It seems everyone even remotely related to retail these days talks about personalization ad nauseum. But considering how much everyone talks about personalization, very few retailers are actually pleased with the impact of their efforts.
So what gives? A lack of buy-in.
The Top Organizational Barriers to Personalization
A recent Boston Consulting Group study found that nearly 75% of marketers consider a lack of resources the primary reason for not meeting their personalization goals. An additional 61% cited inadequate cross-functional coordination and project management as a top barrier.
Also cited by 61% of marketers: Lack of a clear roadmap. And there’s your real culprit.
From all the talk about personalization, it’s clear that retailers are willing to invest in these initiatives. But how can you make an investment if you don’t know what you’re investing in? You can’t, and that’s likely where most retailers hit a wall when it comes to getting personalization off the ground.
The lack of a clear roadmap goes hand-in-hand with the other top organizational barriers to personalization. Sure, retailers have invested in traditional “personalization vendors” that offer product cross-sell widgets and site A/B testing solutions. But those are just tools to introduce tactics that are part of a larger personalization strategy. And that’s where marketers get stuck. Without a clear set of strategies and measurable goals that outline your vision for a personalized future, you won’t receive the large scale investments you need to achieve your personalization goals. Buy-in from key sponsors in terms of both time and money become non-starters.
How to Get Buy-In for Your Personalization Initiatives
To get any personalization initiatives off the ground, you need executive buy-in, budget and cross-functional support. At the highest level, the key to securing those resources is simple: Clearly communicate your needs, goals and strategies to the folks holding the purse strings.
Of course that’s easier said than done, so let’s take a look at exactly what that takes.
It all starts with a roadmap. Far too often, the personalization roadmap comes after making the ask for budget to tackle personalization. But that makes the ask exceedingly more difficult, lowering the chances of getting the budget you want (or any budget at all).
Instead, you need to pair your budget ask with a detailed roadmap about what personalization will mean to your organization. Describe how the customer experience will change across touchpoints. What departments will need to be involved? What processes will need to change? Which mass communications will need to disappear as a growing amount of your outreach is personalized? This roadmap should make clear your personalization goals, strategies and tactics to achieve those goals, what you plan to invest in, the technology and other resources you need and the order in which you will tackle it all.
How to Turn Buy-In Into Results
Once you get buy-in, your work has only just begun. To retain that buy-in, you need to deliver results — and that requires a successful roll out of your personalization roadmap.
During the roll out, the most important thing is to think small. Rather than putting all your plans into motion in one big bang, you’ll find more success by taking an iterative, team-based approach.
For example, if you want to start with email personalization, you should work directly with your email team (and only your email team) to get that set up. This narrow approach makes it easier to focus on gaps you need to fill, such as building new templates or creating new content to power more targeted emails.
Eventually, you’ll reach the point where what needs to happen extends beyond the scope of your email team, and that’s when it’s time to loop in the next team. In the case of email, that might mean talking to your brand marketing team to set guidelines around email frequency or working with your Facebook team to target customers with a high likelihood to unsubscribe from emails. The key is that as your initial efforts settle into place, everyone’s thinking around personalization will become more mature and looping in the next team will not only feel more natural, but will also allow for a more coordinated effort.
Tackling each initiative on a team-by-team basis might sound counterintuitive, but it’s exactly what will make your personalization roll out go smoothly. That’s because it allows you to:
- Create a personalized roll out experience: Somewhat ironically, this type of phased roll out allows you to take a personalized approach to executing your roadmap. When you go team-by-team, you get in front of a small group with shared interests and workflows, which makes it possible to have a more targeted, relevant conversation about what’s needed and the impact of changes on specific people.
- Apply lessons learned along the way: This team-by-team approach also means you can take lessons learned from one team and apply them to the next team’s roll out, allowing you to refine your approach over time.
All of that said, as you take this iterative approach, it’s essential to remain clear about how all of the smaller efforts fit into the bigger picture outlined in your personalization roadmap, as you should be able to demonstrate that connection to your key stakeholders at all times.
Are You Ready to Get Started with Personalization?
As you look to make personalized marketing a reality for your retail organization, don’t underestimate the power of a clearly defined roadmap. It may just be what makes or breaks your ability to get the buy-in you need.
Ready for more? Check out our eBook on the email personalization problem for insight into what personalization might look like for your organization.