you beat the competition, today having a personalization strategy will only help you keep up with them. Not having one at all only means that you’ll get beaten by the competition. A fighting chance is a lot better than no chance!

The next step is to think about the core metrics that are important to your company and where you want to take these metrics with personalization. It’s been shown that deploying personalization strategies can improve engagement, increase conversions, reduce customer acquisition costs, lead to higher average order values, and increase revenue. Show your management team your aspirations for a personalization program. What KPIs are you seeking to improve and how will that lead to a higher revenue?

 

#5. I do not invest in anything/tech that gives me less than 10X ROI, will my ROI be at least 10X with a personalization platform? 

It’s been proven time and time again that personalization strategies yield higher returns in the long run, simply because these have a higher scope of generating ROI as opposed to merely guzzling your budget. 

One thing that should be born in mind is that personalization strategies should be viewed as a long term strategy and not one that generates results overnight. But by investing in personalization you provide your customers and visitors with contextualized recommendations, relevant experiences, individually crafted journeys across channels and build trust along the way. By appealing to both new and existing customers on an individual level, you will drive more returns over time than merely investing in ads. 

 

Don’t miss out on the era of personalization

This is undoubtedly the era of personalization but Brendan Witcher, principal analyst at Forrester Research, warned that “nearly 90% of organizations say they are focused on personalizing customer experiences, yet only 40% of shoppers say that information they get from retailers is relevant to their tastes and interests.” So there is still a way to go for retailers to get their personalizations right and by powering your personalizations with the right data, in the right way is a sure fire way to get the edge over your competitors. Why not speak to one of Insider’s strategic advisors to see how they’ve helped 600+  leading global brands do just that, and how they can help you too?