CRO.CAFE Podcast: Intellimize CEO Guy Yalif talks AI in marketing, personalization, and more

Many marketers were introduced to the concept of personalization with rules-based personalization — or creating “if this, then that” rules centered around specific audiences. However, an increasing number of companies are looking past rules-based strategies and shifting their focus to AI-based tools like Intellimize to scale their personalization programs.

In a recent CRO.CAFE podcast, Intellimize CEO Guy Yalif sat down with Co-Owner and Data Consultant at The Data Story, Niels Reijmer, and CRO.CAFE Podcast host, Guido Jansen, to talk about the state of personalization in marketing today and how he thinks AI will continue to shape digital marketing efforts in the future.

Throughout the podcast, Guido, Niels, and Guy discuss several topics on the minds of data-driven growth marketers, including:

  • Scaling from rules-based personalization to machine learning-based approaches
  • Strategies around personalization to create a better customer experience
  • Taking new behaviors into account during website personalization
  • How to measure the success of your personalization ideas
  • How to iterate on existing personalization ideas

Listen to the entire podcast by clicking here.

Customer Story: Drift sees 265% home page conversion lift with Intellimize

Located in Boston, Drift is a leading chat software and conversational marketing platform used by over 150,000 companies around the world. Using Drift’s customized chatbots, users can engage website visitors in conversations based on the page they’re currently on, creating better customer marketing experiences and sales potential.

Drift’s marketing team was accountable for a common task many digital marketers are familiar with: delivering more qualified leads to sales. Sara Pion, a growth marketer at Drift, wanted to use lead scoring platform MadKudu to score all incoming leads, then use Intellimize’s predictive personalization tool to create custom website experiences during the sales process.

Sara focused her website optimization goals on 3 of Drift’s most important website pages:

  • Home page
  • “Powered by Drift” page
  • Pricing page

By creating variations of content, layout, hero images, and more on these pages, and then using Intellimize to deliver the right combination to each unique visitor in the moment, Sara and her team were able to see some pretty impressive results:

  • 265% more leads on the Home page
  • 106% more leads on the “Powered by Drift” page
  • 102% more conversions on the Pricing page
  • 74% faster customer acquisition

For Drift, tailoring the pre-sale experience was key to seeing significantly more leads across the board. Download the case study by clicking on the image below to see how Intellimize was able use predictive personalization to boost sales opportunities and run multiple website tests in parallel at a faster rate.

Creating more customer-centric conversions with dynamic marketing

With more attention being placed on customer-centric approaches to sales and marketing, many data-driven teams have been turning their focus to dynamic marketing in an effort to better connect with prospects and drive more conversions.

What is dynamic marketing?

Dynamic marketing is all about knowing where an individual prospect is in their customer journey with you and deciding what content, experiences, and/or messages you want to share with them in order to drive more revenue and/or conversions.

Dynamic marketing often leans on personalization to meet prospects in their own individual journey. Teams who leverage dynamic marketing can follow this content flow:

  • Present first-time visitors with top-of-the-funnel content
  • Present repeat visitors with mid- and lower-funnel content
  • Present existing customers with cross-selling / upselling opportunities and the latest news / product enhancements

This approach helps marketers engage prospects with the right messaging for them at that moment to drive more revenue and/or conversions.

Dynamic marketing is all about knowing where an individual prospect is in their customer journey with you.

 

Why is dynamic marketing important?

  • Customers are not all the same: While it might seem simpler and easier to use the same messaging for all of your customers by using just one version of your website, it’s likely that you are leaving money on the table by ignoring where each individual prospect is in their journey with you.
  • People expect personalized experiences: Amazon, Netflix, Nike, Spotify, and others have made personalization a key part of their customer interaction, and many companies are following suit based on their success. People are now used to having brands interact with them based on their specific behaviors, interests, and needs.

We believe you should take a customer-centric approach, map out the prospect and customer journey as part of your marketing plans, and then connect that journey to the business goals you want to achieve.
For instance, perhaps you are a B2B company looking to drive more leads to sales. Or maybe you’re an ecommerce company looking to maximize cart checkouts. Or perhaps you’re accountable for more customer signups. No matter your objectives, applying dynamic marketing can help accelerate your funnel. Many begin implementing dynamic marketing with rules, which is hard to scale and maintain for most teams. This is why many companies are turning to AI to help them deliver dynamic marketing at scale.

People are now used to having brands interact with them based on their specific behaviors, interests, and needs.

How predictive personalization enables dynamic marketing

Marketers are turning to AI-based approaches such as predictive personalization to help deliver dynamic marketing experiences that better engage prospects and existing customers. For instance, using machine learning in our platform, marketers were able to:

  • Complete 25 years worth of website A/B testing each year on average.
  • Deliver an average of 46% lift in the metrics that mattered most to their business.

Here is how the process works:

  • The process begins with customer intimacy, walking a day in the shoes of your prospects and customers.
  • That customer understanding then inspires creative ideas to turn those prospects into customers by altering your website messaging, content, and more.
  • Marketers can then use AI to deliver the right combination of those creative ideas to each unique visitor, in the moment. Two visitors looking at the same site at the same time may see different things.
  • Marketers can then see how their creative ideas performed, refine their content and messaging, and continue the cycle.

Marketers can maximize conversions, customer acquisition, and/or leads to sales faster and with less work using dynamic marketing. AI can also take on mundane tasks such as checking in on website experiments every day to look for statistical significance so that teams can devote more time to empathizing with prospects, coming up with more creative ideas, and/or better supporting their sales teams.

Dynamic marketing has nowhere to go but up

The popularity of personalization and customer-centric prospecting shows that dynamic marketing is not slowing down anytime soon. With machine learning personalization tools like Intellimize that are practical and easy to use for marketers, organizations can now deliver the one-to-one, real-time personalization that we’ve been talking about for years.

Now, marketers can more easily do dynamic marketing at scale — to learn more, simply click the “Request Demo” button on our website.

Forbes: AI Mythbusters: Six Misconceptions about AI for Marketers

See Intellimize CEO Guy Yalif’s article, published in Forbes, which debunks common myths about AI in marketing to cut through the hype. 
 

Common AI myths debunked in this article: 

  • AI is going to replace marketing jobs
  • If I find the right algorithm, AI will take care of everything
  • I can easily hire people with the right AI skills
  • AI will be like Westworld or The Terminator
  • All AI vendors are telling me the truth 
  • AI is too complicated for me to use

Why it’s important to take more (strategic) risks with website optimization

It goes without saying that websites are important parts of most companies’ marketing strategies. Websites educate customers about your products and services, drive promotions, and — perhaps most importantly — help you drive more revenue.

However, as important as web-driven marketing is for many businesses, some companies take a “set it and forget” approach after their website launches. For some marketing leaders, making changes to their website might seem too risky or not worth the investment.

Respectfully, we disagree. Based on our experience driving thousands of personalizations for data-driven marketers with an overall 46% lift, we’ve laid out a framework and some suggestions below that we think could help you take a more strategic and revenue-generating approach with your website while still mitigating risk.

First things first: What’s the goal of your website?

Before talking about optimization, it’s important to ask yourself:

  • Why does our company have a website in the first place? 
  • Where does it fit in with our sales and marketing approach? 
  • What role does the website fulfill with prospects and customers? 

Or, if you have made some changes or ran tests on your website in the past, you might ask yourself, “Why did we invest time and money in updating our website?”

Typically, the answers to these questions fall into one or all of the following categories, depending on the type of business you’re marketing:

  • Acquiring more customers
  • Driving more revenue
  • Driving more leads to your sales team

With these goals in mind, can you take risks that have the potential to create bigger benefits for your business? Can you minimize the risk while you’re exploring new approaches?

We think the answer to both of those questions should be a resounding yes. Here are some ways that marketers are already optimizing websites, the pros and cons of these approaches, and some strategies you may want to take with website optimization to drive more revenue.

Why A/B testing alone won’t cut it

A/B testing is risky because you’re giving a lot of web traffic to an idea that may or may not generate business value.

While some marketers might take the “set it and forget it” approach we mentioned earlier, others have tried A/B testing: pitting two website ideas against one another concurrently with a 50/50 split. This is a great start, because you’re taking a data-driven approach to website optimization.

However, it’s also a bit risky because you’re going to give half of your traffic to an idea that may generate little business value or even hurt revenue. That could cost you a lot of money, and you’re only testing one idea at a time. Here are some other common shortcomings related to A/B testing:

    • Long waiting periods: It can take weeks or months before A/B testing can surface a clear winner, depending on the traffic to your site.
    • Inconclusive results: Even after waiting, you might not get a definitive answer.
    • It takes a lot of work: Marketers typically check their A/B tests every day. Then, if one idea reveals itself to be a clear winner, their engineering team is then tasked with implementing the winning idea across their site.
    • You’re treating everyone the same: Your customers have different motivations driving their purchasing decisions, and their buying behaviors change over time. With A/B testing, you’re searching for a “one-size-fits-all” winner that you’ll use permanently.

Why personalization is more effective

Your customers are not all the same, so why show the same version of your website to everyone?

Personalization is the next step in website optimization. With this approach, multiple versions of your website run at the same time with the goal of linking specific offerings to your prospects’ unique context.

If you rolled back the clock 10 years ago to tell someone that companies were going to have multiple versions of their websites live at the same time, most web marketing experts would have told you that the website would look broken and it creates too much risk.

However, a lot has changed since then. Many people now expect, want, and value personalization, in no small part due to our consumer experiences with companies like Amazon and Netflix. People are now comfortable going to websites and seeing curated experiences to help them find the products and services that resonate most with their needs and wants.

Mitigating risks with website personalization

If you believe in giving your customers a personalized approach with your website, then you want to take an approach that lets you test multiple ideas while minimizing risk and accelerating gains.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Try a lot of ideas

By running lots of variations, you’ll be able to see what’s working and what’s not more clearly.

In our experience helping companies launch thousands of personalizations, we’ve discovered that no one really knows which idea is going to be right in the moment for each visitor. One way to to mitigate risk with this? Test many ideas in parallel to see which of your ideas rise to the top.

Keep in mind that with personalization, your success is situation- and individual-specific. Website variations that help drive one customer to a purchase may turn off the next visitor. This is a different frame of mind than picking a single “one-size-fits-all” winner as you would with A/B testing. However, with personalization, the goal is not to find a universal winner, but rather finding the winning experience for each unique visitor in the moment.

Since there are no hard and fast rules with website personalization, as your customers and their buying patterns change over time, the key to success is being able to try a lot at once and then iterate quickly on the ideas that most positively impacted your prospects.

2. Drive buy-in at your organization

Getting buy-in with personalization drives better alignment across your organization, and can also be a great source of ideas.

As a leader in your organization, laying out a personalization program typically requires buy-in and alignment from the rest of your executive team.

You should also ensure that the key stakeholders within your marketing organization, whether they are content strategists, creative professionals, or growth marketers, understand your approach to personalization and how they tie into your company’s goals.

This alignment can lead to better outcomes. For example, often we find some of the best ideas come from people who are on the front lines with customers every single day, such as your sales team or customer success team. Getting buy-in from outside of marketing is not only great for overall alignment, but it can be a great place to get ideas on what to try to address the core pain points of your prospects and customers.

3. Create a ‘hold-back’ group while testing

Creating hold-back groups can help you compare pre-personalization and post-personalization efforts while website testing.

What is a ‘hold-back’ group? A hold-back group is a portion of your web traffic that’s shown the “base” version of your website (from before you started testing).

Why do you need a ‘hold-back’ group’? Hold-back groups are great for comparing pre-personalization and post-personalization results. Let’s say your current conversion rate is 5%. The next day, your team ran some website tests and the conversion rate was 3%.

You won’t actually know if those tests drove the 3% decline. Maybe you also changed the messaging on your ads, and the overall conversion would have gone to 2%, but because of the testing you were running, it only went down to 3%.

To eliminate this uncertainty, you need a hold-back group while running website personalizations to compare apples to apples. Not only will the comparison offer more clarity into what’s working with your variations, but the rest of your marketing org can gain comfort in the risk involved when you’re trying new personalization ideas.

4. Really get to know your customers

Customer-centric approaches not only help you lower risks by testing better ideas, but they reinforce to the entire organization that your buyers aren’t all the same.

It goes without saying that customers should be a priority for any business in general, but there are several key benefits from taking a customer-centric stance on your website:

  1. You’ll lower risks simply by testing better, more targeted ideas. The more focus you put on your customers’ needs and pain points, the better your tests are likely to be. Customer empathy doesn’t just help mitigate risk: It’s an important part of delivering compelling messaging and connecting your products and services to your visitors’ daily lives.
  2. You’ll help the organization understand that your buyers are not all the same. This can help you paint more vivid pictures of different customer segments. For instance, you could illustrate that your teen audience resonates with a specific type of messaging compared to an older audience based on the variations you’ve tested for each, and you could speak to those more directly.

5. Be transparent

It’s important to be transparent about which of your ideas worked and which didn’t. Website personalization is less of a power struggle of what is right and what is wrong and more of an ongoing, iterative process of idea → test → result → idea. Even failed website optimization ideas are learning experiences because they give your team insight into what direction you should not take with your customers, and those are also worth sharing with your team.

When it comes to website optimization, it’s important to take some risks with the ideas you are testing as a team when you have solid strategy set in place and buy-in from the rest of your marketing organization. To learn more about personalization approaches and how they can drive more revenue for your business, simply click the “Request Demo” button on our website.

Total Retail: 7 tips for boosting cart conversion rates

Online retailers know how important their shopping carts are. However, the strategies behind their creation were mostly driven by gut feelings in the past. With AI and personalization tools, marketers have more resources than ever to get more insights about online ecommerce behaviors that can help drive more visitors to checkout.

Words matter: How to write effective copy for better conversions

Many things come together to create a high-performing website. As a marketer, one of the most powerful components is web copy. The words you use can have a direct effect on sales and client retention.

Why? Copy is a core website building block that both describes and helps you sell products or services. Every word matters. Despite its importance, website copy is far too often put on the backburner at many companies when they are creating websites or undergoing a website redesign.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for every website when it comes to copy. However, we have found in helping run thousands of personalizations that some general messaging guidelines increase the odds of driving more conversions. Check out these techniques to see if they can help you maximize the effectiveness of your web copy.

 

1. Know your customer’s needs

Before you ever put pen to paper, you need to empathize with your customer’s needs. You need to walk a day in their shoes and understand what’s important to them. Here are some questions that can help you understand customer intent to better inform your web copy:

  • For business customers:
    • What will get them promoted?
    • How are they evaluated in their jobs?
    • What are the most pressing trends facing your customer’s industry?
  • For consumer customers:
    • What emotions do they feel around the category of product you offer?
    • What kinds of emotions do you want your customers to feel while using your product or service?
  • What are the biggest stresses your customer faces on a day-to-day basis?

Answers to these questions can help you write more effective copy, as you can tailor it more easily to their needs.

 

2. Explain what makes your product or service unique

In order to make your product or service sound exciting and impactful, it’s absolutely crucial to have a deep understanding of how your product or service works and how your offering differs from the competition.

You do not, and typically should not, list out all of the differences. Instead, focus on the features that matter more to your customers, which you’ve outlined above in the first technique we shared. Marketers often refer to these as “key differentiators.”

While customer needs and situations are the main actors in your copy, key differentiators are important supporting pillars in the words you write. Using key differentiators and customer needs consistently should guide your headlines, copy, calls to action, etc., so that you can effectively connect your product or service into your customers’ daily lives. You should use a similar, consistent approach across all of your marketing channels to reinforce these messages.

Evernote lists their key differentiators clearly in their hero section copy.

 

3. Pay attention to your verbs

Most website copy serves one purpose: getting your customers or prospects to take action. Whether it’s clicking “Add to Cart” or getting a prospect to sign up for a demo, calls to action are where web copy turns into results for your business. That’s why writers and marketers need to pay special attention to the verbs they are using. Make sure they are clear, concise, connect to customer needs, drive the action you want, and invoke a sense of urgency.

Why does this customer need your product or service, and why do they need it now? This is the underlying theme that needs to be reinforced with the verbs you use. Stay away from flowery language, and ensure you’re speaking to the needs and key differentiators you’ve already outlined above.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to use more direct calls to action with prospects that have engaged with you repeatedly, or prospects that are further down the sales funnel. Sometimes these visitors are on the fence and need a more aggressive nudge to take the next step.

Lyft does a great job of incorporating action words into its headlines.

 

4. Keep it short and simple

As you’re trying to work in all of your messages, conciseness can be a tough thing to do as a writer. You’re really excited about your product or service, you know it’s going to help your prospect succeed, and you want to include every last detail.

However, unlike a great novel or screenplay, marketing copy is intended to be processed quickly. You want your readers to quickly understand your offering, see value, and stay focused on the actions you want them to take. Although you want to pack in every last idea, allow yourself to not be comprehensive and instead focus on the most important differentiators and points you want to make.

Keep your sentences short. Usually if a sentence is longer than three lines, you should say the same thing in fewer words or split the sentence into two.

Choose words that everyone can understand. Chances are, your customers aren’t interested in reading jargon or seeing how advanced your vocabulary is. A good rule of thumb? Stick to a 5th-8th grade reading level. There are several platforms like that can help you find out what reading level your writing is at and help you edit accordingly. Here are a few we recommend:

 

5. Write in a positive, active voice

Whenever possible, write in the active voice rather than passive voice. In most cases, it makes your copy easier to understand and gets to the point faster. Here’s an example:

Passive voice: The dog was walked by her.

Active voice: She walked the dog.

We’ve also discovered that using affirmative, positive language can, in the right situations, have a big impact on conversion rates. For example, one of our ecommerce customers, Stella & Dot, tested 400+ versions of its cart page through our predictive personalization platform. It turned out that using affirmative language like “You’re going to rock this!” (see image below) was one of the highest performing ideas that, together with all of their ideas, drove a 52% lift in conversions to the checkout page.

By adding affirmative language like Stella & Dot did in this example, you can help customers feel good about interacting with your brand.

 

6. Be a storyteller

Would you rather read a collection of industry-related stats about new groundbreaking medicine, or a story about how that medicine helped make a person’s life better or easier? More often than not, people are drawn to the story first, then focus on the stats later.

Why? Our minds are naturally wired for empathy and we like having real-world examples to reference, especially when we’re making purchasing decisions. Connect your copy to elements of storytelling, such as using specific examples about how your company helped someone, to humanize your product or service. Show how your offering impacts actual people rather than just focusing on metrics and functions.

Make sure to reference how and why a person is using your product or service in addition to cool features. Give your customers examples of other people using the product or service, whether it’s a case study, customer testimonial, or simply a hypothetical demonstration of how a person would ideally use your product or service.

Google’s blog, The Keyword, features real-life stories about how their products have helped people in their day-to-day lives.

 

7. Know when to show them and tell them

Customers are typically drawn to stories, and they are also often drawn to visual content. In general, people like to be shown how things work, especially if the concept is complex or has multiple steps. If this is the case with a part of your product or service, consider explaining concepts or demonstrating how your offering works with visuals alongside your copy. Consider using video, infographics, images, or diagrams as powerful accompaniments to written copy.

                     Airbnb combines short, compelling web copy with engaging visuals to showcase their Experiences offering.

 

8. Write unique web copy for each audience and/or stage of the sales funnel

It’s important as a marketer to meet your prospects and customers where they are in the sales funnel with you. Recognize where your customers are based on their behaviors on your site, and then personalize their web copy, experiences, and offerings. Here are some questions that might be helpful as you develop copy for different audiences and/or stages of your funnel:

  • Is this visitor a prospect or an existing customer? If a prospect, is this their first visit or a repeat visit?
  • For a repeat visiting prospect, where have they engaged on your website before and what can this tell you about them and their needs?
  • For existing customers, are there other products or services you offer that would be helpful to them? Are there new upgrades you’ve launched recently they might find valuable?

Answers to these questions and more can help you tailor web copy to meet your prospects and customers where they are in their relationship with you. For instance, you may include the latest release and cross sell content for an existing customer, while focusing on introductory overview copy for a first-time visitor.

 

9. Your web visitors change over time. Your copy should too.

Not only is each individual customer different, but their purchasing patterns and preferences often change over time. Additionally, the mix of prospects that you bring to your site changes as you change your marketing efforts. Their behavior on and reaction to your website also changes as your competitors change their marketing. A consistent flow of ideas based on your customer’s interactions with your company, and the iteration of those ideas, can help you find what works for your customers and prospects.

To truly maximize conversions as customer behavior changes, marketers should test many web copy ideas concurrently, and test often. To see how you can incorporate some of these web copy techniques faster with predictive personalization, simply click the “Request Demo” button on our website.