To Personalization and Beyond! The Evolution of Optimization

Once upon a time, ownership of data was not a concern for most companies -- getting your hands on any data was all that mattered. However, the landscape of optimization has changed immensely over the last few years. Gone are the days of developing consumer channels built on rigid data sets that hold limited value to your company. Now we are entering into a new era with more available data, which comes with a more focused lens on whom and what to target. 
Today, non-ownership of data will set back any company from the main objective. It’s all about building, developing, and maintaining customer profiles for accurate optimization and unique personalization. When it comes down to it, third party data does not effectively allow companies to do this. Let’s delve into why this has become the case.
Data management beginnings 
Your data management platform (DMP) was initially designed or intended to build segments through third party owned data. In turn, the segments were used as the basis to drive campaigns. Now, third party data is one of many inputs of data that are available to companies. As technology advances, the access to more data is ever expanding. In the past, the data may have been collected on just a particular segment of people within a defined channel. Today, it is based on capturing a single user experience across multiple channels. 
The evolution of optimization is built around one simple idea: improving personalization. Today, any company has the potential to have an excess of data that allows for more detailed targeting across multiple channels, which leads down the path of a more defined personalization experience for the consumer visiting your site. However, therein lies the problem: how do you get at a more defined personalization approach?
An education in re-edcuation
Here’s an interesting statistic: The majority of brands (77%) believe real-time personalization is crucial, yet 60% of marketers still struggle to personalize content in real time. So, how can they bridge that gap?
It starts with an optimization and personalization program that relies on education, and in some cases, the “re-education” of all stakeholders. Education is the driving force that makes your analytics program excel -- great personalization is a by-product of this. Without buy-in from all resources, achieving reliable single-customer view data for personalization would be difficult at best. Once you have the proper culture and direction in place for the analytics program, the personalization can truly begin. 
Flexible personalization
The next hurdle most companies face is being force fed third party data from technology vendors they have come to rely on far too much. In simpler terms, paying someone else to fish for your company has to stop. At this point in the game, companies that do not want to own their data are getting left behind by rival companies that do. 
If you want to do this right, creating accurate profiles through a data layer specifically designed to be non-reliant on any one technology vendor is the way to go. Flexibility based on yet to be determined advances in technology is a vital component of the execution of your company’s long term personalization strategy.
The idea behind this is simple: building your own digital environment that works with your growing technology is a far simpler solution that is much easier to maintain. The alternative is your technology vendor builds a data layer that only works with their technology they control. Further down the road, the vendor specific technology could potentially limit your ability to collect, define, and report on your very own data. Not to mention, your historical data becomes dependent on a technology vendor until you cry “uncle”. 
Testing the waters
The last step to better personalization and optimization is good testing that is tied to your core business objectives, with the goal of integrating testing into product release schedules. Proactively working with brand managers and product mangers on weekly testing releases holds stakeholders more accountable thoughout the process, while maintaining the culture and identity of the analytics program. In addition to testing, you can take it a step further by applying better personalization features and design as part of the overall development process. 
The long term viability of a Consumer Experience Management solution should be geared towards cultivating and catering to your customer’s experiences through unique individual personalization. Getting to that point is a major battle and requires an ability to utilize all of the varying technologies available to your company in order to make accurate data driven decisions. However, it needs to happen -- the new era of optimization is here and it’s all about personalization. Get on board!
By Kyle Westgate
About the Author:

Kyle Westgate is Manager, PMO at Stratigent.

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