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Rethinking Personalization Measurement

Rethinking Personalization Measurement

Someone wise once proclaimed: if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.

Not only does this adage apply to website personalization but defining how you’ll measure personalization effectiveness is actually a great place to start when figuring out your overall personalization strategy.

Research among digital marketers shows that working with dynamic, personalized content is one of the most effective yet difficult marketing automation tactics. From a planning perspective, you need to consider several moving parts.

First there is the customer journey for each of your key segments, then there are the channels traversed, the data triggers used to fuel personalized experiences and the content variations displayed to the different customer segments that trigger personalization. And then there is the measurement part.

It’s perhaps intuitive to start the personalization planning process with mapping out segments and the customer journey. But what if you start by defining how to measure personalization effectiveness?

Personalization in Practice

Imagine you manage a website where the site’s top objective is to complete a transaction like submitting a web form, completing a booking or completing a purchase. You use online advertising and organic social content to attract site visitors. And you use a variety of editorial and product content to inform, engage and convert users based on the site’s micro transactions and the site’s top transaction.

Most web sites display the same content to all visitors. There is no digital listening. Regardless if a visit is direct or via a campaign, a first-time visit or returning, a loyal customer or a churn-risk customer. The site displays the same content and calls to action (CTA’s) to all visitors.

But using personalization, you can display dynamic, relevant content to a visitor who, for example, was previously attracted by an online campaign, has engaged with a micro transaction but has yet to complete your top transaction. You can listen digitally and engage relevantly.

This tactic of displaying relevant content and calls to action to a data-driven segment is an example of personalization in practice. You are essentially trying to steer a visitor thru the site using relevant CTA’s and supporting content.

Measure Personalization the Same Way You Measure Online Ads

With several personalized CTA’s displayed on your site – typically banners, nudging messages and supporting content — the question is: how should the effectiveness of these CTA’s be measured? Luckily there is a simple answer: measure personalization just as you measure online ads.

When it comes to website personalization measurement, you want to answer questions like:

  • For each personalized CTA, which are the most effective and why
  • Which personalized CTA’s are most and least effective
  • Where (on which pages) on the site are the most effective personalized CTA’s
  • What is the overall effectiveness of personalization on your site
  • What is the overall reach of personalized contents and CTA on your site
  • What channels are you able to leverage most effectively when personalization is used
  • What is the financial uplift when personalization is used to optimize traffic from paid sources
  • Based on the customer journeys I have defined, how effective is personalization at steering visitors through a given journey to complete the journey’s objective
  • What is the overall return on investment for your use of personalization
  • And you may also want to know:
  • What was the last personalized message displayed before the top transaction converted
  • What was the last personalized click before the top transaction converted

Measure impressions and clicks for each personalized CTA

There is no one, standardized way to measure digital personalization. But if you boil it all down, there is a simple practice you can employ to capture the core measurement data to answer the above questions. For each personalized CTA you use, measure impression and click through’s.

For example, let’s say you have defined a personalization journey for a segment of visitors who have previously entered the site via an online campaign, and you want visitors to book an appointment by completing a three-step form. You use three personalized banners to dynamically target visitors whose data reveals they are in this segment. The personalized banners are on pages where the respective content and form reside.

In this journey, for each personalized banner, you the following three personalization variants:

  • IF triggered campaign in past 30 days but not viewed form THEN show personalized CTA 1
  • IF triggered campaign in past 30 days, viewed form in current or any previous visit, but not submitted form THEN show personalized CTA 2
  • IF triggered campaign in past 30 days, viewed form in current or any previous visit, completed step one or two of form but not submitted form THEN show personalized CTA 3

Use Your Tools of Choice

Depending on your marketing stack, you can collect personalization measurement data in different ways. Of course, one key requirement is the ability to display personalized content and CTA’s based a visitor’s past and in-session data (based on cookie if anonymous or based on log in). When this is the case, you want to ideally be able measure impression of each personalization variant and click throughs each variant.

Measuring impressions and clicks can be done by defining a set of logically named events or triggers. Once these events are assigned to the respective content variants and link clicks, you are all set. You can use your tools of choice.

Use Sitecore 9 to Measure Personalization Click Through Rates

The Sitecore platform combines CMS with data-driven optimization capabilities such as personalization, AB testing, marketing automation, cross-channel tracking and a contact database that stores a variety of data for each visitor and visit.

Using Sitecore 9, impressions and click throughs of personalized contents can be measured using marketing automation. Essentially you create a marketing automation campaign for each of the personalized journeys you want to measure. You measure click throughs by assigning page events to clicks. Once active, the marketing automation campaign reporting feature shows impressions and clicks based on the number of contacts that are in different states.

Measure and Manage

All marketing tools and technologies present a learning curve. There is typically an initial honeymoon phase that may or may not be followed by a hangover phase before reaching success.

Often, a great place to start with a demanding capability like personalization – either handmade or powered by AI – is to define and prove a business case. And this one more reason why defining how you’ll measure personalization effectiveness is a great place to start with your overall personalization strategy.

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