Second of a two-part series

Overwhelmed by the idea of personalized marketing? Don’t be.

It’s easy to implement simple personalization and jump-start your efforts. At ARKE, many of our clients leverage Sitecore, a leading digital experience provider.

Recognized as a leader in web content management platforms by analysts including Gartner, Sitecore offers customers the ability to deliver, track, and analyze real-time personalized content, across websites, portals, e-commerce, email, and everywhere else within the Marketing Technology stack.

Let Me Drive Your Car Content

It’s fairly common for me to hear executives compare their company’s content management platform to an expensive, exotic sports car. They’re likely to make a comment such as, “…not sure we need to drive a Ferrari.”

That typically prompts a question or two from me, so I can better understand their pain points. Almost without fail, I’m able to confirm there’s no comprehensive long-term strategy in place to measure and scale in a way that demonstrates value at every phase.

Marketing Technology Alignment

At ARKE, we like to kick off our partnerships with an immersion process called the Marketing Technology Alignment. It’s essentially a series of workshops engaging all stakeholders in uncovering opportunities for improvement across marketing technologies, data management, resourcing and processes, producing a multi-year roadmap for success.

That approach helps manage realistic expectations across Marketing, IT and the businesses. (I like to say, “as long as you’re still able to get plenty of value, it’s OK to drive your Ferrari like a Honda until your organization is ready to go faster).

It also ensures accountability with specific, agreed-to metrics for success for all internal teams, as well as vendor-partner/s.

Personalization Essentials

It’s perfectly fine to start slowly. In fact, if you have the proper tools and strategy in place, you can execute simple, effective personalization without asking your website visitors for even one piece of identifying information

There are three main types of personalization:

Explicit Personalization

Imagine if the content on a fast food restaurant website adapted to the user, based on their most common purchases. For example, say every time I log in, the first thing I see are options for the food and beverages I routinely buy. Or, conversely, I see promotional incentives to try items I’ve never ordered before.

Explicit Personalization includes insights from:

  • Data you own in your customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning or other systems
  • Data you acquire from third-party sources

The third-party data integration is very interesting because it allows me to link anonymous visitor information (in real-time) with other sources of (publicly available) data to gain a better understanding of the visitor.

ARKE’s team has developed an advanced Software Development Kit (SDK) that includes modules for integrating a number of the most common third-party digital marketing tools. For instance, we can link an “anonymous” website visitor to an existing CRM record (maybe via an outbound email they clicked on), which allows for delivery of a personalized online experience based on information in the CRM record.

Implicit Personalization

Imagine if an electronics retailer changes your experience on its website based on the type of computer being used. If you are on a Mac and logging into the electronics retailer’s site, the home page can show you Apple-related products. if you visit from a PC, it talks to you about Microsoft-based products.

You may also like:  Congratulations to Sitecore for Maintaining Leadership in Gartner Study!

Implicit Personalization includes insights from:

  • Geographic location
  • Browser (Chrome or Internet Explorer)
  • Computer type (PC or MAC)
  • Time of day (morning or night)
  • Screen size

And, the great thing is that technology, properly implemented, can enable all the above. So, you don’t have to ask your visitors for any personal information before you give them something personally relevant … and demonstrate value for their visit.

Behavioral Personalization

The easiest way to understand behavioral personalization is to think about Amazon and the ways the brand adapts your online experience to what it knows about your purchase history and pages viewed.

Behavioral Personalization includes insights from:

  • Current visit activity
  • Previous visit activity
  • Referral source

3 Points About Personalization

Remember a few basics, and you’ll be off and running in no time.

1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

The key phrase is Crawl-Walk-Run Just commit to moving at a manageable pace. (Remember, someone has to create all of that personalized content).

But with consistent support from all stakeholders across your organization and regular analysis (including testing and optimizing to constantly improve results), you’ll be flying down the road in that Ferrari before you know it.

2. You don’t build trust and loyalty overnight

Customer relationships are no different from personal relationships. You wouldn’t walk up to strangers and immediately ask them for their emails, phone numbers, addresses, personal preferences, and more. They’d tell you to get lost.

It’s no different in the digital world. You need to earn trust and demonstrate some level of value (personalized content can help with that) before most people will eagerly share any amount of personal data, such as an email address.

3. Make sure you have a strategy

Don’t skip developing your strategy just because you’re eager to get started. It should include mutually agreed upon metrics for success.

You’ll have some failures along the way. That’s OK. If you test something and it doesn’t work, move on.

But it’s important to clearly define success upfront. For instance, how many more prospects were incented to give you their email address or download a white paper? Otherwise, you’ll have no way to determine where you are and where you want to go.

Next Steps

How can ARKE help you start or refine your personalization efforts?

Feel free to contact me at to share your comments and questions. I can also send you a copy of ARKE’s Worksheet for Getting Started with Personalization in Any Platform.

For More Information:

David Izenson is marketing technology director at Arke, where he helps clients better align marketing and technology to drive business objectives and deliver predictable and measurable results. He's a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park.