Web-personalization: 10 Myths Many People Believe

We decided to collect and debunk myths of personalization in marketing that we have encountered many times over our 7+ years of experience in this sphere: with different platforms, leaders, teams, and projects.

CRO & Personalization
6 min readNov 1, 2022

Nowadays, personalization is still on hype among marketers, product managers, and digital sphere members. Nevertheless, this area raises a large number of questions and doubts. It started with the fact that everyone interprets the term itself and the scope of its application in entirely different ways.

We decided to collect and debunk myths of personalization in marketing that we have encountered many times over our 7+ years of experience in this sphere: with different platforms, leaders, teams, and projects.

What myth is most evident for you?)

Myth 1/10: Personalization is the customer’s name in the email.

It is also the case, but personalization is much broader. Personalization is the provision of the most relevant content to the user based on his data obtained from legal sources.

This area includes personalization of content, product recommendations, communication channels, advertising, etc.

It is almost impossible to cover everything, so each company needs to choose the most critical direction regarding business efficiency and begins personalizing everything within it.

In an ideal customer-centric world, all customer data should be collected in the central database, so you can further build a personalized omnichannel experience. It is necessary to strive for such a work format, although, as practice shows, this is rare.

Myth 2/10: Personalization is too difficult.

It all depends on you and your personalization plan. It’s always better to start with “quick wins,” but frequently, people want to launch something complex right away, with non-trivial logic and numerous algorithms inside. We recommend asking yourself: will I get a valuable business result from it?

We recommend starting from simple successful cases as a basis and then creating your personalization program based on the behavior of your users, CJM, and other data. How people use filters, what bothers them in the product card, whether they understand the navigation on the site — all this data is of great value for the project.

Remember that you must formulate an accurate hypothesis, not just an idea.

For example, you want to offer an additional widget with products to the product card (PDP). One of the possible hypotheses for testing could be: “Adding a widget with similar products in the visible part of the desktop screen on the product detail page (PDP) can increase add to cart rate.”

Give priority to those hypotheses that are easy to implement and will bring maximum revenue to the company.

Myth 3/10: Company has to have a dedicated department to launch personalization.

It isn’t necessary. A personalization project should include several roles from different departments: marketing, product management, design, and analytics.

In our experience, the personalization project leader can be an employee of any department. Creating a special personalization department at once is optional but not necessary. Some companies include personalization in CRM, someone — in a product, and someone — in marketing. Sure, huge companies with high personalization maturity create separate personalization departments. The main thing is to choose a responsible person who can launch the project and bring real value to the business through personalization.

Myth 4/10: Personalization requires complex technology.

Not certainly in that way! There are unique multifunctional platforms such as Adobe, Dynamic Yield, and small services for concrete goals and locations — choose what you need for your personalization strategy.

Start by researching the cases of companies that have worked with the platform you need. Ask your questions to service representatives to be sure that this is what you need. And, of course, compare platforms by critical indicators for your business.

Myth 5/10: Implementing personalization in business is a long and expensive process.

It all depends on you. You can start personalizing one channel and gradually develop others as part of your omnichannel strategy. We recommend not integrating and personalizing everything and everywhere at the same time. Then everything will be long and expensive as you thought before.

Personalization integration costs are different: the only question is what business you have and what tasks you want to solve with the personalization.

For example, a small online store that wants to run basic personalization scenarios may benefit from “OOTB” solutions that are easy to integrate and run. If a business already has experience in personalization and wants to run more complex scenarios with the connection of internal logic and multiple channels, then it is worth choosing multifunctional platforms for enterprises.

Vendor pricing varies but mainly relies on your key metrics (number of unique users per month, number of orders per month, etc.).

Myth 6/10: Personalization value can’t be measured.

Every personalization scenario in marketing needs to be tested through A/B or MVT tests with the key metrics.

Bad example: revenue or CR uplift cannot indicate the effectiveness of the homepage banners. In this case, you should use micro conversion to track user engagement, for example, CTR.

In more conversion scenarios (from the sales funnel POV), use the “final” and close to them metrics — add to cart, CR to purchase, AOV and revenue. For example, you decided to test a personalized offer, “10% off today only,” on a product page for a new user segment. In this case, purchasing CR should be your primary metric and add to the cart and revenue as additional ones.

Do not test everything at once — choose one hypothesis at a time. Parallel campaigns can influence each other, distorting the results. After you gain enough experience to quickly evaluate what affects what and how — you can run different tests simultaneously.

And finally, feed personalization campaign data into your analytics systems, such as BI solutions, to analyze results comprehensively.

Myth 7/10: All practical personalization cases are obvious and already known.

Only about five percent are disclosed in publications. The rest, especially successful cases, are kept by companies behind seven locks, protecting them from prying eyes. There is always something that only you can do because your business is unique.

Let us remind you that it’s not shameful to start with basic cases if they bring you money!

As you gain experience and accumulate statistical data, you can run more complex scenarios and test unexpected hypotheses.

Myth 8/10: Personalization is on hype, but there are very few actual cases.

Yes, it was on the hype two years ago. Experts now talk about personalization as an innovative trend less because they are more focused on practice, cases, and technology development.

Many companies have been successful in personalization for several years and are making a profit from their business. These companies include Amazon, one of the pioneers of personalization, as well as Sephora, Starbucks, and others.

Myth 9/10: The personalization project is difficult to “sell” to management.

It all depends on your top-management maturity and background. For example, a manager may consider personalization a hype topic with no transparent results or have a negative experience in this area.

Let’s start by discussing personalization success stories from other companies in your industry. Then tell them more about how the technology works, and at the end, show possible cases for your company’s business goals. The main thing is to believe in personalization effectiveness and consistently move toward your goal.

Myth 10/10: End users are suspicious of personalization.

Sometimes we get fears from clients that end consumers are wary of personalization. Let’s break this myth together.

First, let’s look at it not as professional digital people but as usual users.

For example, in movie or music services, it will be much more convenient for you as a user to immediately see films or tracks that are relevant to you than just default data. Or, in an online store where you always buy products of a specific brand, you expect to see your favorite brands’ new or sale items. All this is personalization.

McKinsey declares that 71% of consumers expect personalized communications from the brand.

No need to write directly: “Maria, you bought from us for 100 thousand rubles. Buy more.” to get afraid users. The best personalization in marketing is invisible: when the customer thinks that everything in the store is done conveniently for him.

Currently, consumers are now more careful and informed about their personal data. But they are more than ready to share it with you to get the best-personalized customer experience.

If you want to add any myths from your experience — please, do it in the comments. We’ll try to break it)

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