Marketing & CX Strategy

Three Mistakes That Can Derail Your Personalization Marketing Program Before It Begins

04 Aug 2017, John Brown

Line graphic showing a human with no personalized features with the headline "Hi Stranger" alongside a personalized human graphic with the headline "Welcome Back, Ali"

The benefits of a strong personalization marketing program are extremely attractive for companies of all sizes. Creating content that speaks to a customer’s specific needs is invaluable for brands vying for attention in an increasingly competitive marketplace. So, it’s no surprise that more and more marketers are drumming up support from their executives for large-scale personalization projects.

But despite best intentions, the reality is that many personalization programs are doomed to fail from the beginning because of some unnecessary oversights.

Personalization marketing is a complex field, but when getting your program off the ground, there are three basic mistakes to avoid. Because knowing what not to do can often save you time and money and ensure you’re set up for success from the project’s outset.

Not Understanding What Personalization Marketing Is

How would you describe personalization to someone with no experience in the digital world? Would you even be able to? Believe it or not, many marketers have trouble clearly explaining what personalization is—even to their closest cross-functional partners. And most critically, to the executive leadership from whom they need buy-in. Simply put, personalization marketing is the tactic of using data and technology to create uniquely tailored experiences to individual customers.

Here are some examples of what a personalization campaign is and is not to help you clearly communicate its purpose and merits:

Optimization tactic titles with examples

Not Taking the Time to Plan Out Your Personalization Campaign
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Successful personalization marketers never launch campaigns in a haphazard manner. But where to start? Here’s a basic structure to get you going if you’re unsure where to begin:

  1. Begin with objectives for your brand: Great personalization campaigns start with a clear objective for your brand, not a metric.
    1. Metric: We need more visitors
    2. Objective: We need to increase average order value by 20 percent
  2. Prioritize campaign ideas: Take time to think about the level of effort vs. business impact. Just because a campaign requires a lot of heavy lifting does not always mean it can provide the most value to your brand.
  3. Be clear with your team about roles and responsibilities: Make sure you’re all on the same page about what they need to do so you can avoid delays due to lack of time or resources.
  4. Plan to iterate on your campaigns: Creating a custom-tailored experience requires fine tuning. Even if you launch a successful campaign, there’s always room to experiment and improve.
  5. Don’t be afraid to fail: Personalization is not easy so do not be discouraged if your first campaign fails. Learn from your mistakes and try again!
Over-engineering Your First Personalization Campaign

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Think of the brands that provide unique experiences that feel like they’re speaking just to you. A tailored experience feels natural and unobtrusive. It’s tempting to look at brands creating stellar personalized experiences like Amazon or Spotify and say, “Let’s just do that.”

Unfortunately, many marketers stifle themselves by searching for the “perfect” amount of data to support their personalization idea. Or, when dipping their toes into the personalization world for the first time they overreach.

Remember two things:
  1. There is no magical right amount of data that will guarantee success or failure of a campaign. You know your customer better than you think. If you have a creative idea don’t succumb to analysis paralysis
  2. Avoid looking for a silver bullet that will solve all your brand’s goals. Focus on racking up small wins that will help you learn to plan for more complex campaigns down the road.
Final Thoughts

Personalized marketing campaigns, when executed with care, can truly provide a meaningful experience for customers. By taking care with your approach, designing smart, iterative experiments, and adapting to what you learn, you can avoid the kinds of delays and dead-ends that can derail your longer term personalization efforts.