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Digital Testing & Personalization - How They Affect the Customer Experience

On Wednesday November 15th, IBM SmarterCommerce and Maxymiser hosted an excellent CXOchat. For those of you who weren't able to join but would still like to know Mark Simpson's views on personalization and digital testing, below is the "de-twittered" Q&A summary from the chat with Mark [@MarkJ_Simpson].

1. Is personalizing the customer experience part of your business objectives?

Forrester reports improving the customer experience is the #1 priority for business executives - any holistic CXO strategy includes personalization. CXO strategy is the focal point for an organizational framework that can swiftly and accurately deliver the experience customers expect.

2. What does "personalization" mean to your brand?

Defining personalization isn't easy but it's about the three main categories that cover the customer journey rather than a widget on a page.

3. What do you consider the three main categories?

User Experience (layout, flow), offers (brand & category level), and product recommendations/assortment/merchandizing. An example of a personalization campaign that has been successful for our travel clients is offering different content or an alternative journey through the funnel for different membership levels of a loyalty rewards program.

4. How do you identify the segments of visitors you personalize for?

Two ways organizations personalize with segments is to test and target perceived personas or proactively find different segments in the market with data & algorithms. It's really important to test your segments to work online and validate that they are segments online

5. How do you prioritize the order in which you will run campaigns that personalize the experience for each segment?

Prioritize campaigns based on the size & value of each segment – largest/highest value segments first. Start with the biggest impact! Segments should get more granular and targeted as you progress.

6. Are your personalization activities "owned" by the same person as your company's testing efforts?

We see a big variety – sometimes they are owned by different teams. Organized central functions are very successful/agile at large organizations. We see significant benefits in the two being owned by the same team.You find out if personalization campaigns are effective through testing. It's the only way of knowing your personalization is working with statistical confidence against a control.

7. How did you achieve buy-in to your testing and personalization program within your organization?

Start small, show great results, and expand from there. A simple well set-up A/B test will show big wins & lead to more investment. We see customers proving the case in as little as three months.

8. What is your opinion on the "360-degree view of your customer?"

Companies are working towards it, few are there - the 360 degree view is a moving target because we have increasingly more data and more touch points. You have to find out which data is predictive and which isn't to find which will improve the customer experience.

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9. What is the pinnacle of personalization in your mind?

A custom experience for every visitor (but we're a long way from that) – the best combination of elements for each visitor is more realistic. Organizations need to personalize through every channel.

10. Is testing a key part of your personalization strategy?

It's fundamental – otherwise how do you know if what you're doing is right or wrong? We see so many personalization campaigns that are good one week and bad the next because they're not being tested out to statistical confidence.

The next CXOchat will be on December 10th. Stay tuned on LinkedIn and follow @IBMSmrtCommerce #CXOchat on Twitter for more detailed info.

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