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2 key phases in getting started with personalization

Take a two-phased approach when getting started with personalization. First, build momentum, then expand and accelerate your efforts.

While helping many companies move from traditional A/B testing to more advanced personalization strategies for conversion rate optimization, we’ve identified two phases of getting started that are repeatedly important to success.

Phase 1: Build momentum

  • Identify and align with stakeholders: Start by choosing, communicating, and aligning with the right internal stakeholders who will be enablers, approvers, and supporters of your strategy.
  • Define key performance metrics: Think about the metrics that will have the biggest impact on your business and are top-of-mind for executive stakeholders. Share these metrics with them and have your stakeholders reaffirm back to you that these are good measures of success.
  • Identify a trusted measurement system: Once you have chosen your key metrics, identify the measurement system that will be your source of truth. This is the system you and your stakeholders should feel comfortable relying on to make decisions.
  • Test measurement end-to-end: As you get started, test the system end-to-end, from personalization through to measurement, to ensure you’re seeing accurate results everyone will believe. A simple litmus test is to ask everyone involved if they now feel comfortable acting on the results without validating the data again.
  • Develop your initial ideas: Once you have aligned with key stakeholders and defined and tested your measurement approach, you are ready to begin personalization. Your primary goal at this point is to show that you are generating reliable results quickly. We suggest starting with one key page on your site, often one that has high impact and high traffic. Choose three prominent elements of that page you are going to test with personalization. For example, test the headline, the hero image, and the call-to-action on your homepage. Then create three different versions of each element. For some additional tactical tips, see our video blog post on best practices to get started with personalization.
  • Share your results: Once your testing is starting to show initial results, share the progress you’re making and what you’ve learned with your stakeholders. Then keep updating them on progress regularly, building trust and confidence in your stakeholders quickly.

As you start shifting out of your momentum-building phase, you should have earned the breathing room to operate an ongoing personalization testing program because of some initial positive results and fast testing velocity.

Phase 2: Expand and accelerate

  • Build on your success: Once you’ve started showing positive results, use the initial set of winners to inspire the next round of ideas on that page. Create more versions that build on what you’ve learned. In addition, expand your testing by personalizing some new elements on the page.
  • Test more elements of your site: When your second round of ideas delivers even more lift, expand to other pages in your prospects’ journey such as landing pages and conversion forms. Spread your bets for each new page you optimize by testing many elements on each page with a few variations of each element. By adding only a couple more elements to a page, the number of total page combinations grows exponentially. This gives you more opportunities to learn about visitor behavior and shows how you’re testing even more quickly.
  • Iterate and repeat: Continue iterating on winners to develop new ideas to test on your mobile and desktop site. Your work in the momentum building phase should make this easier, both in terms of internal support and the muscle memory of putting personalization testing ideas into action quickly.

With your personalization testing in full swing, it’s time incorporate other functional groups into the project, if you haven’t already. Depending on how your organization operates, consider including members of design, editorial, product, and/or engineering teams to drive new ideas and scalable processes. It’s a good idea to review and align on roles and responsibilities for each new member of your cross-functional team. Who is an approver? Who is a reviewer? Who is included on an occasional status update email?

You’re personalizing at scale

Getting started with personalization doesn’t require a lot of work. Personalization lends itself to a two-phased rollout that can quickly show results with a focused effort and then build on that momentum. To drive an effective personalization testing program requires alignment and buy in from stakeholders, establishing collaborative and communicative relationships with peer teams, and sharing regular updates about wins and losses.

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