In this podcast episode, we share insights on how to do personalization the right way and why personalization is not an all-or-nothing exercise. Our featured guest on the show is Mark Dodgson, Chief Experience Officer (CXO) and Co-founder of Relevant Bits.
Topics discussed in this episode:
- How can personalization benefit ecommerce businesses.
- What are the key factors affected by personalization.
- How ecommerce businesses can collect data to build customer profiles for effective personalization.
- What the differences are between implicit and explicit data regarding personalization, and how to utilised both.
03:23 Customized marketing options increase effectiveness for businesses.
06:48 Customize content based on customer segments effectively.
11:36 Product context solves merchant personalization struggles effectively.
15:13 Interest in product for agencies and ad tech.
17:39 Avoid analysis paralysis, take small, consistent steps.
Links & Resources
About Our Podcast Guest: Mark Dodgson
With more than two decades of experience, Mark Dodgson has led a number of design teams, and has instructed in the classrooms of his alma mater. In his role as a User Experience lead, he's had the privilege of collaborating closely with clients and their customers on a diverse range of projects, from comprehensive redesigns to feature-focused enhancements. In his current role as CXO at Relevant Bits, Mark's primary focus has been on developing a simple personalization app tailored to agencies, marketers, and merchants on the Shopify platform. His UX and Design contributions can be found at organizations like Sonos, Autodesk, TripAdvisor, Red Hat, UCLA, and Stanford University.
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Claus Lauter [00:00:00]:
And this is episode two seven six of the ecommerce Coffee Break podcast.
Claus Lauter [00:00:03]:
Today we're talking about why personalization is.
Claus Lauter [00:00:06]:
Not an all or nothing exercise.
Claus Lauter [00:00:08]:
And with me on the show, I have Mark Dodgson.
Claus Lauter [00:00:10]:
He's the chief experience officer and cofounder of Relevantbits.com.
Claus Lauter [00:00:14]:
So let's dive right into it. But before we get started, a big.
Claus Lauter [00:00:18]:
Thank you to our sponsors for supporting today's episode.
Claus Lauter [00:00:22]:
Loyalty Lion is a leading loyalty platform help Shopify brands rocket returning customers with their own loyalty programs with Loyalty Lion, it's quick and easy to create a program that uses points and rewards to engage shoppers, secure more second purchases, and drive up lifetime value. Loyalty Lion has been increasing returning customer rates for thousands of Shopify stores for over ten years. Visit loyaltylion.com to find out more. Find the link in the show notes.
Claus Lauter [00:00:47]:
Have you heard about Partner Hero? They're experts in support on the ecommerce industry, known for their outstanding team building skills. Their main pillars, quality people and culture makes them a great fit for your company. Learn more on partnerhero.com or click the.
Claus Lauter [00:01:00]:
Link in the show notes.
Voice over [00:01:03]:
Voice over [00:01:04]:
The e commerce Coffee Break, a top rated Shopify growth podcast dedicated to shopify merchants and business owners looking to grow their online stores. Learn how to survive in the fast changing e commerce world with your host Klaus Lauter, and get marketing advice you can't find on Google. Welcome. Welcome to the show.
Claus Lauter [00:01:29]:
Hello and welcome to another episode of the e commerce Coffee Break podcast. Today we want to talk about personalization. Now, that's a broad field, and we want to find out why personalization is not an all or nothing exercise. We want to find out what that is, in fact, meaning for a Shopify immersion. With me on the show, I have Mark Docson. He is the chief experience officer and co founder of Relevantbits.com. With more than two decades of experience, Mark has led a number of design teams and has instructed in the classroom office alma mater in his role of user experience led, he had experience of collaborating closely with clients and their customers on a diverse range of projects, from comparison redesigns to feature focused enhancements. So let's welcome him to the show.
Claus Lauter [00:02:11]:
Hi Mark, how are you today?
Mark Dodgson [00:02:12]:
Doing great. Thanks for having me, Klaus.
Claus Lauter [00:02:14]:
Mark personalization a lot of people just think about showing the right product in the right moment, and that's basically it. But it is far more. Give me your take on what personalization is for you.
Mark Dodgson [00:02:27]:
There's a wide range there and I think the purpose of personalization is to increase the relevance of your value proposition by speaking your customers language, matching their expectations and addressing their fears, needs and desires. And if you can do that, it's more than likely going to translate to a number of factors. The obvious ones are improved conversions and units per transaction average order value. But you also have improvements and increases in customer loyalty and in recommendations. But there is a wide range in terms of personalization, from the mass marketing approach to the hyper personalization one to one approach on the other end. So there is that expansive range, but most companies lie somewhere in between those two ends.
Claus Lauter [00:03:10]:
Now, for a lot of people out there, personalization stands for. I put the name of my customer in the email, end of story. So let's dive in some examples, actually.
Claus Lauter [00:03:19]:
What you can really do and how.
Claus Lauter [00:03:21]:
You can really go deep into personalization.
Mark Dodgson [00:03:23]:
Having customer segments and having rule types makes that possible. And so you can kind of get creative with how you do that. Of course, putting the customer's name in an email is a very simple approach, and probably one people should do to get started. But there's also great simple ones just changing out your banner. So instead of showing a carousel, show a very specific banner to your customer segment, because there's a lot of data that shows that with carousels, most people don't get to the second or third one. So if you can even think about just swapping out the banner based on a set of rules or a customer segment type, that would be much more effective. So there's lots of approaches like that. If you have customers who have purchased from you before, we have the data to support what they've purchased.
Mark Dodgson [00:04:03]:
So show a collection that is in line with what they've purchased in the past, and then you can get even more creative with different rule types related to their location or weather or date ranges or promotions, right? So you can kind of expand on that.
Claus Lauter [00:04:17]:
So obviously, in the first place, you have to collect that data. Where do you start there? What kind of sources do you use to collect data to build up this profile that you then can use for personalization with your customer?
Mark Dodgson [00:04:27]:
There's two real types, right? I mean, there's implicit data and there's explicit data. There's data that you're going to have in your shopify store that can be used. And Shopify, for example, gives you a great way to filter that using operators and values and create customer segments out of it. Klavio is another example, too. So Klaviyo can also let you create those customer segments in really powerful ways. On the other end, there's the implicit data, which is like things like date ranges and location data and weather data. And in combination with your explicit data or the data, the first party data that you have in your store, you can make some pretty interesting opportunities for yourself to personalize for your customers.
Claus Lauter [00:05:05]:
Now, you worked with some very big companies. They have a huge budget. They do a lot of customization. What's their entry point? Where do they start? When it comes to personalization, the challenge.
Mark Dodgson [00:05:15]:
With many of the projects that we've worked on is that they have been large scale. So the organizations that we worked have been rather large. And so we're working with larger teams. And I think that's part of the challenge with small to medium or size organizations is the teams that we worked with in the past are 30 plus teams on a personalization strategy. You've got data analysts and engineers, and you've got data scientists, and you've got the whole gamut of people working on this. And I think it's very easy for small to medium sized organizations to feel like they have to be all in or not at all. And that's because there's a lot of online articles, videos on YouTube. There's podcast guests from large organizations that are doing really important personalization work.
Mark Dodgson [00:05:56]:
But they often speak from the point of view of a large team that's strategizing, developing, implementing, and these very sophisticated plans. I've done a number of interviews with smaller teams, and there's often some trepidation that leads to feeling like it's not worth going down this path if you don't have the team to support it. And I truly think that this stems from this view that you have to do it all. And I personally don't think that's true at all. I think there's lots of ways you can just kind of get started in this personalization path.
Claus Lauter [00:06:26]:
I agree. I think you don't need to really start with the 300 pound gorilla and like everything, every feature that is out there and starting small.
Claus Lauter [00:06:34]:
You gave some examples.
Claus Lauter [00:06:35]:
You said Clavio gave Shopify segmentation. Obviously, it's a big thing in there for a small and medium enterprise. What kind of resources do I need to invest and what kind of solutions do I need to look for to get started with personalization?
Mark Dodgson [00:06:48]:
Yeah, I think it depends on your needs. So there's tooling just to swap section content based on different sets of customer segments or rules. You want to make sure that you have the data to support all the things that you want to do. So if it's like, if you running your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions in November, you might want to start thinking about what questions you can ask in maybe a form to help improve your data. You might want to think about things like what collections should be displayed, how can we update the messaging to make it more effective and target your customers a little bit better? And how can you maintain that journey all the way through the store? And I think we've been doing a lot of stuff with the Shopify ecosystem, but of course, everything kind of plays into it, your email marketing, your sms, your store personalization. And I think if you can make all of those work together in a really unified way, then it becomes a really nice story for your customers and makes it easier for you to sell products that are meaningful to them.
Claus Lauter [00:07:45]:
How much of that can be completely automized? I think there gave me this example of rain gear that's only be shown when the weather forecast is bad. Tell me about that.
Mark Dodgson [00:07:55]:
There's lots of opportunities to get creative with how you're using the data, and it could be things like displaying your rain gear for your running gear. So I'm a runner. So if you're thinking about the weather in Canada here right now, it's pouring out. So if you wanted to use weather in an interesting way, you could be doing some predictive stuff with rules. So if it's going to rain within the next seven days, show a collection of products that is wet wear gear. So there's lots of interesting ways to use that information. But it could also be things like setting up promotions that trigger just based on the date and a location. That's a very simple approach.
Mark Dodgson [00:08:31]:
Right. It could be featuring a new collection to customers who have shopped with you before and who live in Toronto. Right. So it's combining different customer segments and rules together. Another big one is digital ads. Right? So if you want to start making sure that everything's working together using swapping content, and it could be banners and collections based on the ad that they land on your store from. So using UTM parameters. So it's really just about getting creative with it.
Mark Dodgson [00:08:57]:
And I think the challenge right now is that over the past year, I've been interviewing agencies, marketers and merchants, and what's been super interesting is that while personalization matters, they're usually teams of one to five. So there's a lot more small to medium sized organizations than there are large organizations. And so they often struggle for. What we've found is five key things. One is like limited resources. They just don't have the staff to execute personalization strategies. There's technical limitations, so there's not really simple tooling to make it happen. Or they don't have developers to implement a personalization campaign.
Mark Dodgson [00:09:33]:
Another one is really around the data challenges or data silos. So how can you get your own first party data or get your data together so that it can be used efficiently? There's usually a cost to implement and operate it and I think that scares people off and so it can be a little bit challenging there. I think the last one is really like lack of expertise. Believe it or not, there's a lot of small to medium sized organizations that really don't understand personalization or don't even know of it at all, which is also a little bit surprising.
Claus Lauter [00:10:06]:
And now a quick break to thank the sponsors of today's episode.
Claus Lauter [00:10:09]:
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Claus Lauter [00:10:49]:
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Claus Lauter [00:11:11]:
Visit their website and learn more on partnerhero.com. I believe you came up with a solution specifically for small and medium enterprises to help with that. And I think all the parts that you just addressed are a crucial part in their business. So they're lacking the expertise, for instance, to do that. Give me some examples on how you help with that and what a kind of learning curve does a merchant need to go through to get it up and running?
Mark Dodgson [00:11:36]:
Yeah, so we've built a product called context. It was really aimed to solve those five key areas that merchants were struggling with in terms of personalization, and it's a very simple personalization tool, and it's targeted to agencies, marketers, and merchants. And I would say merchants that know they need personalization. Based on interviews, we decided to focus on a very specific part of the personalization because we felt there was a hole in the market. So it's evolving as we go right now. But we focused on swapping section content in real time based on a rules engine that we built. And so we have this concept of a recipe. And each recipe is essentially a customer segment or a set of rules that display content to your visitors.
Mark Dodgson [00:12:20]:
And so each recipe then is made up of three ingredients. One is content variations. So the individual pieces of content that go in each section, we have a rules engine that triggers those content variations to display. And then of course, there's the metrics that provide insights, really into how well a recipe is performing or not performing. And I think the rules engine is probably the most powerful piece of it. We have five rules that can be applied right now. One is customer segments and Shopify is right out of the box. And we have an integration for Klavio, but that allows you to use your first party data to swap content throughout your site.
Mark Dodgson [00:12:58]:
And an example of that would be like show a specific banner or a collection to visitors on your email subscription list, or if they've purchased in the last 30 days. We also have the geolocation, so you can swap content based on the location of your customers. We have the UTM parameters rule type, which lets you personalize the entire customer experience on your store based on the UTM parameter that they landed on your store from. So we actually store it for the entire session so you can personalize not just the landing page, but many pages through that journey. There's a date range rule type, which is allowing you to swap banners, much like promotions. So on this day, if you're from this location in this day in time. And then of course, we have the weather one, which we brought up a little earlier there. So all of those rule types can be used individually or they can also all be combined so you can get really creative with in terms of how you want to personalize your site.
Claus Lauter [00:13:49]:
I think that brings the power of the big platforms like Amazon doing personalization very good for a long time. They have hundreds and thousands of people working on that, really down to, for a small merchant, for a small enterprise using the same power of personalization there. Now, coming back to how much time do I need to invest from my side as a merchant to get it up and running?
Mark Dodgson [00:14:10]:
From a merchant standpoint, you can be up and running in under five minutes. I mean, that's what we're trying to do is it's a no code solution. So once you install it, context, actually, it automatically scans the sections of each of your templates and presents them in our UI. And then you can start. There's a variation editor, so you can create new versions of your banners. So if you have a banner on your homepage and you want to create new variations, you create variation and it duplicates your themes banner and lets you edit that and modify it, and then that becomes your new variation that can be swapped out based on the rules that are applied.
Claus Lauter [00:14:42]:
I reckon it only works on OS 2.0. It does. What kind of other requirements do I need to have?
Mark Dodgson [00:14:47]:
Yeah, right now that's it. So it's OS 2.0 because it's using sections to swap out. Currently we just launched so it works on all of the free shopify themes and we're actively rolling out support for all of the major theme creators. So there's lots of theme support that's going to be happening over the next couple of months.
Claus Lauter [00:15:06]:
Are there any specific industries niche that would work very well or are there any where it would not work? Give me some examples.
Mark Dodgson [00:15:13]:
Yeah, I don't know that there's any examples of where it would or wouldn't work. Well, right now what we're finding is that with agencies are interested in the product for a couple of reasons. One is they're finding new ways to create content all year round, as opposed to creating content once and loading onto the site and then making changes a couple of months later, that type of thing. They're now creating multiple content for multiple customer segments and then changing it consistently throughout the year, which is pretty interesting. We've also had lots of interest from the ad tech community because usually with the ad tech community and you have a digital ad and you land on a landing page, the experience kind of ends there. But we can further that experience by storing that UTM parameter in the session and letting you personalize a lot more. So it's interesting where it's going. I think what we're trying to do is make sure that it works really well for marketers and agencies, and merchants can still benefit from all of the same tooling because it's a very simple platform.
Mark Dodgson [00:16:09]:
We've spent a lot of time on the experience of the tool. It's really as simple as creating the content you want to swap out, selecting it, applying some rules and you're good to go.
Claus Lauter [00:16:20]:
Do you have any kind of reporting.
Claus Lauter [00:16:21]:
Tools that I can find out what works best.
Mark Dodgson [00:16:24]:
Yeah, so we have metrics in the application. So it's at two levels. So there's metrics at the recipe level. So you can see things like the number of sessions, the impressions, the percentage of engagement units per transaction, average order value, conversion rate at each individual recipe. And then inside the recipe you'll get more metrics at the section level. So things like your collections and banners and multiros, you'll get data about the number of impressions. So was it actually seen by the visitor and then which ones actually had engagement?
Claus Lauter [00:16:57]:
No, it makes perfect sense. What's the onboarding process? How can I get started?
Mark Dodgson [00:17:02]:
Yeah, so it's as simple as just going to our app on the Shopify App Store, downloading it, installing it, and then start creating content. It's a very simple process and we have a little tour that you can take that kind of walks you through the application, but it's very simple.
Claus Lauter [00:17:15]:
How is the pricing structure built up?
Mark Dodgson [00:17:17]:
There is a free plan to try it out and test it out. And then pricing starts at $29 for 1000 sessions a month and it goes up to 100,000 sessions a month right now because we don't have any enterprise level plans at the moment. At 299 a month at the highest level.
Claus Lauter [00:17:32]:
That's very affordable. Cool. Before the coffee breaks comes to an end today, is there anything that you want to share with our listeners that we haven't covered yet?
Mark Dodgson [00:17:39]:
It's very easy to get overwhelmed and to not do anything. You might get into this analysis paralysis state of mind. I think making small but consistent steps can really have a tremendous effect on your business, both in terms of the learnings, but also in terms of your store's bottom line. So I think it's important to segment your customers, deliver meaningful products and messaging to each customer segment and measure the overall effect that it has and then adjust as needed. But get a simple tool in place that can help to achieve that and start small.
Claus Lauter [00:18:07]:
Yeah, I agree. Personalization always wins. Even if it's small. You will definitely be better than anyone out there who has no personalization at all. Mark, where can people find out more about you guys?
Mark Dodgson [00:18:16]:
Yes, you can visit our site, which is context relevantbits.com. And if you're interested in a demo, it's context relevantbits.com slash demo.
Claus Lauter [00:18:25]:
Cool. I will put the links in the show notes as always. Then you're just one click away. Mark, thanks so much. Give us an idea of how you can put personalization in place. Very straightforward and very easy, and I would suggest for our listeners to check it out. I think it's a good solution to get started and I hope to talk to you soon. Thank you so much, Klaus Hey Klaus here.
Claus Lauter [00:18:45]:
Thanks for joining me on another episode of the e commerce Coffee Break podcast.
Claus Lauter [00:18:49]:
Before you go, I'd like to ask.
Claus Lauter [00:18:50]:
Two things from you. First, please help me with the algorithm so I can bring more impactful guests on the show. It will make it also easier for others to discover the podcast, simply like comment and subscribe in the app you're using to listen to the podcast, and even better if you could leave a rating. Secondly, please take a moment to check out today's episode sponsors. They play a crucial role in keeping the show and our newsletter available to you for free. Thanks again and I'll catch you in the next episode.
Claus Lauter [00:19:13]:
Have a good one.
Claus Lauter [00:19:14]:
Before you leave, don't forget to visit the sponsor of today's episode. Have you heard about partner Hero? They're experts in support on the e commerce industry, known for their outstanding team building skills. Their main pillars, quality people and culture, makes them a great fit for your company. Learn more on partnerhero.com or click the.
Claus Lauter [00:19:31]:
Link in the show notes Loyalty lion is a leading loyalty platform helping Shopify brands rocket returning customers with their own loyalty programs. With Loyalty lion, it's quick and easy to create a program that uses points and rewards to engage shoppers, secure more second purchases, and drive up lifetime value. Loyalty Line has been increasing returning customer rates for thousands of Shopify stores for over ten years. Visit loyaltyline.com to find out more. Find the link in the show notes.
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