Kibo & PeakActivity Discuss Creating a Personalization Strategy



Kibo & PeakActivity Discuss Creating a Personalization Strategy

Young man browsing eCommerce platform
Young man browsing eCommerce platform

According to a recent Kibo study, 34% of North American companies now use advanced personalization tactics across the entire customer lifecycle, and 75% of all organizations used at least “some” advanced personalization. More significantly, 70% of companies that use advanced personalization have already earned 200% ROI or more from it.

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The Q&A

With adoption of personalization clearly on the rise, what is it that distinguishes the successful adopters from the unsuccessful ones? What are the potential challenges that instituting a personalization strategy may pose?

To answer these questions, along with many others, we turned to our own experts at PeakActivity, and those from our partners at Kibo Commerce. As a leading unified commerce platform and its certified implementation partner, both Kibo and PeakActivity, respectively, are uniquely qualified to weigh in on this subject.

What distinguishes the successful adopters of personalization from those who struggle with it?

Kibo: The common theme across Kibo customers who are leading the pack with personalization is a clear goal. Those with an objective like “to become the most personalized brand in our space” are best at overcoming all of the obstacles listed above, including the ‘fear’ element. All of the ‘obstacles’ discussed previously can be overcome with a clear goal and by utilizing the right solution.

PeakActivity: The most successful adopters are those who know their end customers best. They have clearly defined customer segments, and understand their differences in demographics, preferences, behaviors, and intentions… and they have the data to back it up. You’d be surprised by how many clients think they know who their end customers are, but have never actually collected any data or feedback from them. Only after we’ve set up programs to do proper user testing or gain qualitative feedback do some clients realize that their assumptions may not be accurate.

What are the biggest obstacles your own clients face when adopting a more personalized site experience?

Kibo: From our work with thousands of customers, we’ve realized that some of the obstacles are just perceived, while others are definitely real. Some of the common barriers that we see are confusion over the definition of personalization, a desire to be “data-ready,” using a platform that is ineffective and difficult to use, and a lack of expertise in the personalization field. Another potential issue is fear; the fear that comes from relinquishing control over the experiences that they deliver to their customers.

PeakActivity: As an industry, we need to do a better job of educating decision-makers on the benefits of personalization. Clients, especially the less tech-savvy ones, often see personalization as a “nice to have” that can happen down the road or in the future, rather than a “must-have” that will impact the company’s short and long term ROI. For our clients that have begun their journey towards personalization, prioritization is a big obstacle. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when beginning personalization, so we often work with them to prioritize the elements that are most important to start with, and then build from there.

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It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you’re not actually marketing to millions, but talking to a human individual. Companies that do lose sight of that are putting their organization at a distinct disadvantage
with potentially costly consequences.

Sara Meza Headshot

Sara Meza


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Ultimately, personalization is about creating a better experience for the customer. How have customer expectations changed over the last few years?

Kibo: Customer expectations have increased dramatically. Seasoned online shoppers expect their digital interactions to be on par or above other stores otherwise they’ll jump ship (with the click of a mouse). For those shoppers new to online, businesses need to translate in-store experiences online in order to keep them loyal.

PeakActivity: Pre-COVID, there were many mid to large-sized retailers that were happy focusing primarily on brick and mortar. Sure, they may have had some sort of online transactional capabilities, but eCommerce was viewed as a secondary business priority. COVID, in essence, flipped those priorities because customers suddenly expected to be able to buy online and have more flexible pick-up options. So, retailers quickly had to figure out how to create a more seamless, omni-channel experience, while being more nimble and offering things such as BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store) or delivery.

Personalization requires customer data. What challenges are you seeing in terms of clients having the right data to be able to feed personalization? What tips would you give to companies looking to utilize data for improved personalization?

Kibo: It’s no secret, without good data you can’t deliver tailored experiences. Surprisingly, the biggest challenge that we see around data is businesses focusing too much emphasis on data!

Many believe that in order to start personalizing the customer experience, they need to have a single view of the customer, invest in a CDP, etc. A good personalization engine will have a huge treasure trove of out-of-the box targets that you can use from day one (in session, traffic source, past behavioural, location, and much more). With these, you can start to see ROI immediately and at the same time, work on the bigger data projects to feed richer insights into the personalization engine when the time is right. Look for a solution that enables you to be data-ready from day one.

PeakActivity: To be successful in this area, companies really need to find out exactly who their core end customers are and what they want. We usually recommend a two-prong approach to achieve this. First, set up your passive metrics. These should include things like heat mapping or insight tags across key pages of your site, so you can work out where users are coming from, where they are going, what they are browsing, and what they are buying. This will allow you to create a user journey. Then, you want to pull in more qualitative metrics to create a persona that will help round out your picture of your end-user. This should entail conducting physical or virtual focus groups, where you gather users (either individually or in groups) who are in your target demo, sit them down in front of your site, and ask them to give you feedback about the site experience, product pricing, product selection, account creation process, etc.

Collage of professionals representing marketing segmentation

Personalization is predicated on the notion that different people have different interests and needs. Many companies do this through segmentation in order to personalize at scale. What challenges are you seeing in terms of clients creating segments? What tips would you give to companies looking to do this for the first time?

Kibo: We agree that the crawl, walk, run approach is a smart one.

The start of the personalization journey is about learning and seeing incremental revenue gains, the end goal is to become a customer experience leader. The tools we use at the beginning are testing and analytics, next up (alongside testing and analytics) we have rules based segmentation but, segmentation only gets us so far. Segmenting your biggest most lucrative segments is very worthwhile (VIP customers is a great place to start) but, as you then look to group smaller, less valuable audiences into segments the effort increases and the rewards decrease. Here’s where (alongside the previous tools), we need to lean on the power of machine-learning to deliver personalization at scale.

Visitor intent changes and groups of customers are rarely rigid. Adding to that fluidity, we have a huge array of data points (location, demographic etc), and digital elements (layout, messaging, recommendations etc) to personalize, segmentation can be overwhelming. A solution with 1-to-1 capabilities is invaluable as it enables you to ingest all of the data on a visitor in real-time and deliver an experience most likely to result in the metric you’re trying to improve. Segmentation can’t match that level of performance.

PeakActivity: One of the biggest misconceptions around personalization is that it requires each individual user to have a truly unique site experience. Not every business has the data to create Amazon-level personalization, and it’s not always necessary either. We suggest a crawl, walk, run approach. There’s actually a lot you can do in terms of presenting more relevant messages, content, and products simply based on data collected from a visitor’s IP address. For example, you can customize a homepage banner to say “welcome back” if you know they’ve visited before, or you can highlight cold-weather products only in certain geo-locations. For more advanced clients, segmentation is a great way to create a more personalized site experience. Purchase behavior, browsing behavior, brand engagement, site visit frequency, and order frequency are great data points to use to segment customers and influence personalization.

What’s the difference between a successful implementation and a missed opportunity?

Kibo: The key to a successful implementation is clarity and a clear objective. Clarity is the responsibility of the solution and partner, but the objective must be known by all stakeholders. In Kibo’s experience, our most successful and fastest time-to-value customers have been those who understand what the end goal is. Whether the business is focused on improving a specific element of the customer journey, or if they have a bigger vision like personalizing the whole customer journey, all of the stakeholders need to be in the loop.

PeakActivity: We agree. We’ve found the most successful implementations are those where all stakeholders are aligned on where the personalization should occur in the journey as well as the information that will be used to create a personal experience. Retailers have to understand what their customer is expecting, be it product recommendations, inspirational content, or location-based services. Keeping sight of who the end-users are when shopping across different devices and channels is key to successful personalization.

What’s the secret to the successful partnership between PeakActivity and Kibo? How do your joint customers benefit?

Kibo: By leveraging our technology, PeakActivity has helped retailers activate end-to-end strategies, setting clients up for success as they work to create the best possible omnichannel experiences for their customers. Whether it’s order management, eCommerce, or personalization, our partnership helps our shared clients become more agile at delivering seamless end-to-end experiences.

PeakActivity: Our clients are diverse and range widely across industries. They utilize a spectrum of existing technologies and tools, and Kibo makes it easy to integrate with their existing tech stacks. Whether it’s taking a test and learn approach through Kibo’s A/B testing tools or delivering personalized omni-channel experiences leveraging their AI, our shared clients benefit from higher conversion rates and improved customer loyalty.

Man happy while checking email on his phone

Our Advice? Take Everything Personally.

Implementing a personalization strategy has tremendous benefits for all kinds of businesses. What’s the best way to get the personalization ball rolling? Start listening to your customers, and then continue to gather feedback throughout the personalization process itself. This can help guide you and your teams as you create highly relevant, personal ways to communicate with your customers at the most influential moments in their customer journey.

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