Leverage your DMP to jump-start website personalization

Chances are high that if your company spends a fair amount on digital media, there’s already a data management platform (DMP) deployed in your technology ecosystem. Tools such as Krux, Adobe Audience Manager, Oracle BlueKai and Neustar are in common use by modern digital advertisers. Your media teams or their agency partners are probably reaping the benefits of greater optimization in programmatic media buying through more effective targeting, less duplication and a deeper reach across previously underserved audiences, as well as better visibility into how customers are engaging with your advertising and marketing campaigns, website, mobile apps and email.

By nature, a DMP lends itself to easy understanding of your customer segments by your media team. As DMP usage increases, these segmentation models are refined with additional data sets and advanced analytics. The media team members start to look like heroes—they’re delivering increasingly better results, and it almost seems like their jobs are getting easier.

You can be a hero, too. Using the capabilities and intelligence of your DMP, you can turn your business’s most important digital asset—its brand website—into a sophisticated, dynamic, conversion-driving, engagement-building machine. The first step is introducing DMP-driven website personalization as a starting point for your organization’s journey toward insight-driven customer engagement.

Is it worth the effort?

The business case is quite strong in favor of pursuing personalization across marketing channels. From a study commissioned by Mindtree:

  • 74% of customers believe that personalized promotions would encourage them to buy products they never have before
  • 42% improvement in conversions with a personalized call to action
  • 6% higher average sales order value for enterprises that use personalization across channels
  • Only 28% of decision makers are investing in personalization, even though the majority have seen improved online sales over the past 12 months

What are the challenges?

Despite the proven upside of personalizing customer engagements, enterprises are still struggling with implementation. Common problems include:

  • Companies don’t have a single view of the customer across digital touchpoints, and there would be significant upfront costs in making that happen.
  • Conventional personalization approaches have failed to deliver genuine relevance to customers due to a lack of insight and perceived content creation burdens.
  • Businesses lack the expertise to structure and deliver an end-to-end personalization program across multiple tools, technologies, channels and devices.

These real challenges must be addressed, and they can be mitigated and solved for over time as the personalization journey matures. I recommend starting simple by leveraging existing investments, such as an existing DMP and web content management system (WCMS), then build from there. By taking an iterative and learning-based approach to personalization and related content, data and technology needs, savvy digital marketers can prove value and justify an expanded, accelerated target-state strategy.

How to get started

A DMP-first approach can minimize risk and help you launch your personalization journey. For the purposes of this discussion, we assume that the DMP is present in-house or accessible via an agency relationship, and that the prerequisite tagging, segmentation and data collection typical of DMP integrations have been completed. We also assume a technology stack that includes a strong WCMS, such as Sitecore or Adobe Audience Manager. With these pieces in place, website personalization becomes possible. One example: Exposing DMP segments to the HTML header when the page loads, then responding with content customized for desired segments.

Though not as comprehensive as a Customer360 data platform, a DMP can provide access to segment and behavioral triggers at the time of page load. By exposing DMP segments via an HTML header call, website content can be configured within the WCMS to adapt to segment context. For example, by understanding which marketing messages a visitor has seen and responded to before visiting, the website knows which content to coordinate with the interests or intent of the user. A beauty company can change a hero image to reflect an interest in hair products instead of makeup, because it knows that the user has read content online before about haircare and has clicked on a hair product ad. A hotel company could recognize that a site visitor is researching summer vacations in Europe and start promoting European tour packages. Even the first steps of personalization—such as distinguishing between an existing customer and a prospect, then elevating relevant content resources accordingly—can impact engagement metrics dramatically.

It’s easy to focus on a mature state of personalization and customization as we pursue the 1:1 customer experience. These first baby steps can be difficult, given the perceived need for significant investment in technology, data, content and resources. Ultimately the DMP will take its place as one tool and data source in a mature, personalized ecosystem—but it offers an effective way to get started. Below is a simple recipe:

  • Expose existing DMP segments via an HTML header call.
  • Map these segments into three buckets corresponding to major customer journey positions, such as research, buyer and support. Define the KPI for each group.
  • Using existing content, refine the layout of an existing page to focus on the needs of each of these three groups.
  • Create the necessary rule or mechanism in your CMS to read the segment and select the appropriate layout.
  • Activate and monitor the results.
  • Iterate, text, expand, mature and celebrate.

It won’t be long before you and your colleagues will joke with younger coworkers about a time when each user was forced through the same homogenized website experience—when personalization was the new frontier. By then, rich customer profiles, advanced analytics and intelligent automation will deliver a bespoke experience to each every user.

Find out more from an earlier story in this series, “The DMP evolution in digital marketing technology.”