Personalization Talks #8 with Virginie Millancourt

Virginie Millancourt, Senior Partner Success Manager, talks about personalization as a key brand differentiator for customers, personalized grocery shelf, and keeping on iterating and testing.

CRO & Personalization
4 min readDec 11, 2022

“Personalization is not a sprint. It is a marathon” — talking with our new Personalization Talks guest, Virginie Millancourt, Senior Partner Success Manager at Dynamic Yield, named a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the personalization engines for 5 time in a row and working with leading customers in fashion e-сommerce, electronics, travel, and groceries.

You can always find previous interviews here.

Why do companies need to implement and use personalization?

Nowadays, the digital space is quite busy no matter the industry, and competition can be extreme. Personalization can be a key differentiator for customers to consider your brand/website.

Once a customer's meaningful behavior online and offline are analyzed to form its journey, this creates an opportunity on its own.

The data is analyzed to guide the personalization effort because, as a brand, you are “listening” to your customers and approaching “their needs” first. Thanks to personalization, you can help solve your customer´s challenges and ease their journey. Furthermore, personalization can be applied to any industry, online and offline.

What is your favorite personalization example?

The best personalization examples include subtle adaptations of your website. These customer interactions can be tracked and used to nest a set of key segments to focus the personalization effort on.

I have two personalization examples in mind.

The first example emerged from grocery shopping online. Once you start shopping online, you often subscribe to the newsletter to receive weekly special offers.

After several purchases, one can easily identify food preferences based on the product added to the basket and purchased. F.e. a vegetarian’s basket will often contain vegetables, cheese, and legumes.

As a result, any supermarket can collect these data points and understand one´s consumption and preferences.

With time, one can notice that the “digital shelf” can change based on the customer´s profile. As a result, for a vegetarian customer, meat offers could be removed, and instead, products from the organic/slow food shelf could be highlighted. This changes the game as a customer might not see your store only as a convenience but also as a source of discovery for new products.

Another example I regret not seeing anywhere yet is related to the travel industry. People often travel for two main reasons: business or leisure.

One´s needs are very different based on these two primary criteria, yet a business or a leisure traveler could book the same hotel for different reasons.

A business traveler usually seeks a hotel with the following amenities: wifi, conference room, onsite dining options, and single or double room…

On the other hand, a leisure traveler encompasses many different user behaviors, whether traveling with the family, escaping with the love of your life, a weekend getaway with friend to discover a city, or a solo trip to relax and disconnect.

A leisure traveler who travels with a family could be interested in the hotel activities, the option to book connecting rooms if traveling with kids, and the things to visit around.

Therefore, depending on which customer type, only certain hotel amenities are relevant and could be easily presented to guide the customer in choosing what is right for his/her needs.

What is crucial to take in mind working with personalization?

Personalization is a relatively new space that is too often considered like A/B testing. With personalization, one can A/B test and learn how each key segment interacts with different variations. Thus the ability to learn is even greater, and optimization should be the objective. I recommend not stopping there. Keep on iterating and testing. Personalization never stops!

Furthermore, a good personalization strategy always needs to be data-driven because your customers are “telling” you many things when they browse your site or visit your store. These displayed behaviors need to be analyzed and be a starting point for any personalization program.

From what do you recommend companies start working with personalization?

Start easy and simple. I see too many companies with complex plans to run a personalization program which often leads to too little impact. Personalization is a journey that molds itself with clear objectives, analysis and time.

Do not assume you know what to show and not show to your customers. Instead, learn from the data.

  • Define a set of key performance indicators that are a company focus and design your roadmap accordingly
  • List 10 test ideas, create a backlog with these, and prioritize to get your top 3 tests to focus on at first
  • Approach the program based on “phases” and milestones that will give you a sense of accomplishment and added value, thanks to all the learnings you will collect on the way

Remember that if the data do not show an uplift for a specific group, this is a learning, thus an opportunity.

Personalization is not a sprint. It is a marathon.

Which roles in the company should be involved in the successful personalization project?

You´ll need a personalization owner with great collaboration, project management, and communication skills.

This person will liaise with different subject matter experts such as CRO, email marketing, performance marketing, merchandising, and data analytics. It is important as personalization can lie in these different departments.

For the technical aspect, you´ll need a developer with skills in HTML, JSON, and CSS and access to a back-end developer for implementation purposes.

Finally, you´ll need a UX/UI designer to ensure all the templates are aligned with your branding guidelines.

It is also essential to have an executive sponsor who can share the success on the executive level and support the operational team with the right resources, skills, and vision.

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