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How to Select the Best Personalization Vendor

Article • September 1, 2021 • Written by: Diane Keng

Every brand is on its own journey toward curating relevant, personalized experiences for its consumers. While the benefits personalization creates for marketing ROI and consumer experiences are clear, there is no right or wrong path to take toward enabling these individualized experiences. For example, some companies might opt to create an internal team to handle personalization, whereas others might look for a vendor to help them reach their goals in the most efficient way possible.

Personalization might seem challenging for marketers, but the effort is absolutely worthwhile: It has been proven to increase marketing spend efficiency from 10% to 30% and revenue by 5% to 15%. Those kinds of results are hard to ignore and certainly difficult to repeat by any other means. 

The good news is that numerous vendors offer products designed to make personalization more effective with less manual involvement from marketers. The right vendor can help put you on the path to personalization by working with you at every stage of the journey — from data collection to enabling fully personalized consumer experiences.

However, selecting a personalization vendor that isn’t aligned with your goals wastes precious IT and marketing budget (not to mention those teams’ time). It also does little to cultivate relevant experiences that are the backbone of connecting with consumers on a deeper level. 

With so much riding on partnering with the right vendor, how do you pick a great one? 

Key Features of Personalization Technology

A great relationship with a vendor means nothing if its product leaves something to be desired. It’s important to confirm first that any product under consideration has the right features for your specific business goals. These features should make the benefits of personalization in marketing both obvious and attainable. 

Any marketing personalization solution should offer:

  • Predictive capabilities: The solution should go beyond merely analyzing the data at hand. Instead, it should use AI and ML to make intelligent predictions based on that data. 
  • Scalability: Consumers are unique, so you need to go beyond using just a few audience segments to understand their preferences and provide excellent digital consumer experiences. Look for solutions that can handle large volumes of individual consumers. If you have one million consumers, for example, your solution should be able to produce one million experience variations.
  • Features that meet your needs: Don’t waste time on a solution that can’t meet your needs for personalization in digital marketing. If you’re great at data collection and already have actionable insights on your consumers, look for a vendor that can take you to the next stage. Understand where you are as a company and find the vendor that fits your current and future needs. 
  • Algorithm fit: Algorithms that pick who sees certain messages or content are tailored for specific industries based on the demographics and patterns of their customer bases. With this in mind, find an algorithm that matches your industry. Otherwise, its recommendations will be fundamentally flawed.

Keep in mind that it can take up to six months to integrate a predictive personalization solution, and the results likely won’t be apparent for months after that. It’s crucial to believe in the solution and just as crucial to believe in the vendor.

What to Look for in a Vendor

A great solution backed by a lackluster vendor can be even worse than the inverse. Users might struggle to get the training they need to feel comfortable with the solution or receive the developer support required to make the solution their own. It could take forever to implement the system, and the features might not live up to expectations.

Remember: The vendor is the link between the software and the user. Knowing what to look for in a vendor helps marketers pick dependable partners they can trust to make the benefits of personalization in marketing real.

For any vendors under consideration, look at how well their products perform on other sites. If possible, reach out to those customers directly for a firsthand perspective — any good vendor will be happy to supply references. A good vendor will also inspire a feeling of confidence that it can deliver the results promised. Due diligence and gut instincts both play a role in making the right choice.

When picking a vendor, start by asking yourself these questions: 

  • What does the integration process look like? 
  • What are the expected results, and how long will those results take to appear? 
  • How do we measure success? 
  • What is the vendor’s role post-implementation? 

Any vendor should have direct answers to these questions. Most importantly, they should be eager to show off the product in a live demo and be able to set it up quickly. The biggest red flag of all is a vendor that wants you to buy a product before you can see it in action.

When evaluating vendors, there might be multiple partners that seem to check all the required boxes. In that case, focus on a few criteria above all else. First, consider speed. A vendor that can get a product up, running, and producing results in weeks instead of months or years offers more value. Effectiveness is also important. The benefits of personalization in marketing can sometimes be unclear or abstract, so choose a vendor that can deliver quantifiable results tied directly to business objectives. Finally, the more audience segments a solution can create and manage, the closer it gets to truly personalized experiences. Focus less on the number of segments available immediately (it takes time to ingest and incorporate good data) and more on how segments can scale over time with minimal manual involvement in the process.

Key Takeaway

Companies and brands might be unsure of where to start their personalization journeys. That makes sense given that any effort to understand thousands of consumers as individuals could be a losing effort — when left to humans, that is. With the right solution and vendor in place, you can start seeing results in weeks, not months.

Scalable personalization in digital marketing is only possible with technology, and specifically AI and ML, which are still new to many marketers. Personalization vendors can guide you into the unknown and toward something better, but only if they meet the criteria outlined above.

To learn more about how Breinify can power your personalization efforts with our robust platform and dedicated team, get in touch today.

Ready to transform your digital personalization with incredible speed?

Diane Keng

CEO & Co-Founder @ Breinify
Forbes 30 Under 30 for Enterprise Technology