What to Look for in Personalization Technology for 2018 By Katie Sweet

personalization technology for 2018

As we come upon a new year, marketers everywhere are considering their marketing strategies for 2018, and many are finally thinking about pursuing personalization programs. If you have put off personalizing your customers’ or prospects’ digital experiences thus far, it may have been for any number of reasons: you haven’t felt that your company was ready for it, it seemed like too big of an undertaking, you wanted to focus on other priorities, etc. But you don’t need to put it off any longer. The right technology partner can make it easy to get started.

In this blog post, I’ll walk through the high-level requirements for any personalization technology you invest in next year. There are, of course, many individual features and nitty-gritty details you’ll want to look for as well. You’ll want to figure out if any solution can integrate with your specific martech stack, and you’ll want to make sure it can help you accomplish your specific goals. But at the highest level, in order to deliver successful one-to-one personalization, you need a solution that is a complete cross-channel platform, contains a single profile for each person, operates in true real time, allows you to execute on your strategy without reliance on IT or engineering, and delivers robust and accurate attribution analysis.

For a more in-depth analysis of how to evaluate personalization technology, I also recommend you download our new full-length book, One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning, for free. Let’s dive in!

1. A single platform to leverage across channels

The term “personalization” encompasses many different tactics and channels. Exit and cart abandonment messages, segment-based communications, product and content recommendations, account- and industry-specific experiences, web application, mobile app, push notifications, email, digital advertising, person-to-person, and search all fall under the umbrella of personalization.

Point solution vendors that provide tools for each of these individual tactics and channels have popped up over the years. It may seem wise initially to invest in a point solution, but it can become overwhelming (not to mention fragmented) as soon as you want to do more than that point solution was designed for. Soon you’ll find yourself with a jumble of unconnected technologies that you need to wrangle—each with a separate account and separate data.

It is much more effective and efficient to address all of your personalization needs with one single platform that allows for personalization across channels and tactics. While researching personalization technology, consider your potential future needs and find a solution that will grow with you — rather than limit you.

2. A single profile for every single person

It’s impossible to deliver an experience that is unique and relevant to an individual if you don’t have a comprehensive understanding of that individual. For example, imagine several different people observing a shopper in a physical store at different moments. Each person would notice the person taking different actions. If they didn’t share their observations, they would each have a very different view of that person’s preferences and intent. But once they put them together, they form a complete picture of what that individual is looking for at that moment and what his interests and affinities are.

In the digital world, successful personalization requires that all of your in-depth behavioral data from across channels be captured, synchronized with external attribute data, and brought together into a single profile for each visitor, customer and account. However, a single profile is not easy to deliver and hard to find among vendors. Many personalization vendors will appear to provide a complete platform that offers capabilities across the full personalization spectrum, but merging data sources is either impossible with their existing tools or very complex and time-consuming. It actually requires an integrated Customer Data Platform (CDP). Make sure you find a personalization solution that includes a CDP at its core and allows you to see a single profile for each person that interacts with your company.

3. The ability to act on any and all data in real time

We tend to be forgiving when anyone says that something is available in “real time.” We often take that to mean “quickly” or “soon” rather than the phrase’s real definition: “the actual time during which a process takes place or an event occurs.”

In terms of personalization, “real time” refers to the actual moment that someone is interacting with a digital property. When we say that the data should be used to deliver a personalized experience in real time, we mean it should be delivered the actual moment a person is interacting with the company, regardless of the channel. All aspects of every visitor’s complete history must be combined with everything she is doing in the moment, and everything you’ve learned about her from all relevant sources, to deliver a personalized experience — in a matter of milliseconds.

The term is used liberally in many vendors’ marketing messages — and isn’t always meant in its full and accurate sense. Dig into any vendor’s capabilities to determine if it will allow you to instantly and undetectably deliver relevant experiences that leverage a person’s in-the-moment, not past, intent.

4. The ability to manage the platform without the need to rely on IT or engineering

You’ve probably experienced the pain that results from relying on other teams in your organization to accomplish your marketing goals. Whether you need assistance from engineering, IT, customer success, or sales, it can be frustrating when other teams — with their own priorities — fail to put your initiatives at the top of the list. When it comes to something as important as the customer experience, you don’t want to be forced to always count on others. So what can you do?

With a best-of-breed personalization platform, you and your team should be able to launch, measure, and adjust personalization campaigns quickly and easily on your own, without intervention. Yet the platform needs to be comprehensive enough to address all of your complex multi-tactic, cross-channel demands. With some vendors, a platform like this just does not exist. It’s a good idea to find out from current customers if the solution is easy or cumbersome to use.

5. Robust and accurate attribution analysis

Testing, analytics and attribution analysis are critical components of any personalization campaign. Without the ability to test, you cannot know if your campaigns are successful or if there is anything you can do to improve your approach. You need built-in testing and attribution analysis to iterate rapidly and ensure your experiences and algorithms deliver the best results possible.

Some solutions are not transparent when it comes to attribution analysis. Some vendors, particularly those with product recommendation tools, will provide reporting on campaign results but not enable customers to run or manage those reports themselves. And many will boldly claim that their “black box” solutions have made you hundreds of thousands or even millions in incremental revenue—taking credit for growth that may have occurred anyway. When selecting a personalization solution, make sure that you have the ability to compare the results of every campaign against control and that the solution utilizes sound statistical science for accurate and defensible attribution analysis.

Final Thoughts

If you’re evaluating personalization for 2018 for the first time (or if you’re reevaluating your existing tools), make sure that your personalization technology is a complete cross-channel platform, contains a single profile for each person, acts in real time, allows you to execute on your strategy without relying on IT or engineering, and delivers accurate attribution analysis.

To learn more about why these aspects of personalization technology are critical to delivering relevant, one-to-one experiences for your customers and prospects – and a whole lot more – download a free digital copy of our new book, One-to-One Personalization in the Age of Machine Learning today.

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How To Drive Customer Loyalty On Mobile By Ross Hamer

Customer loyalty is a funny thing, isn’t it? I remember when I was a kid I would only drink one brand of milk, Fresh’n’Lo. If my milk wasn’t in that familiar packaging I wouldn’t have anything to do with it. It wouldn’t get anywhere near my Coco Crispies, let alone into an unadulterated glass. Looking back at it, it strikes me (quite rightly) as madness, but I also feel a sliver of pride at just how fiercely loyal I was to that brand.

Why was I like this? Well, other than my inherent neurosis, I’m pretty sure it was a mix of familiarity to the point where it was habitual, as well as the illusion that this milk was somehow better than other milk. The cartons were always the most visible in the local food market, and sometimes I’d see it on the few billboards that overlooked the small town I grew up in. All these things undoubtedly created a loyal milk monster in me.

Customer Loyalty Is All Around Me, And So The Feeling Grows

That story tells you a lot about why brands spend a huge amount of time and money on marketing and advertising their products in order to keep customers coming back. It happens all around us, all the time: brands are constantly maintaining our awareness of what we are already familiar with.

Take, for instance, Coca Cola taking the time to make sure their bottles are at the perfect level in a shop’s refrigerator cabinet – and therefore easy to catch sight of, triggering the realisation that you’d love a sip of that familiar sugary taste. And of course also easy to reach out a hand and grab one.

It’s the same for TV ads. As a millennial, I don’t watch that much TV, but when I do I am shocked by the constant barrage of advertising. These ads often have very little to do with the product of the brand they are representing, but they certainly remind viewers of the brand’s existence. That is particularly important for businesses like online brokers who have no real world presence, which presumably explains the panoply of furry (or otherwise) ‘characters’ on my TV screen bringing these brands to sometimes irritating life.

Customer Loyalty On Mobile – A Changing Landscape

The emergence of mobile has changed what we might call the ‘loyalty landscape’ completely. Nearly everyone has a smartphone that they carry with them at all times, in all places, and use at any given opportunity. This has brought about a huge opportunity for brands, but they have only recently started to figure out the nuances of communicating with users through the most personal channel we’ve ever known. And of course there is still a lot of work to do.

Put simply: the old ways just don’t work as well as they used to. Mobile users don’t react well to being interrupted by constant advertising. They’re no longer held hostage to broadcasters who splice up content with a seemingly ever increasing ratio of manic ads. And if they are subjected to even a short ad that really gets in their way, chances are they’ll grow frustrated and give their attention to a different, more understanding app.

It’s clear that customer loyalty marketing today can’t just be about reminding people all the time that you exist. It’s far more important for your business to be on the screen of whatever device your customer is currently using. And this is the real challenge! In our age of fleeting attention spans, getting the brand on the screen – and staying there – is the single most important thing you can do to nurture customer loyalty.

How To Drive Customer Loyalty

So how do you do it? Well, if being on the screen is the goal, then implementing a smart retention strategy is the first step to making that happen. Let’s start with the first time that a user opens your app, as it will define the rest of their journey. I you don’t onboard successfully, that journey will be a rather short one. It’s all about educating your users about the core features of your app as effectively as you can, and in as unobtrusive way as possible. For example, use in-app messages to explain the benefits of signing up for a free trial or opting in for push notifications. Once your audience understand the full value of your service, developing loyalty and increasing engagement becomes a heck of a lot easier for you.

After the initial onboarding, when users have settled into your app and understand how to get the most out of it, the golden rule is simple: “first do no harm”. Let go of the old marketing ways. Resist the temptation to spam with push notifications. Instead, think “service messaging”, which provides helpful, and even important information to customers in real-time. Being able to communicate to a customer that you know, and perhaps can even anticipate, their needs is incredibly powerful when it comes to building loyalty. Messages like these serve the purpose of being genuinely helpful, and if done smartly, are unobtrusive. For example a weather app could message you to take an umbrella with you before you leave the house.

This approach develops a sense of trust and loyalty for your brand in the customer, and nurturing this over time will lead to more likelihood of them interacting with your messaging, even if that starts to edge into marketing territory. The alternative, on the other hand, is likely to simply teach your customers to ignore you, or worse delete the app. Your place on the screen is lost forever…

Ultimately, earning your customers’ loyalty is not rocket science, but it IS something that you need to think clearly about. A common sense and reliable approach is to simply put yourself in the customer’s shoes. “Would I find this message helpful, for me specifically? Really?” If you can answer “yes” to those questions (and the more targeted and personalized the message, the more often you will), then it’s probably OK to proceed. Taking that approach, and identifying the moments when you can truly help your customers, means you will be well on your way to customer loyalty success. Treat yourself to a cold glass of generic brand milk – you deserve it.

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Branding Ideas for Cloud Computing Companies By Barbara McKinney

Branding Ideas for Cloud Computing Companies

We don’t need Coldplay to tell us about number and figures in the cloud computing industry. But Statista sure does have all the information we need to get us started on building a cloud-based service.

Cloud computing remains to be an important driver for growth in the IT industry and it makes perfect sense for this segment to grow exponentially. More and more companies are looking towards the cloud (particularly software-as-service) to streamline essential business processes. From CRM down to lead management, you can never really deny the value of cloud-based services to the broader aspects of managing a business.

These realizations will only propel growth even further. A Forbes article offers a positive outlook, saying that this segment of the IT market will be able to surpass initial projections. By the end of 2017, SaaS will have grown 36.6% and raked in a hefty $34.7 billion. In five years tops, it will manage to reach the $100-billion mark.

These numbers only indicate that there is greater adoption among businesses that need to cash in on the cloud to improve operational performance and revenue generation. These trends will only encourage executives to increase their IT budget in a bid to update their infrastructure and implement business process software across every aspect of the enterprise.

Seeing that there is a high demand for cloud-based services, IT companies will have to stay competitive and ensure that their software products, including SaaS, get the right customers that they deserve. At best, companies that are active in the cloud-computing arena will need to create bridges through their brands. And like building bridges, creating a brand that attracts the right customers involves looking implementing ideas that cater to this end.

With that said, brand-building is undoubtedly an important part of marketing and sales since you can never get customers without getting them acquainted with you.Fortunately, we are happy enough to share some neat ideas for putting your products and services front and center.

Want to get a large slice of the cloud market? Here’s how:

Authenticity is key

And it’s obvious that companies will need to create an identity that’s totally different from what their competitors put on. But often, being authentic is something that tantamounts to practicing a tap dance routine. It’s not exactly a good comparison, but hear us out when we say that crafting an attractive brand entails a lot of hard-work and requires the inputs of sales, marketing, and advertising. Granted, when it comes to being authentic, your team should be able to emphasize recognition as well as reputation.

Make connections

You can never truly create a brand that resonates with your audience if you fail in reaching out to their expectations and demands. When comes down to it, IT companies will have to do a great deal of identifying what their audiences want and build a brand strategy from the way they interact. This bottom-up approach to creating your marketing plan will surely provide you with the intelligence you need to draft a blueprint for your next digital campaigns.

Reviews and testimonials

Taking advantage of what your past and present clients have to say about your service is also helpful, at least in crafting your identity towards future clients. After all, people will need to know what it’s like working with you, and giving them something to read up on (a featured review or a testimonial posted on your site) will save them the trouble of making assumptions about your service.

Industry events

Product unveilings and IT expos can offer you a good avenue to grow your brand’s visibility. For that, you will need to get a head’s up on important industry events where there is an opportunity to grow your network and, more importantly, give your brand a much-needed boost in appeal.


Let your voice be heard. Whether it’s a take on a new IT product or an opinion about cryptocurrencies, expressing and sharing your thoughts on crucial industry-related issues can further increase your brand’s clout. What’s more, it also provides potential customers a glimpse as to how knowledgeable you are about everything that happens in this highly competitive arena.



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Everything You Need To Know About SaaS Recruiting Software By Shaun Ricci

SaaS (“software as a service”) recruiting software refers to on-demand software, whereby the database and features are hosted in the cloud.

saas recruiting software

It’s essentially the prevalent model of recruitment software delivery right now.

The benefits of SaaS recruiting software

  • Cost effectiveness: You save money because SaaS recruiting software doesn’t need IT infrastructure, maintenance, or staffing costs. All of that is handled by the provider and baked into your subscription cost, but said subscription cost is likely to be significantly less than the implementation and overhead costs of infrastructure and maintenance.
  • Hit the ground running:” You can import existing data fairly easily, and because you don’t need to install and implement the software yourself (the provider does it), you can be up and running in hours.
  • Anywhere/anytime: This is the great promise of the cloud. Are you on an airplane and need to access your recruitment database? If you can get Internet connection, you’re good. Are you in the middle of a lake in Idaho? Does the lake area have WiFi? You’re good. Nothing about your recruitment process is tied to a specific desk or location. You can get at it anywhere via SaaS recruiting software.
  • Mobile-friendly: Most SaaS is, or is becoming, mobile-friendly, because that’s largely the trend in ATS/CRM design now.
  • The upgrades are the provider’s responsibility: You don’t need to worry about that or need to throw another deliverable to your IT side.
  • Fiscal flexibility: Usually with SaaS recruiting software, you pay for a specific suite of services and number of recruiters. So basically, you pay for what you need, as opposed to paying for everything under the sun — which can happen in on-premise options.

What does SaaS mean for the future of recruiting?

There are a few trend lines to follow here:

  1. More remote, freelance, and contract recruitment opportunities will become available in different industries as recruiting will become more about networks, contacts, and relationship-building as opposed to being tethered to a specific desk or office.
  2. The more tedious aspects of recruitment – “the business of doing business” – will get automated out. This will typically be screening, sourcing, and shortlisting task work. In turn, your recruitment team is freed up to work on more value-add tasks.
  3. Searchable cloud-based recruitment databases make candidate rediscovery easier. This is hugely beneficial in high-growth or high-volume hiring situations. Maybe your company is growing 20% per year. (Awesome.) It’s possible in that situation that you hired 10 sales reps last year, but need to hire another 20. Well, when you hired the 10, you had other candidates who just missed the cut. Dive into your SaaS database, find them, contact them, and candidate rediscovery just made your growth needs much easier.
  4. Integrations with an ATS and other software will continue to get easier, which hopefully boosts candidate experience too because all the different products and services a recruiter needs will be “speaking” to each other more effectively.

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How To Calculate Mobile ROI In 5 Simple Steps By Tom Farrell

JESHOOTS / Pixabay

There’s no doubt about it, mobile is hot right now. I’m certainly not going to argue against a belief that mobile represents a transformational technology when it comes to the brand/consumer relationship. Even if I wanted to, every statistic out there and the reality of the lives we live every day would be against me.

But there’s just one issue when specific technologies become fashionable. Decisions get made without reference to the bottom line. If mobile is the height of fashion, is it really necessary to run the numbers before committing to re-modeling the business with an innovative mobile strategy at the center?

For many organizations, the answer is usually ‘no’. It may be an unfashionable opinion, but I’ve been around long enough to know that if sufficient numbers of people in the right places WANT to do something, chances are it’s going to happen no matter what the numbers say. In fact, chances are nobody’s going to ask for the numbers in the first place – the truth is that “ROI” is more usually used to kill projects than give them the green light.

And that isn’t necessarily a problem. But at some point, someone somewhere is going to ask the “Mobile ROI” question – and if you don’t have a good answer then you risk losing a lot of good work or at best losing the support of the business (and budget with it). What follows is an attempt to help you avoid that situation – a simple guide to calculating Mobile ROI that should ensure you get the credit for your good work, rather than shut down because you can’t demonstrate the value you’re delivering!

Calculating Mobile ROI – The 5 Simple Steps

It’s always a good idea to look at mobile ROI from the get-go. Aside from anything else, even if you know your mobile strategy is a sure-fire winner, being able to show the same in numbers will only help when it comes to budget and getting the rest of the business behind you. So here are my 5 short and simple steps to calculating Mobile ROI. This isn’t comprehensive, but it should get you thinking in the right way.

1. Be Clear About Your Goals

This might sound obvious, but as always you’d be surprised how many organizations fall at the first hurdle. Before beginning any mobile ROI calculation, be absolutely clear what success is going to look like on mobile. To give one example, there is a distinction between mobile apps optimized for engagement (media, games, entertainment) and those optimized for transactions (retail, travel, transport etc). Depending on which side of this line your business falls, you will have a completely different set of priorities, and a completely different set of metrics you wish to optimize for (and include in a mobile ROI calculation).

2. Understand The Link Between Metrics And Revenue

Having the right goals means you’ll have the right metrics, or at least it should do. The next step is to quantify exactly what a change in these metrics means to you in terms of revenue. That can be easy. If you only sell one product or service and get a set fee every time it is bought or used, happy days. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case and you’ll have to be methodical when it comes to getting to a mobile ROI calculation.

It’s useful to remember that ultimately the numbers that matter are revenue per user and total active users. You’ll need to break these down into the metrics that collectively roll up to them: retention, acquisition, engagement, average number and value of purchases or interactions, etc etc.

3. Consider All Factors

If it was as simple as figuring out how much money was being made from mobile and netting off costs, calculating mobile ROI would be relatively straightforward (although understanding it would be more complex – as above). But again, that isn’t always the case. Many apps exist to improve customer loyalty by delivering brand awareness on the phone or supporting the user during interactions with the business. Think airline apps helping users during journeys.

In that situation, you have some additional work to do, namely some form of analysis to establish whether there are any clear loyalty or brand awareness benefits that can be attributed to app users over non-app users. In this instance, you may need to look at more traditional research methods in order to arrive at a fair ‘value’ for app users that isn’t directly monetized in the app itself.

4. Be Honest About Costs

Any mobile ROI equation has two sides. On that basis, you’ll need to be fair and realistic when it comes to assigning costs to the project. Some costs are obvious (advertising spend on acquisition), some are reasonably obvious (fully loaded human resources cost of anyone involved in mobile) and some aren’t very obvious at all (revenue cannibalised from other channels). It’s easy to overlook costs or potential costs when calculating ROI, particularly when there’s an organizational desire for a project to succeed. That’s precisely why anyone responsible for a mobile ROI number should be as honest as possible with themselves.

5. Factor In Other Channels

We hinted at this above, but the point is worth expanding on. Mobile does not exist in isolation. But just as revenue can be taken from elsewhere, integrated campaigns across multiple channels can deliver a multiplier effect that you’ll need to account for. Take, for example, the rise of OTT and digital media streaming platforms, and specifically the direct relationship the content producer now has with the consumer. Yes, a lot of that relationship exists within the mobile app, but it also takes place on TV apps and desktop. Smart campaigns and investment will be across all these channels, and mobile brings more to the party than the raw numbers might suggest. Multi-channel businesses must be careful to tease out the value of these co-dependencies.

Conclusion: Making Mobile ROI Central

Hopefully, those five steps make some sense – even if they won’t necessarily get you all of the way there. What is most important, perhaps, is to consider mobile ROI from the very start of any mobile strategy (difficult at this stage, to be fair, as most organizations are already mobile-friendly or mobile-first).

By ‘owning’ ROI you’ll be in a position to spread the word about success and, if need be, be the first to identify issues and resolve them. Your mobile strategy deserves nothing less.

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Fingerprint Sensor on Smartphones Coming Soon By Jimmy Rodela

Fingerprint Sensor

Synaptics Incorporated has announced plans to come out with an optical in-display fingerprint sensor for smartphones.

And the venture will be done with a “top five OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)” which the San Jose-based company did not identify.

Synaptics isn’t the first company to develop fingerprint technology though.

Mashable reported back in June that Chinese company Vivo came out with the feature and introduced it at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai that month.

Synaptics said in a press release on its website that the Clear ID FS9500 family of optical in-display fingerprint sensors “is made for smartphones with infinity displays that activate only when needed.”

Faster Biometrics Tech

The company also said the fingerprint sensor is “faster than alternative biometrics such as 3D facial recognition technology.”

Facial identification (Face ID) technology is used on iPhone X, which Apple released last month.

Synaptics also said its fingerprint sensor is “highly-secure” with SentryPoint technology and convenient to use because the “one-touch/one-step biometric authentication” is in the touchscreen display area of smartphones.

Can Work With Wet or Cold Fingers

The company said further that the fingerprint sensor could work with “wet, dry and cold fingers, and since it’s protected by glass, is durable, scratch-proof and waterproof.”

Synaptics said the fingerprint technology lets users unlock the device while sitting, at any angle, or while in a car mount.

Kevin Barber, who is senior vice president and general manager of the Synaptics’ Mobile Division, pointed out that smartphone users “prefer fingerprint authentication on the front of the phone.”

He also said that with the smartphone industry shifting to bezel-free OLED infinity displays, the fingerprint sensor should naturally be in the display.

What’s Next?

U.S. hardware company Synaptics will mass producing fingerprint sensors for smartphones.

What can you say about this development? Share your comments below.

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Somnox – The World’s First Sleep Robot By Jimmy Rodela


Going to sleep can be a struggle for many people.

Those who trouble to sleep would try the “counting sheep” method or take sleep supplements to make them drift off to dreamland in a few minutes, if not right away.

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Health Index, 45 percent of Americans said that poor or inadequate sleep impacted their daily activities at least once a week.

We all know how the insufficient sleep can make us tired and grouchy.

World’s 1st Sleep Robot

A startup, however, has come up with a robot called Somnox that can help people fall asleep easily and is seeking funds on Kickstarter.

The robot is described as a “sleep companion to improve sleep by breathing regulation, sounds, and affection.”


Somnox’s goal is to help 100,000 people get a good night’s sleep by 2025.

The sleep robot had been featured in The Times and MailOnline where it received glowing reviews.

It could be your ideal sleeping companion: intelligent, caring, soft yet firm of a body – with an excellent repertoire of pillow talk,” a review on The Times said.

On MailOnline, a review said Somnox could be a “cure for insomnia” because the robot will slow down a person’s breathing to help him or her fall into deep sleep.

Somnox has non-invasive effective features like breathing regulation, soothing audio and affection to lull a user to sleep.

It has a speaker that can be made to play heartbeats, guided meditations, or soft music and a user can even upload his or her choice of audio.

The speaker’s volume goes down as the user drifts off to sleep and the audio ends when the user is already asleep.

The pillow rises and falls like a person’s chest, prompting the user to Somnox’s rhythm, “lulling your brain and body into the perfect sleep state.”

What’s Next?

The creators of Somnox hope to help thousands of people sleep easily with the help of the robot.

What are your thoughts on the product? Share them below.

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