Planning for Personalisation

Ingredients to make Chocolate cookies. Image CC CKBK

Recently both my colleague James Darrell and myself spoke at SUCGON 2022, showing attendees 5 real word examples of how to use Sitecore CDP & Personalize tools. 

Rather than talking through the examples using a vanilla sandbox environment we wanted to make this relevant to the real world and so went to work producing a living breathing site

The talk itself is below, so please give it a watch, but in this post I wanted to run through the steps we undertook (in a little under 3 months) as these are exactly the same steps that teams will go through when they plan for personalisation. 

Step 1 – Build a team

Guides and Sales might mislead you that this is a one person job, but reality is that it is a team game. You don’t need much resource, but the resource you do need comes from a variety of roles/ skills sets (reinforced in the image below, a slide from Alison Sainsbury and Jacqueline Baxter presentation “How to grow your Cult of Optimization“)

  • You need the technical skills (for what is technically possible and what needs to be built); 
  • You need the marketing skills (for what is happening already and what campaigns are coming)
  • You need the UX, content and design skills (for what is visually possible and pure content generation); 
  • Finally, You need Strategic skills (for business alignment and bringing this all together)
Alison Sainsbury and Jacqueline Baxter speaking at SUGON 2022 on How to grow your Cult of Optimization. Slide shows the make up of a team with development, design, content, growth and strategic teams together

Like any good agile team, it is important that the team talk early and often. Again not long periods of time, but short regular catchups. In this area there are a lot of other moving parts. Sites are either getting built or iterated up, campaigns are often running, designs are being tested and many other tasks that will give your personalisation team other things to occupy themselves with. 

By having these regular calls, it keeps the team aware of activities, but it also drives momentum and manages expectations. 

Step 2 – Focus on the opportunity

Sounds an obvious one, but you can’t go into personalisation or optimisation on a whim; this is something that should be in your minds before any code has been written

Digital experiences are seldom in isolation (just a website or just an app); they are part of a omnichannel experience. With that being the case, you need to take a step back and lay out that experience. Now you can start to zone in on the opportunities. Is it the website, the app, the connections to and from a CRM. Is it the socials or IoT activities? When you start, focus on one area. Learn and then scale.

Step 3 – Focus on the micro-opportunities

Desirable, Viable, Feasible CC UX Planet

[Desirable] With the initial target identified we now need to focus on micro opportunities that can deliver value. In the step before we talking about mapping a journey from a high level. Now we repeat this but at a detailed level. We need to map the journey(s) the touch points, the pains, the transactions and more. You can’t do this alone so grab those in the know, the researchers, service designers, those in the flow (help desks, front of house, social media teams). With a map complete we can see the journey, but also understand it.

[Feasible] At the same time we need our tech architects to understand the tooling. What is the stack, what versions are we on and what possible opportunities are there (upgrades/ integrations). 

Whilst the first part of this step opens up the possibile. It is important that we stay within the now. 

[Viable] With these two activities complete we can begin to prioritise. You can prioritise a number of ways (using a variety of models) but it is important to structure this on what can add instant value. There is no point running a test that isn’t impacting on an opportunity; equally there is no point attempting a test that the infrastructure cannot accommodate. Target the test we can run and target the tests that add value (eg a positive impact on a KPI – Sales, Growth, Sign ups… or learnings for the team – we have identified a new segment)

Step 4 – Work together – Work smarter

Finished Roles and Responsibilities board cc Atlassian

A very important task at the start of any project is roles and responsibilities. Including stakeholders, get the team together and first write down the team roles (not the person per say). Now in isolation, let each member write down what they think those roles are responsible for and then place them on a wall/ board. Of course remember to miss out your own role. Then together, go through each role and set of notes. Finally, get the person who does that role to then have their say. Are they correct, should some tasks be moved to another role, equally are some missing. After all the roles there will be an agreed understanding of who does what. So when that time comes to do that task, you can now go straight to said person rather than asking everyone under the sun. 

Some teams have daily standups, but for smaller projects this can get a bit extreme. That said, it is important to set regular cadence and stick to it. These are opportunities to update and communicate, but they are also opportunities to pivot and adapt to new situations. This is certainly the case when implementing personalize and CDP. It is essential to keep each other up to date and to alleviate blockers at speed.

A staple of optimisation and personalisation is to test, learn and repeat. No one has a magic button, but testing often, absorbing the outcome and repeating will make you more likely to get positive results in the long run. 

Most importantly share those findings, share the good and the bad. Share what worked and what didn’t (not just the test, but the implementation).

The Session

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Posted in Personalisation, Sitecore

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