Executive Q&A with John Andrews: Part II – A Deeper Dive Into the Data that Powers Personalization 


Part II of our interview on personalization and commerce with John Andrews VP of Product Management, Oracle Commerce.     



Q.  In Part I of your post you talked about having to have a good handle on your product and customer data to achieve personalization.  What if you are dealing with a new customer or have little profile data?  How do you personalize the experience? 

If yours is like most commerce organizations, you don’t have complete (or any) data of the vast majority of shoppers. New customers are the lifeblood of online storefronts, but building out profiles for every one can prove to be a near impossible task. The good news is that in addition to commerce platforms that can automatically collect this data, there are new ways to round out your customer information beyond how they interact with your site. Social data is a great way to take personalization to the next level and Facebook is the easiest – but certainly not the only place - to start. Facebook has loads of free, accessible information on their users like their demographics, even brands they like and their comments on products. Enrich product information and merchandising efforts by capturing Likes and user comments from the Social Graph. If appropriate for your business, get customers to log in with their Facebook account to leverage information to round-out user profiles and segments housed in your commerce platform.

While segments and personas help simplify the definition and delivery of tailored experiences, the reality is that no two members of the same segment have identical needs. This is why having scalable technology in place to deliver dynamic experiences that adapt to every visitor  - anonymous or loyalist – is critical.  With a solid base of customer profile information, segment information, and rich, well-attributed product information, the next step is having the right technology in place to put this data and content in to action.

Q.  How do you trigger personalized experiences based on this data?  

The delivery of personalized experiences can be done in a combination of different ways, with a few key systems and strategies working in tandem. Leveraging profile data at run-time in the user experience can start as part of the search and navigation experience – by leveraging elements of a user’s profile (or their anonymous behavior) to boost certain products to the top of the result set, trigger a product or content spotlight based on the search term, navigation refinement, or customer attribute information. As the shopper gets deeper in to the site, personalization can be driven through a rules engine in the commerce platform to define and promote products based on your rich customer and product data. A recommendations engine or behavioral targeting techniques, which constantly monitor every customer interaction leveraging wisdom of the crowds, can also be used to dynamically spotlight targeted content or products based on the user’s context and path. Layering on multiple personalization strategies to reach the entire spectrum of users – from adapting to an anonymous user based on their real-time behavior, to delivering a tailored experience from homepage to checkout to your loyalists based on their unique preferences – is key to true personalization. Very little can be predicted about what a customer wants ahead of time. That’s why a mix of strategies and data inputs (whether it’s profile data, real-time behavior, wisdom of the crowds or all three) is necessary to achieving personalization nirvana.

Q.  How do you make sure these experiences are consistent across touchpoints? 

Successful personalization programs have technology that can scale; taking from a myriad of data types and sources to deliver a more customized experience, wherever shoppers are.  With today’s connected consumers, there is no excuse for not having a consistent experience across channels – your customers won’t accept anything less.  This is not just on the web and on mobile but across the full customer experience lifecycle, including the service and support experience as well. Make sure your organization is investing in technology that can enable centralized creation of experiences, a single notion of the customer and their profile, and linked interactions across touchpoints.  Organizations who take a cross-organization approach with the right data and technology in place will (finally) reap the rewards of the long-awaited promise of personalization.

Want to learn more about personalization?  Join us on Feb 28th for a webcast on “Personalization Best Practices:  5 Strategies to Improve Your Commerce Customer Experience”  Learn more and register!

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