Episode 7: Agile Personalization Stories

“As a Marketer, I want to Personalize my site, so that I can better engage with my audience.” That’s an example of how I might write an Agile Story about Personalization. In this episode we discuss the usefulness of stories in the Agile process and also explore their direct relevance to helping us think about the right way to personalize by focussing on the “who” and the “why” of what we’re doing.

In the News

Personalization Paradox

  • Paradox #1. While paramount to cure the sheer saturation of inboxes and social feeds — see, for example, the Twitterverse’s recent ‘algorithm anxiety’ — personalization requires content in an even more vast variety to cater for individual needs and tastes.
  • Paradox #2. The closer marketers get, it seems, the more likely they are to miss the mark: success recipes to ensure messages fall on the right ears at the right time definitely grow longer as conversations get more intimate.
  • Paradox #3. Consumers seem to suffer from some sort of Catullus 85 Complex when it comes to personalization: they hate and they love personalization to a very similar extent: “39% of consumers say they get frustrated when retailers don’t offer personalized recommendations; 38% say the same about personalized offers.”

Personalization at its best is a problem solver, a relevant, tailored service.

Content is probably the most often overlooked component of the “unified data ecosystem” enabling personalization. A vital key to personalization success is, nonetheless, to be found in your CMS. If your messages are to be tailored and meaningful in a one-to-one conversation, you are going to need a massive amount of them and they’ll have to be tagged / calendared ex-ten-sive-ly.

Why Your Organization is Approaching Personalization All Wrong

by Fiona Adler

What’s in a name? Personalization vs. Individualization vs. Contextualization.

Ron Rogowski has written about contextualization vs. personalization as well.

Firms that succeed with personalization are proactive and intentional about it. They treat personalization as an enabler of better interactions from the customers’ view across their journeys. Rather than contemplating, “How can my organization implement personalization?” they ask, “What tasks and goals are users trying to accomplish, and how can personalization enable users to more seamlessly accomplish those?

Agile Stories

Format: - Who - “As a…” - What - “I want…” - Why - “So that…”

“As a shopper, I want to see product prices clearly labeled, so that I can find something I know is in my budget before I go to checkout.”

“As a parent, I want my child to go to bed at night, so that I can relax.”

“As a child, I want to wake up early in the morning, so that I can play.”

Agile Personalization Stories

When writing stories for personalization, check the who and why closely. I can write a story like this:

“As a Return Visitor, I want to see a message that says ‘welcome back!’ so that I can feel more appreciated.”

Watch out though. Do you actually know that this is the case? Do your return visitors really want to be recognized as returning visitors? What if they feel creeped out that you’re tracking them? This is a real concern and something that may need to be addressed.

So how do you deal with this? Research! If you don’t know for sure if your story is true, then consider a more accurate story:

“As a Marketer, I want to test putting a ‘welcome back’ message on the home page for return visitors, so that I can determine whether they will (buy more, stay longer, etc..)”

This is a research focussed story as opposed to a “just do it” story and it much more accurately reflects our reality.

What about the “So What?” We can and will dedicate a few future episodes to talking about Goal tracking and measurement, but this is where you can easily identify the metric that you are trying to effect from creating this personalized experience. This idea is absolutely critical, because if you’re not measuring something that impacts your bottom line, then you have no idea whether your effort is paying off or not. Always be very clear about what you’re measuring and why.

Notice that the story format doesn’t address “how” or “when”. “How” should be discussed, but when you’re trying to determine what will have the most effect on your business or organization, asking who? what? and why? are your best places to start.

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