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Neil Capel, chairman, Sailthru: How to buy personalisation tools

17th Jun 2016
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In the latest in our series of articles where IT leaders provide their take on the purchasing process, Neil Capel, chairman and founder of Sailthru, shares tips for those looking to buy personalisation solutions. 

MyC. What do practitioners need to consider before they start looking for personalisation solutions, to determine their requirements?

NC. Marketers need to be thinking both inside-out and outside-in. From the inside-out perspective they need to identify just how they are looking to evolve their customer experience and how they are currently collecting and leveraging customer data and where that falls in relation to their competitors (and where there competitors are going). From the outside-in perspective they have to have understand what shifts are happening with their customers. Today’s consumer is asking for personalisation, but does that mean personalised retargeting or does that mean personalised email and onsite experiences that are connected and contiguous? Identify what you want and identify what your consumers need and then use that as the foundation to determine the requirements for personalisation.

MyC. What kinds of questions should they ask themselves?

NC. Ask questions that allow you to get down to the major challenges that you’re facing in reaching the goals that you have today and that you’ll be setting in the future so that when you evaluate solutions you’re thinking both about your customers and your future.

  • How will the demands of my customers change?
  • What challenges am I required to solve today to meet those demands?
  • What are the opportunities that we’re missing out on?
  • What data are we not making use of?
  • What “big picture” levers do I need to pull to make a difference?
  • Where are we going to want to be three years from now? Where will my competitors be in that same time frame?

MyC. How can buyers convince the CFO that investment in this kind of technology is a wise decision? How can you get buy-in?

NC. Every marketer knows that there are anywhere from 12 - 36 things you could do at any given time to impact your goals - it is prioritising them that is the challenge! The rationale for picking one over the other, especially in the eyes of your CFO, is never because it’s just a want - there must be a need, a testing plan and a sustainable impact potential. When it comes to personalisation, consider starting with these two stats from Gartner: 89% of marketers expect to compete on customer experience today vs 36% just four years ago; and by fully investing in personalisation by 2017 a brand can outsell its competitors by 20%.

Build your business case based on both technology & consumer imperatives and then provide industry benchmarks to validate the need for this being a priority. With the most modern personalisation technologies, brands can lift channel revenue by 70% and overall customer lifetime value by upwards of 20%, so investing in this area isn’t just a nice to have, it’s actually a competitive advantage - that’s a message that will convince any cross-functional partner.

MyC. Are there any particular challenges in the personalisation tech market that buyers need to be aware of?

NC. Personalisation should not be overly challenging to deliver. A solution that makes it easy to collecting meaningful data, turn that data into information and deliver cross-channel experiences is key but the marketing messages that are out there make it difficult to discern. Take a look at this year’s ChiefMartec landscape and you’ll see thousands of technologies, hundreds more than last year.

Every technology grouping is promising personalisation, but what buyers need to understand is that personalisation doesn’t have a standard definition.

Every technology grouping is promising personalisation, but what buyers need to understand is that personalisation doesn’t have a standard definition: it varies from technology to technology and the legacy enterprises that have long-ruled the technology market are not structured to handle the volume, velocity and variety of data that you need to develop a truly personalised experience for today’s consumer. This is where any buyer should be looking to the market innovators who have modern data foundations and who are natively building rather than simply buying.

MyC. Once practitioners are at the solution selection stage, what advice can you share to help buyers find the most appropriate vendor for their needs?

NC. Personalisation is key to transforming the customer experience, but what happens with many buyers at this stage is that they focus solely on product features. The challenge with this approach is that most buyers will fall back to what they already know and are already comfortable with, but that mentality is what can hold an organisation back from transformation and even setting the foundation for their future success. Focusing on recognising which solutions will help you solve your major challenges; the ones that actually serve as a competitive advantage, rather than the widgets.

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