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What can go wrong with 1:1 personalization


If you’re paying for a tool that supports 1:1 personalization - meaning, some clever 🤖 picks which experience to deliver to each individual visitor, based on browser data and behavior - there are a few ways it can end in tears.

You picked the wrong categories

You know that your SaaS marketing site gets visitors from several major industries - healthcare, automotive, and shipping/logistics.

So you create three unique experiences, each of which speaks to visitors in a particular sector.

This might work great! It could totally transform your business, and you could end up with a mantel full of marketing trophies.

Or, it might turn out that “✅ People in my industry use this product” is a minor consideration in choosing software like yours; you’d have been better off building experiences based on different levels of technical sophistication. Or stages in the buyer’s journey. Or company size. Or … 😅

One or more of your experiences is 💩

Even if you got the categories right, there’s no guarantee that every experience you design will convert.

Ever build an A/B test variation that lost? Ever launch a campaign that fizzled? It’s cool, we all have. So how do you know it’s not happening this time?

The robot 🤖 doesn’t actually have a clue who’s who

Even if you’ve categorized visitors according to the single most important criteria, and designed amazing experiences for each segment, it’s possible that your software will regularly fail to deliver the ideal experience.

If a visitor’s industry - or technical sophistication, or stage in the buyer’s journey - is correlated with the arbitrary browser and behavior data available to your personalization platform … you’re good.

If not, you’re guaranteed to end up with an optimal delivery of experiences based on the available data, but it’s not guaranteed to be perfect-world optimal.

How far away from a perfect world will it be? The comforting news is you’ll probably never know.

So if you’ve already bought the personalization platform, don’t worry. Have fun, report on what you can report on, and don’t let these details worry you.

If you haven’t paid for it yet, how will you mitigate these risks?


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© 2022 Brian David Hall