What’s better than AI to fuel website personalization?
Midway through 2022, while optimism for the year is not at the same level as January, improving customer experience (CX) and personalization remain high priorities for companies seeking new ways to reach their growth targets. CX is proving to be the new battleground for brands and retailers, and the level and effectiveness of personalization has a key role to play in customer retention and growth. 71% of customers expect personalized interactions and companies succeeding in the marketplace with personalization are achieving 40% more growth than industry competitors.
With analysts consistently talking about the growth potential of CX and the importance of website personalization, it’s not a stretch to wonder why more companies aren’t jumping at the opportunity. Especially as more new technologies offering CX and personalization solutions enter the marketplace.
The challenge for many businesses is not the concept of personalization, as most agree it’s essential to meeting consumer expectations and gaining or maintaining ground in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Many marketers even acknowledge why personalization is important as consumers report frustration at being targeted with irrelevant marketing messages. But being able to consistently deliver the right experiences to unique visitors every time across all digital channels can seem like an overwhelming task. Especially when you’re talking about millions of unique visitors to a website on a daily basis.
Enter AI for personalized CX
The unease around adopting Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial intelligence (AI) as technologies is waning. Companies are seeing successful applications and use cases of true AI proving themselves in the marketplace. These range from recommendation engines to more advanced digital experience optimization solutions.
A specific advantage of AI is its ability to navigate the complexity characteristic of digital customer journeys and analyze vast volumes of data quickly and accurately. This in part, is what gives AI the capability to scale and speed up improvements in customer experience and advance personalization on digital channels to support growth.
Does that mean AI is the silver bullet for personalization or is there more to achieving growth in the current uncertain economic climate? While the capabilities of AI continue to increase and impress, AI alone is not the only answer, here’s why:
Website personalization requires skills, strategy and continual learning
Few companies have been exempt from the effects of the great resignation. As we emerge from a tumultuous two years, the future is looking equally uncertain. As a result, many employees are reevaluating their priorities and how work fits into their lifestyle.
A Gartner report highlights how the workforce has moved up the list of CEO business priorities to third position behind growth and technology. Growth may remain the top goal and technology the enabling tools, but expertise and skills remain the key drivers, and CEOs are recognizing the value that people bring to their companies.
When it comes to personalization, AI has the ability to identify relevant data, analyze it and generate insights quickly. It can even predict the best digital experiences to serve, to progress customers in their journey to buy. But all of this takes place as part of a larger strategy, formulated by teams with key optimization expertise. As organizational purse strings tighten and teams are expected to stretch their resources while still aiming for increasing growth targets, finding the synergy between expertise and technology can be the critical difference.
5 Considerations for CEOs looking to implement AI solutions for personalization
- Define personalization objectives: Personalization is highly subjective and a constantly moving target, which is one of the reasons it’s so challenging to achieve. It’s vital to take cues from consumers, learning from unique buying behaviors and how this impacts experiences being served. Targeting personalization because competitors are, isn’t enough, it needs to be defined and aligned with specific organizational goals. Defining what personalization should look like can help identify which technology solutions would be best suited to achieving those goals.
- Seek to create organizational alignment: Personalization is just one component of CX, and this is impacted by every consumer interaction. Which means every part of the business can impact the outcomes even if they aren’t aware of it. Creating alignment between marketing, IT, sales and operations increases the chances of success as all stakeholders not only understand what the goals are, but why personalization efforts are a key part of achieving them.
- Leverage expertise: Personalization is about building better connections with consumers and understanding what’s important to them. Many employees outside of marketing and sales have a good understanding of what this looks like due to their interactions with customers or experience in operations. Inviting employees to share these insights can give a business a distinct advantage. It’s the equivalent of getting zero-party data directly from customers and is highly valuable data.
- Identify key metrics and integrations: Personalization is achieved by aligning micro and macro goals as part of the customer journey. If the macro goal is increasing average order value (AOV), for example, this helps to define the strategy of how personalizing key touchpoints and micro conversions in the journey can contribute to increasing AOV. Similarly, looking at existing technologies and analytics that form part of the customer journey helps identify what integrations are required so that it’s easier to report on personalization efforts.
- Look for solutions that complement your way of working—Some companies are fortunate to have large optimization teams with a wealth of expertise. They’ll have well defined goals and technology needs. Others may rely on small teams, in which case there is benefit to technologies that offer a full service. This enables internal teams to focus on their key performance indicators (KPIs) while still being able to leverage the support and expertise to get personalization efforts up and running as quickly as possible.
AI may be the technology ideally suited to improving customer experience and personalization, but it works best when combined with optimization expertise and defined by a strategy with specific goals in mind. Focusing on the unique reasons consumers like and buy your products or services and experimenting with many unique ideas will help build better connections and personalize digital experiences in a way that delights customers and gets them to return.