Why personalization is not a question of technology

Crowd in a big city with sunset in the background
Author: Mathias Reinhardt | Donnerstag, 7. Dezember 2017
Category: Technology

On the use of digital marketing suites

Personalization – isn’t that technology’s job? Unfortunately, expectations like this are misconceptions.
Many companies are currently dealing with the introduction of content management systems (CMS) as part of digital marketing suites that are supposed to provide this kind of personalization. Full of anticipation, they survey the different solutions on offer from manufacturers. Some companies give up before they have even decided on a new platform: The systems seem too complex, the options too diverse, changing the system too difficult, the return on investment too uncertain. Other companies stay optimistic, choose a platform and implement it at the corresponding financial expense. It is at this point at the latest that a gap opens up between expectations and reality, because the software does not automatically assume the task of personalization. On the contrary: Using a platform to achieve these goals leads to new, additional challenges.

Companies nearly always underestimate the planning and operational effort required to use marketing suites, because every personalization strategy begins with a fundamental understanding of user requirements. Only then can content be developed. And one-off development is not enough, because content has to be created, added to and optimized continually – often individually for each segment.

Even this rough overview makes it clear that implementing the technology is just a small part of personalization. If the company doesn’t realize this until it is too late, it will launch the complex solution without any benefit, wasting its investment, all because it overlooked the expense required to use the solution in operations, to adjust processes and manage complex content processes.

So what now?

At this year’s dmexco, manufacturers of digital marketing suites were propagating comprehensive artificial intelligence to solve this dilemma. But it is still not possible to clearly identify their significance for upper mid-market companies and many corporate groups in Germany. And even the manufacturers still don’t have any cases to show that have been successfully implemented.

Instead of waiting to find out and hoping for more sophisticated technologies, companies should start by gaining some experience and implementing personalization in small steps – beginning with a few segments, by formulating hypotheses, reviewing them live and then refining them.

This approach makes sense, and not just because it lets companies take new knowledge into account on an ongoing basis. It also gives the organization and its employees the time they need to get used to new ways of thinking, processes and technologies, to let them make up their minds about initial successes and then continually scale them – and to develop an appropriate personalization strategy independent of technological advances.

Because only a holistic approach and comprehensive planning beyond a mere change of technology will ensure success.