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CX & Design July 27, 2016

Moving Towards progressive personalisation


Personalisation is a key digital tactic for enterprises looking to gain competitive advantage through improving relevancy and customer experience, yet pitfalls, frustrations and challenges are still prevalent. Often organisations lack a coherent strategy around personalisation, and are hampered by legacy systems that don’t integrate with one another. As technology and the information that can be derived from it is rapidly evolving, it is those with a solid strategy and the right mix of C-suite buy-in and integrated technology who are poised to maximise the opportunities personalisation presents.

Make no mistake, personalisation can be challenging. As personalisation capabilities of technologies contiunally improve and organisations move it up the priority rankings, those without a clear strategy, support, tools and platform will lose out as their competitors start to get personalisation right.

Getting to Grips with Data

Website analytics, e-commerce analytics, email analytics, CRM analytics, the list could go on. The potential for data to be overwhelming is palpable. There is also the prospect of too little data, either because something valuable isn’t being collected or it is simply sat in a database somewhere, unused and ignored.

When starting to examine the challenge of personalisation there are some key things to consider about the data that enables it to happen:

1. Goals and Outputs

Rather than collecting masses of data just because it’s available, think about what you are hoping to see as a business from the data. What will help you get there? Also consider who will need to use this information and what format it will be presented in. A robust Digital Measurement Framework can be invaluable here.

Whatever your KPIs are, the data that you collect and the systems that you integrate to communicate that data should be based on them.

2. Inputs and Limitations

What are the key data sources required to achieve the goals you have agreed? Make sure you know the reliability, consistency and legal use of the data you are collecting. Consider whether you have enough technical, editorial and marketing resources required to manage the content and data.

3. Build Strong Foundations

Personalisation isn’t just about short-term profits, it is about creating a platform you can continue to build on. Instead of creating a huge budget in data from day one, invest intelligently in technology and expertise that allows you to make use of the data-sets that matter for your organisation. From there you can add to the platform as technology, requirements and your capabilities evolve.

Developing Personalisation in Your Organisation

In order to create these strong foundations and include personalisation strategy as a pillar of your digital roadmap, it’s worth thinking carefully about the broad stages for developing personalisation within your organisation.


Your teams know about personalisation and some of them would like to do more with it, but there is insufficient data and/or inadequate technology. Only a small amount of audience segmentation and analytics insight is utilised. Buy-in from the wider company is minimal and your generic content is performing poorly.

Stage Hand

Personalisation is recognised by the wider organisation with some buy-in and commitment from executive level. Unconnected systems are being brought together and a degree of segmentation, marketing automation and analytics is being undertaken. Content is translated.

Cast Member

Data from a variety of sources is connected, including that from A/B and MVT testing. Advanced segmentation and marketing automation are being used to tailor content to the account or user and drive revenue. Personalisation strategy is a key part of the overall approach to digital.

Star Performer

Teams across various areas of the business develop and rollout segment-specific, highly relevant, sequenced content together. The digital platform is fully integrated, giving a single customer view, and new capabilities can be developed. Personalisation strategy drives competitiveness and revenue, and is seen as a core aspect of the business.

Wherever you feel you are currently on this scale there are always ways to improve and market changes to adapt to. Therefore, create a strategy that helps you reach your goals while maintaining flexibility.

Progressive Personalisation

All organisations I’m sure, would like to instantly arrive at the Holy Grail of being able to see the whole customer journey at a glance and continue profitable long-term relationships from that. Unfortunately, users do not arrive as fully engaged customers.

Instead, there is a journey through some broad categories that any user will go through. What you can do is aim to understand how these phases fit your organisation and what will be your strategy for progressing your customers through them.


Basic website personalisation based on device, keywords, location, campaign and referral.

  • First Engagement: Trade show signup and/or initial email contact.
  • Opportunity: Capture relevant CRM data, setup rules/criteria for user profile, determine relevant content.
  • Goals: Further engagement, particularly on the website.


Greater personalisation based on multiple website visits.

  • Engaged User: Seeking information on company credibility and products/services of interest.
  • Opportunity: Display relevant content, incentivise purchase and create cycle of connection by looping back in to other channels – email/live chat etc.
  • Goals: Deep engagement, convince to purchase/enquire.


Advanced personalisation based on known user behaviour and deeper engagement from conversion or other action.

  • Converted Customer: Engages in a range of ways and shares content with peers.
  • Opportunity: Build long-term relationship, provide with personal dashboard and content hub with indispensable resources.
  • Goals: Create a long-term customer and advocate for your products/services in the sector.

Allow customers to shape their journey through their engagement with your website and other data sources, then take the relevant information from that and identify where you can give them (and you) a helping hand by adding value. This means providing the user with the content they need to make a decision at the best time possible.

Techniques such as rigorous testing to see what works for your users and tools such as Sitecore’s context marketing are invaluable in this process.


Plan your path to personalisation around goals that work for you and consider whether this needs to be part of a broader revamping or optimisation of your current digital platform.

Personalisation touches on many areas, and can be an important part of digital strategy that will be adaptable to change and drive ROI.

However, there are challenges. Outside expertise from experienced teams, like those here at Dept, could be the difference between paying lip service to this developing trend while continuing with a disjointed, outdated approach, and having the strategy, technology and support to make personalisation a real asset to your organisation.

Questions? We're here to help!


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