This post is the third installment of our series on successfully creating personalized digital experiences. If you missed our previous posts, you can catch up on the conversation here:

If you understand how personalization works, one of the final considerations is how can it work for you? In other words, how do you know if it’s worth it for your business–and your customers–to invest in a capability like personalization?

Whom is Personalization for?

Personalization can be useful to just about everyone at the broadest level-  retailers, Institutes of higher education, pharmaceutical companies, non profits…the list goes on. Those operating in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space, especially ecommerce brands, have already been using a level of personalization for years to help increase sales by showing us “more products like the one you just purchased.”

Likewise, many business-to-business (B2B) brands invest in personalization to achieve their own goals, whether that means generating more leads or recruiting better talent. Even nonprofits have exhibited the ability to use tailored content, calls to action, imagery, and more to drive greater online donations.

Other goals you might have, all of which add value to the digital brand experience, could include:

  • To create a more dynamic user experience
  • To engage users with longer–and more frequent–site visits
  • To build progressive customer profiles, even for anonymous visitors
  • To make a global site experience feel more localized across geographical boundaries

Still not convinced it’s the right move? Let’s look at a few scenarios where personalization adds context to help better inform a user’s decision, thus helping the following companies add value to their digital brand experience:

1. Amazon

Amazon and Personalization

Amazon is the classic example of an ecommerce brand that utilizes personalization to serve up specific content for each user. I recently purchased books about ethnography and an OAR album and here they are suggesting other, relevant products that relate to those I already bought, increasing the likelihood that I will make another purchase.

2. Hulu

Hulu and Personalization

Similarly, Hulu uses my past actions to recommend additional content that is similar to what I have already viewed. For example, since I’ve watched Modern Family, it’s pretty cool to see the way Hulu is targeting me with other new-age sitcoms (with minority casts, plots, etc.) like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, Black-ish, and Fresh off the Boat.

This all makes personalization sound like a silver bullet for the digital marketer of 2016… and it can be just as effective as it sounds. However, the reality is personalization takes a variety of forms, and most of them require significant capital to effectively implement. While personalization can almost certainly help you, your decision will ultimately come down to considering whether the investment is worth it.

When is Personalization Worth it?

The considerations regarding an investment (and ROI) in personalization at the business and project levels are threefold: cost, complexity, and continual governance.

1. Cost

Consider the size of your site’s traffic and the revenue it generates for your business. The technology and resources needed to roll out a comprehensive personalization program can add up, so at least a cursory overview of costs, benefits, and potential ROI is an important exercise for any brand to conduct before rolling ahead with personalization.

2. Complexity

In addition to resources, consider your team’s capabilities: Is this the right time, and do you have the right human and knowledge capital to tackle a project like this?

Personalization technology is like a new thread that must be intricately woven into the content management system of its host site, and timing is also a factor at play here. To use a homebuilding metaphor, a key opportunity to implement an addition like this can be when you are already doing renovations on your site, especially if you have an agency partner who can help complement your internal capabilities and resources.

3. Continual Governance

Ultimately, getting a personalization program off the ground is half the battle. Whether internally or with an agency partner, the time and resources involved in ongoing maintenance, testing, and optimization can be substantial– be sure to consider these costs when calculating your projected ROI.

If you need a mental model to start from, think of it as a digital advertising campaign: Launch some creative, and then A/B test headlines, copy, images, tweak the message to each audience for maximum effectiveness, and throw out what doesn’t work along the way.

Time to Make the Call

At this point, the tradeoffs and considerations around whether to invest (and to what extent) in personalization should be clear enough to help you make a well-informed decision. As we’ve seen, it’s a tool that just about any business, in any industry, with a significant digital presence can leverage– as long as the proper capital and capabilities are available to take full advantage of implementing it. Successful personalization requires a marathon mindset, and it will similarly pay dividends in the long term if you can properly manage it.

Stay tuned for our remaining summertime posts, where we will dive into the specifics of how to actually plan out, implement, and maintain a personalization campaign; as well as a shopping list of our favorite personalization tools, for when the time comes to select a vendor.

Still have questions about whether personalization is right for you? Get in touch today and one of our strategists can help you weigh the costs & benefits to determine your best path forward.

** Check out the fourth blog post in this Personalization Series

The Ultimate Guide to Tactics for Fixing Your Funnel